Plants To Grow In Your Garden or Yard That Will Help The Environment

While gardening and landscaping can serve as a therapeutic hobby for some, it can also be a great way to ensure you are doing your part to help the natural environment. Read below to learn more about the types of plants and trees you can install in your yard or garden to contribute to the health of our planet. 

Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

Making the decision to grow your own fruits and vegetables in your garden can have many benefits. One benefit is that you will save money and time by making less trips to the grocery and paying a much lower price for the fruit and vegetables seeds you purchase in store or online. Another advantage of growing your own produce is that it is much healthier for the environment. The fruits and vegetables found at the grocery store are not always sourced locally and may have travelled a far distance to make it to your supermarket. This transportation utilizes a large amount of energy and has a high carbon dioxide footprint which harms the environment by contributing to air pollution. When you grow your own produce, the only journey your food will make is from your garden right to your kitchen table! Not only is growing your own fruits and vegetables cost effective and better for the environment, but it can also be a lot of fun and offer a level of personal accomplishment and satisfaction. You can even invite your children to help you plant your fruits and vegetables as a fun and educational way to spend a day outdoors together.

Install Artificial Grass

It may sound counterintuitive that artificial grass could be good for the environment, but it is in fact an eco friendly alternative to planting real grass in your front and back yards. Unlike real grass, synthetic grass does not need to be mowed. Lawn mowers and weed eaters are usually powered by gasoline meaning that they release harmful chemicals and carbon dioxide into the air when used. If you install artificial grass, you will not need to use a lawn mower or weed eater, thus reducing your carbon footprint. Additionally, artificial grass does not require the use of fertilizers, pesticides, weedkiller or any other chemicals that could potentially put the health of your family, pets and the environment at risk. Lastly, synthetic grass does not need to be watered. When you water your yard with a regular sprinkler from a standard 5/8 inch garden hose for one hour, you will use approximately 1,020 gallons of water. Running the same sprinkler three times per week uses 12,240 gallons of water per month. Using artificial grass and skipping the water is a great way to conserve water and also cut down on the cost of your water bill. 

Use Native Plants, Shrubs and Trees

By planting shrubs and trees in your at home garden, you are not only enhancing the look of your yard, but you are also helping the outside environment. These plants and shrubs love carbon dioxide and through a process called oxygenic photosynthesis, they can help to reduce the amount of pollution in the air by absorbing and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. This oxygen is then returned to the atmosphere and is used to sustain human and animal life amongst serving many other purposes on earth. In addition to producing oxygen, the plants, trees and shrubs in your garden provide sources of food and even shelter to local wildlife, including insects, birds and other animals. Using plants that are native to your area is another way to ensure that your garden is helping the environment. Read below to learn more about native plants and trees and which plants are native to Texas and the Houston area.

What Are Native Plants?

Native plants are plants that are well acclimated to a given region. Because they are well adapted to the particular weather conditions in their area, these plants are able to withstand the usual weather extremes that are present in that area. Whether extreme heat, like we often experience in Houston, or extreme cold, these native plants will fare well in these given climates. Due to this, native plants will not require a lot of maintenance. This means that native plants will need less water, fertilizers or biocides to thrive and will even require less raking of their fallen leaves. As the leaves of native plants decompose on the ground, they will offer nutrients to the soil and will also naturally suppress weed growth. Because these plants have become compatible with the area around them, they will also do well when planted with other native plants. You can count on native plants to thrive next to one another as well was benefit each other’s growth, allowing bio-diversity.

Tress, Shrubs and Plants Native To Texas

1. Native Shade Trees

If you are looking to plant more trees in your yard, consider using trees that are native to Texas. As Texas experiences such hot summers, planting native shade trees is a great way to protect your property from the sun’s hot rays.

Live Oak Trees

Live Oak trees will thrive in any region of Texas and should be planted in the early Fall months. Be sure not to plant your Live Oak tree within fifteen feet of your sidewalk, as their large root systems will grow under and lift up any pavement. These trees need full sun and grow rather slowly, usually reaching thirty to fifty feet in height with a fifty foot spread.

Cedar Elm Trees

Cedar Elm trees are another great option if you are looking for more shade in your yard. Like the Live Oak tree, these trees should also be planted in the fall months and need full sun to thrive. Cedar Elm trees grow at a moderate pace and will generally only grow to be twenty-twenty-five feet in height and will have a twenty-five to thirty-five foot spread.

2. Native Ornamental Trees

Native ornamental trees provide all of the benefits of having native plants in your yard, but can also enhance to visual appeal of your garden and home with their brightly colored petals and blooms. Read below to learn more about just a few ornamental trees that are native to Texas.

Texas Mountain Laurel Tree

The Texas Mountain Laurel Tree may be planted in any area of Texas, but generally will most successfully thrive in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. This particular native tree is one of very few ornamental trees that blooms and is also evergreen, meaning it will stay green and bloom all year long. The Texas Mountain Laurel Tree produces beautiful and fragrant purple blooms during the beginning of March. These blooms will only last about three weeks. If you want your Texas Mountain Laurel Tree to flourish, plant it in early fall in an area with sun or part shade. These trees will grow very slowly and reach a height of ten to twenty feet with an eight to twelve foot spread. 

Desert Willow Tree

Although the Desert Willow Tree grows best in central Texas, you can still plant this tree in your Houston yard. This native tree grows very fast and will flower throughout the spring and summer. The Desert Willow Tree can grow from fifteen to twenty-fine feet tall and might have up to a fifteen to twenty-five foot spread. Plant this tree in the early fall months in an area that receives plenty of sunlight.

Mexican Redbud Tree

If you are looking to incorporate plenty of color into your garden and yard, consider planting a Mexican Redbud Tree. These beautiful trees provide stunning pink and magenta blooms in the spring time that will liven up your property. However, these blooms will only last a short three to four weeks. The height of the Mexican Redbud Tree is between twelve and fifteen feet with a twelve to fifteen foot spread. Plant this vibrant tree in a location which receives sun and part shade in the early fall months.

3. Native Shrubs

Shrubs can provide your yard and garden with structure and eye-catching color. When you use native shrubs on your property, you are not only amplifying the beauty of the space, but you are also contributing to the health of the environment as you do not have to use harmful pesticides and chemicals on these plants to keep them alive. Read below to learn about a few native shrubs that will flourish in the Houston area. 

Agarita 

Agarita is a shrub that can be planted in areas from east of Austin to Houston. This shrub produces blooms with yellow flowers as well as red berries and has tough, prickly leaves. Because the leaves on the Agarita are pointed, refrain from planting this shrub where there will be heavy pedestrian traffic around your home, yard or garden. Agarita will grow three to six feet in height and have a three to six foot spread. Install this shrub in early spring or fall in a location that receives sun to partial shade.

Flame Acanthus

If you are drawn to colors of red and orange, consider planting Flame Acanthus. As its name suggests, this shrub produces red-orange flowers during the fall and summer months. One additional benefit of planting this shrub in your yard or garden is that it will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Install this shrub in your yard during the early spring or fall months in sun to partial shade. Flame Acanthus will reach three to four feet high and have a three to four foot spread.

Texas Sage

To add a touch of purple to your yard, plant some Texas Sage. This shrub produces enormous amounts of purple flowers several times throughout the growing season. This shrub will do best in Central Texas or the Valley, but it can be planted here in Houston as well. If you are interested in planting Texas Sage on your property, make sure to plant this shrub in early spring or fall in a location that receives full sun. Texas Sage will reach a height of four to five feet and has a four to five foot spread.

4. Native Perennials

Plants that last up to two years are referred to as perennials. If you would like a more long term plant option for your garden or yard, perennial plants are the perfect solution for you. Read below to learn more about a native perennial that will do well in your Houston yard or garden.

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans are a flowering perennial plant that are great for landscapes from Central Texas to Houston. The blooms of this plant are large and yellow, adding a beautiful pop of vibrant color to your landscape during the summer months. Install the Black-Eyed Susan in your landscape in the early spring or fall months and make sure to cut this plant back during the winter. This perennial will generally grow one to two feet high and have a one to two foot spread.

Plant Bee Friendly Herbs and Plants

A healthy population of bees is crucial to our ecosystem, as these fuzzy flying insects help to pollinate plants which assists in plant reproduction and growth. Many of the plants that are pollinated by bees will become the vegetables, fruits and nuts which we eat, including apples, almonds, melons, vanilla, squashes, cranberries, asparagus and broccoli. Bees will also pollinate cotton and the plants that livestock eat, giving them a very important roll in the lives of humans and animals alike. Additionally, bees assist in the growth of wild plants, produce honey for human and animal consumption and contribute to the bio-diversity of our ecosystems which is critical for the survival of a diverse number of species. You can help to provide food and shelter for these vital insects by installing bee-friendly herbs and plants in your garden which include lavender, allium, cotoneaster, foxglove, holly hock, lupin, lambs ears, geraniums, oregano and wisteria.

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