When building your custom home, landscaping may be the last thing on your mind. Considering all of the decisions that go into the interior of your home, it’s fairly easy to push it aside for a later time. But before you shelf the world outside your windows, you may want to at least come up with a gameplan in time for planting season.
Every area of the country, of course, has its own unique climate, and North Texas is no exception. So when it comes to your landscaping, you don’t want to start planting any old tree or flower on a whim. Getting the right mix of plants – and ideally perennial plants native to Texas – that will survive and thrive in the heat and in the proper soil is a must. Not only does it ensure the health of the plants themselves, but it also helps to establish your own peace of mind. And trust us when we say that a self-sustaining landscape design is worth every second of planning. In the long run, it’s far less work and it allows your home to blend in with its natural surroundings.
Large-Scale Trees & Shrubs
Perhaps the most maintenance-free of plant choices, trees and shrubs offer both shade and a variety of visual height and silhouettes to bring your custom home to life. Our state tree – pecan – is an obvious starter choice since its wide-spreading branches offer shade and an added bonus of fresh pecans right in your own backyard. Additionally, oaks and maples are great shade trees to plant given their hardiness in high heat climates and their vibrant autumn colors. For ornamental trees that add an infusion of color and sweet-smelling blooms to your yard, you can’t go wrong with crape myrtle, yaupon holly, Texas mountain laurel, or magnolia.
Ideal shade shrubs include boxwoods, hydrangea, yews, and Rose Creek abelia – many of which produce a show of flowers each year. For full sun areas, stick to junipers for added height and nandinas and Purple Diamond loropetalum for a splash of pink and purple in your garden.
It’s always a good idea to add a bit of color into the mix, and given our sun-soaked land here in Texas, there are endless species available to use. Generally speaking, you want to layer your flowers in a way that balances things visually. Keep the higher-growing plants towards the back of your garden and the lower ones in front so each gets its chance to shine (and you don’t miss out on the array of gorgeous colors that will bloom).
Salvia adds a beautiful purple color into the mix, is incredibly hardy, and keeps pests away while inviting an array of butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden. For show-stopping blooms, you can opt for hibiscus (Lord Baltimore or Moy Grande) or rose (Belinda’s Dream or Knock Out); both are larger than life and a lush tropical aesthetic to your landscaping. And of course, for flowers with ultra-fragrant and colorful blooms, be sure to pepper in some gold star esperanza, Fourth of July roses, Mexican plum, or sweet white violet.
Groundcover plants, while not essential, are excellent landscaping options – especially if you’re looking to fill empty spaces or provide a layer of texture to your lawn. They also help to create a healthy environment for surrounding plants since they act as “rain gardens” of sorts, soaking up any excess hydration and preventing larger plants from being overwatered. They also serve to minimize weed growth and halt erosion and soil damage.
A few go-to groundcovers we love that provide a nice lush green color include straggler daisy, cedar sedge, silver ponyfoot, and horseherb. For groundcover plants that add a touch of color, consider incorporating primrose, phlox, or verbena.
Of course, choosing the right grasses for your custom home’s landscaping is a must as well. Grasses can, admittedly, struggle to survive in North Texas for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the soil is not well-maintained or does not drain properly (and this is especially the case for custom home lots that have seen massive soil compaction during the building process), so getting the right balance of nutrients is essential. Other times, people plant the wrong grasses for the level of sun or shade that their lawn receives each day. Different species of grasses will thrive in different environments, so you’ll want to choose the right one so you don’t have to replace it a short time down the road.
In general, grasses that thrive in full sun include Bermuda grass and buffalograss. Partial shade grasses to consider include St. Augustine and Zoysia. Shade grasses are a bit more difficult to grow, but there are several species that do well overall in these areas. These include Mondo grass, fescue, and bluegrass. You can also opt for more ornamental grasses to add some height and texture to your garden; zebragrass, purple fountaingrass, pampasgrass, and inland sea oats are excellent candidates.
Whether you are drawn to the larger silhouettes of trees and shrubs, prefer a burst of color in your garden, or enjoy the simplicity of a grass-filled lawn, getting the right landscaping for your custom home is an incredibly important step in the building process. Because as thrilling as it may be to see your home come to life within its four walls, without a strategically-placed mix of plants, it will feel stark, empty, and completely void of curb appeal. And while landscaping is certainly lower on the list of items to complete, it’s something you definitely don’t want to skip.