Have you ever said “ I just have a brown thumb?” Well, with careful planning, you can turn that brown to green, in more ways than one! You may have heard the term “Earthkind Landscaping”. If you follow the seven steps of the Earthkind plan, you will be pleased beyond measure with your gardening success.
#1. –Planning and design – Decide what kind of landscape you want. Does it need a children’s play area? Do you have animals? Do you want to attract butterflies and bees? After you have answered these questions, make a plan and try to stick to it as your landscape evolves. Be careful to avoid impulse buys!
#2. – Soil preparation – A soil analysis is often helpful as is adding 3-4 inches of organic material such as leaves, compost, and grass clippings.
#3 – Practical Turf areas – Do you really need all that turf? Can you add some flowerbeds? How about some outdoor rooms with seating areas? Cutting down on turf also cuts down on watering and work.
#4. – Appropriate plant selection – Group plants together that have the same light and water requirements. Use only native plants and those that are suitable to zone 9 for best results.
#5. – Efficient irrigation – Watch out for those sprinklers that are watering your driveway as well as your lawn and adjust as necessary. Install drip irrigation in flowerbeds and around trees and shrubs. It’s easy, inexpensive, and can be quickly adjusted.
#6 – Use of mulches. – Maintain 3-4 inches of mulch around everything you plant. Mulch holds down weeds, holds in moisture, and regulates soil temperatures.
#7 – Appropriate maintenance – Regularly check your irrigation systems, pull weeds when necessary, remove any pests.
For more details on how to build an Earthkind landscape that will reward you for many years, go to: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/ .
1. Lantanna–The plant flowers spring through fall and comes in white, purple,
yellow, orange, red, and pink. It rates a nine on the EarthKind scale due to to its high ratings on heat tolerance and low watering needs. It can also grow in any kind of soil that is not constantly wet. Depending on the cultivar it can grow as short as a foot tall or as high as 6 feet. Its leaves are prickly and have a pungent scent. The berries it produces are poisonous so plant them away from children.
2. Sunflower–Everyone knows the sunflower but there are many variations out
there being breed lately. The standard yellow sunflower can grow from 2 feet to 10 feet tall. They can have one blossom per plant to many smaller ones per branch. Over the last few years breeders have come interesting variations on the standard yellow but orange, red, rust and chocolate can now be found to mix up the colors. Most sunflowers bloom early summer and usually die out by mid summer.
3. Belinda’s Dream Rose–The first designated Earthkind rose, Belinda’s Dream has
beautiful full flowers, incredible disease restistance, and soil tolerance. This shrub rose flowers almost year around in southeast Texas but is very vibrant and fragrant during the summer months. The plants need to be spaced 7 feet apart to get good air circulation. This is a very versatile rose that can be used for both landscaping and for its cut flowers also.
4. Elephant Ear–This is a versatile plant that grows well in shade to full sun. Even
though it requires watering frequently, it rates high on heat tolerance and will grow in just about any soil. The plant itself can group 4-6 feet tall and its leaves can be moderate size to incredidbly huge. This plant will add a tropical flair to any landscape.
5. Mock Orange–This plant rates a ten (the highest rating) on the EarthKind scale
due to its high heat tolerance and low watering needs. It can also grow in any well-drained soil. It can grow six to eight feet tall and six to eight feet wide. It can grow in sun or partial shade and blooms in March. It can be used for landscaping, but suckers that grow from the roots must be trimmed to keep it from being too invasive.
To view more plants for Southeast Texas and other regions, go to: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/plantselector/ .