Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Texas Hill Country Natural Garden

That corner in your backyard ~ you know, the one you keep meaning to clean out and landscape. A good suggestion may be to have a natural garden.

If you already have plants that are native to the area, they can provide food, water and shelter for butterflies, bees and birds. Plants and flowers can provide nectar, seeds and berries. Texas Hill Country native plants attract wildlife to your yard easier than exotic plants may.

The following trees and plants will encourage birds as they produce seeds and grasses:

  • Little Bluestem
  • Pigeonberry
  • American Beautyberry
  • Texas Barberry

To invite lovely butterflies, their favorite flowers include:
  • Salvia
  • Sages
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Cross Vine
  • Verbenas
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnias

It will be necessary to appeal to pollinators including moths, bees and black-chinned hummingbirds. They are all attracted to:

  • Kidneybush
  • Cherry Laurel
  • Mexican Buckeye
  • Yucca
  • Flame Acanthus

Interesting birds, butterflies, moths, etc will need adequate shelter. Butterflies need protection from winds. They, along with insects and lizards will make their homes in stacked, dry stone. High trees and thick cedar brush provide shelter for cardinals, blue jays and mockingbirds. Wax myrtle and holly produce berries for food. A brush pile or even a log or dead tree is idea for small birds such as wrens. Owls and woodpeckers will find a tree with cavities appealing.

As we are limited on water during the hot summer months, a permanent pond or fountain is ideal, but not necessary. Simply installing a bird bath with a dripper will quickly attract birds. If you enjoy hummingbirds, they love a mister. This is a fun addition to any yard.

Broken flower pots work well for toad houses. Place them near the bird bath with a dripper to encourage guests. Adding birdhouses or nesting ledges, protected from the elements entice young families to live in your garden. 

Prepare to be entertained in your little bit of paradise as you begin seeing God's creatures mingling in your garden.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the first impression friends, family and passersby have of our homes. For most of us, the front of our home is what greets us each time we arrive, whether at the end of a long day at work, or a fun day out playing! With regular maintenance, it is not overwhelming to keep our yards and gardens in tip top shape and make us look forward to coming home to our private sanctuary each day.

To make our homes inviting, warm and welcoming, there are a few relatively inexpensive updates that will make a world of difference:
  • Keeping the grass cut and walkways, trees and bushes trimmed is the first step in looking clutter free
  • Replacing mulch will add instant neatness and some color
  • Touching up paint on shutters, eaves, doors and fences will make your house look instantly new again
  • Clean or replace light fixtures. If they are outdated, painting them black is an inexpensive fix
  • Replacing light bulbs will provide beauty, but more importantly safety at night
  • Painting and cleaning up around the mailbox will make a statement
  • A splash of color with some bright flowers can be added easily enough, even a couple of pretty pots on the front porch
  • Pressure washing the walk and drive at the beginning of summer, then sweeping periodically keeps everything else looking tidy
  • Wipe, sweep or wash front porch and door to remove any spiders or other unwanted guests
  • Investing in a new front door mat will just make you feel happy
  • Opening blinds and windows brightens a house from the outside as well as the inside
The back yard and entertainment area is important as well since it is summer and we are spending more time outdoors grilling, entertaining or are lucky enough to have a swimming pool:
  • Find a focal point, whether a fire pit, grill or outdoor kitchen. Arrange outdoor seating in an inviting, conversational area. 
  • Clean, paint or repair any fencing
  • Without being cluttered, arrange yard decorations or decorative pots sparingly for a personal touch
A nicely manicured yard and fresh, bright paint with pops of color from a few beautiful flowers are the first steps toward looking forward to coming home each day.  Mike Burroughs and his team in Hill Country, Texas would love to assist with low maintenance hardscape and a few deer resistant plants. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spruce up with Hardscaping

Hardscaping is a very popular preference when landscaping, especially with lack of water combined with the heat during the summer months here in Hill Country, Texas. Hardscaping involves outdoor areas that are not plants, flowers and grass. Hard landscaping includes driveways, walkways, patios, decks, retaining walls, fountains, pools, fencing, etc.

A variety of long lasting, low maintenance materials are used. These may include concrete, rock, stone, brick, gravel, glass, timber, pavers, natural stones, etc. Outdoor furniture, flower pots and the like are also considered 'Hard Landscape'.

Beginning with curb appeal, the drive is the first impression visitors have, not to mention our own "welcome home". The front drive should be pleasing and attractive as well as durable. A unique option is natural stone for drives and walkways alike as this choice will last a lifetime with little maintenance. There are different natural stones to choose from, in all sizes, shapes, textures and colors.

Limestone is ideal for patios. It comes in a variety of colors and has a laid back look. Travertine is related to limestone. Its porous characteristic makes an excellent choice for walkways. As with limestone, there are many color choices. Slate is a good option for pool decks as it is water resistant and is available in rustic shades. Natural stone can withstand temperature changes, impact and most importantly, the test of time. Artificial stones are available, and may be less expensive, but will not compare in endurance and beauty of natural stone.

Pavers are also a great option for walkways, as they allow creative curves to create eye appealing patterns. Pavers are an excellent choice for hot, dry Texas weather as they are durable and require little maintenance. In the event one is damaged, each piece can be easily replaced.

Adding focal points such as fire pits, fireplaces or water features, such as fountains can convert a patio to a true outdoor living space. Creative hardscapes are not only beautiful to look at, but enjoyable to sue as well. They are also more economical in the long run, being virtually maintenance free after installation. When considering southern landscape, hardscaping is a beautiful, low maintenance addition to any outside area.