North Texas can frustrate gardeners with its boiling summer sun, frequent droughts, almost sterile soil and the occasional bout of freezing weather. The chance of successfully dealing with these challenges can be improved by following a few helpful websites:
- We recommend having your soil tested before establishing a garden or applying amendments. Texas A&M University’s Soil Testing Laboratory offers affordable, reliable analysis. The lab website is: http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/Here is the link to the soil testing form, which includes instructions for collecting samples: http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/files/urbansoil.pdf
- Plant identification resources, especially with regard to wildlife and avoiding invasive plants
- For insect information, “Insects in the City” is a resource provided by Texas A&M University entomologists. For insect ID help.
- The Facebook page “Antman’s Hill” is operated by a former Texas A&M entomologist and other volunteers. It is a science-based, friendly community of experts and novices alike. They might be especially helpful with regard to the concern about wasps. (Unless you have an allergy, I have found living with wasps in Texas is easy. Accurately identifying them and knowing their behavior will be especially helpful. I’ve only removed one paper wasp nest in 20 years of living in Texas, if that is any comfort.)
- Piggybacking on the water conservation concern, we recommend the website Water my Yard. Another A&M free resource, it gives valuable, real-time recommendations for irrigation in your zip code area. North Texas soil is largely clay loam, so watering can be tricky. Read about “cycle and soak” to understand the challenge of irrigating clay soil.
- We may have plant diseases in North Texas unfamiliar to you. The Texas A&M Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has a website and Facebook page for your use. Website: https://plantclinic.tamu.edu/The Facebook page is titled “Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab.”
- Some consider trees to be the most valuable landscape element. To care for your trees, we recommend only using a certified arborist. We also recommend getting an opinion and estimate from more than one provider, if possible. This website will help you find a local, certified arborist, should you need one: https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/findanarborist
Preparing a new gardening area
Learn how to improve native North Texas soil to better nurture plants: Gardening from the ground up
Selecting plants to match your growing conditions
These plants can take the heat, the occasional drought and cold temperatures: Texas tough plants
Plants to avoid: Invasive plants
“Starting a Community Garden” by Dr. Dotty Woodson and Dr. Fouad Jaber.