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Modern landscaping + native plants


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Hey everyone,

I am trying to get some ideas and make some plans (and have consulted the Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter's top ten lists), and I was hoping you could give some ideas on native plants that have worked well (or not!) for you in a modern landscaping design.

So maybe some neatly pruned/shaped (rounded) yaupon holly, controlled yucca, elderberry, and hibiscus if there's space, and maybe some grasses like little bluestem. What else?

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About to re-do our entire front of house next month... buying 75%+ off stuff now... October is best month to do a major planting job. Taken out about 75% of all "former" shrubs out of front beds... will finish this weekend... and build our new beds during the cooler temps.

Also, consult Randy Lemmon's book: Gulf Coast Gardening with Randy Lemmon. It's the local "bible".

I will be watching this thread for the same answers....

Are you talking about a wider open area like a backyard? Front beds?

We planted a couple of Dynamite Crape Myrtles along a 4 ft. 'sliver' of bedding along our driveway about 6 weeks ago... one trunk, like a tree... will bloom bright red. Also planted some kind of pepper shrubs.... really nice... looks dark navy... peppers are round.. start out purple, turn to green, then end up red... right now the reds are coming in bunches... think I'll eat one this weekend. The new "breeds" of crapes work nice... just don't buy the multi-branch "bushes".... there are dozens of diff types of Crapes.... must research them before you buy if you want to use them.

We also have some Hawthornes that work well... and a row of 5-6 Japanese Yews in the backyard - those are really nice and stay green all year... and don't go nuts. Over last year we've let them grow together (stopped trimming between them)... and it's pretty awesome looking.

Edited by spiderroller
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I find that a great place to get landscaping inspiration is at the zoo. They are obviously not after a modern aesthetic, but as far as I can see, they are using a lot of native, hardy plants, and have done some really beautiful stuff with them. You might see some plants, colors, etc. that you hadn't considered before. Even if you can't identify them by sight, you can snap photos and id them at home.

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Never thought of the zoo - good idea!

As it is, there are two built-in beds in the front and a narrow bed that runs along a side and part of the back of the house. I am open to doing anything, though.

I was hoping to find more dense shrubbery but the yaupon seems to be about it for now (though boxwoods seem to be okay if kept up).

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Podocarpus should be on your list. Can be maintained into a nice upright form, and works very well in narrow spaces. I also have a thing for Mexican Weeping Bamboo, ever since seeing it at Buchanan's a few years ago. Horsetail reed is another interesting form, but can be invasive, so plant in controlled areas.

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Try to stick to Texas indigenous flora… many of the books geared to Texas landscaping will identify plants that prosper in Texas but are not indigenous. I am only aware of three books – the names of which escape me at the moment – that are specific to Texas and its flora. One of which – the largest and most comprehensive – offers a fair amount of information but the accompanying imagery is fairly poor given that a close-up of a flower does not adequately convey the quality of the plant.

Nevertheless, it’s a start.

Here are several sites that offer info on Xeriscape landscape:





And as far as modern landscaping is concerned, Thomas Church's "Gardens are for People" -- especially the early editions -- is a terrific resource with respect to "look".

Edited by domus48
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  • 5 weeks later...

What's a nice native dog-safe ground cover? The mulched beds under our crape myrtles have become awful mud pits after these two weeks of rain, and the dogs, naturally, love to trample all over them then track mud in. I just need something to anchor the soil that won't poison or get devoured by canines.

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