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Drought-Tolerant Plants for Texas YardsJuly 16th, 2018 by
As a native of the southeast US, when I think about extreme weather, I think about hurricanes that make their way up the eastern seaboard or snowstorms that dump more snow than I’ve ever seen in my life on the northern plains. Texas rarely comes to mind, but the truth is that the second-largest state in the US receives its fair share of storms, temperature extremes, and drought.
And in a state that is already known for high temperatures and desert-like conditions, drought is a weather phenomenon that makes landscaping and gardening in Texas a challenge at times. Drought, by definition, is a period of time during which precipitation levels drop below average for the area.
Plants that aren’t adapted to survive dry conditions often don’t live through periods of drought. No one wants to be the jerk who ignores water use restrictions during a drought, after all, and the already dry soil means that moisture-loving plants won’t get what they need from the ground.
So what is a Texan gardening enthusiast to do? Since none of us has the power to change weather patterns, the best thing you can do is work with Mother Nature rather than against her. When it comes to landscaping and gardening, this usually means turning to native plants and hardy varieties that don’t require much supplemental watering.
Ready to learn more? Keep reading!
Is Texas Really In a Drought?
The short answer is yes, but the severity of the drought varies quite a bit throughout the state. Check out the dynamic map from The National Drought Mitigation Center for a fascinating look at drought levels across Texas and the nation as a whole.
As of right now, the worst of the drought is in the states to the west of Texas, but the Texas panhandle is seeing extended periods of dry weather too. If you live in the central part of the state, you may not see evidence of the impact drought has on the environment, but limiting your water use is never a bad idea.
Water Conservation—It Matters!
Although a good, long rainstorm does wonders for the health of your yard, it’s rarely enough to bring an area out of a drought. Why? Well, drought is not just lack of rain—in fact, there are different types of drought, and they can hit simultaneously.
- Meteorological drought is what most people think of when their area doesn’t get rain for an extended period of time.
- Agricultural drought occurs when the lack of water has a negative impact on crop yields.
- Hydrological drought is typically a result of meteorological drought. When you notice that the water levels in the lakes, rivers, and streams in your area are much lower than usual, you’re witnessing hydrological drought.
- Socioeconomic drought occurs when the need for water—usually for irrigation or power generation—surpasses the available supply. Areas that rely heavily on irrigation for commercial agriculture or hydroelectric power are greatly impacted by this type of drought.
When moisture levels are depleted enough that bodies of water have been impacted and area farms are suffering, a day or two of rain just won’t cut it. The area impacted by drought needs several seasons of frequent rain to resolve the dry conditions.
The best course of action is to take steps to prevent drought in the first place. And while getting rid of your lawn and filling the space with drought-tolerant plants won’t immediately reverse drought conditions, you’ll certainly be doing your part.
If you have a hard time imagining a yard without sweeping expanses of lush, green grass, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are plenty of beautiful plants and native Texas grasses that tolerate dry conditions without much trouble—let’s take a look at some good options.
Texas is a big state, so I’ve grouped plant options by five climate regions: Texas Panhandle, north central Texas, central Texas, southeast Texas, and west Texas.
Drought-tolerant plants for the Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is well known for being hot, dry, and prone to spring tornados. It is a beautiful part of the state, however, especially if you can keep your yard healthy through the oppressive summer heat and humidity.
Give the following plants a try:
- Agave (most varieties)
- Bluestem grass
- English lavender
- Evening primrose
- Prickly poppy
- Wild indigo
Drought-tolerant plants for north central Texas
North central Texas sees more rain than the western part of the state; in fact, rivers and streambeds are prone to flooding during storms. Since the climate of this part of Texas is a little less extreme than other areas of the state, you’ll have broader options for plants that will thrive here.
Ask your landscaping company about these plants:
- American beautyberry
- Bellflower clematis
- Blue grama grass
- Butterfly milkweed
- Cardinal flower
- Evening primrose
- Indian paintbrush
- Lemon beebalm
- Texas bluebell
Drought-tolerant plans for central Texas
You’ll encounter many different landscapes on a tour of central Texas. Even though you likely won’t experience extreme drought conditions if you live in this area, it’s still a good idea to opt for plants that don’t require supplemental watering. Summers are hot and dry, so hardy plant varieties are your best bet.
Consider these attractive, easy-care options:
- Crepe myrtle
- Evergreen wisteria
- Jerusalem sage
- Moon flower
- Pineapple guava
- Rose of Sharon
- Spider wort
- Yellow Bells Esperanza
Drought-tolerant plants for southeast Texas
The Texas coast receives the most rain of any other spot in the state. Living in southeast Texas means that you experience your fair share of high heat and humidity through the spring and summer (and fall—let’s be honest).
Your landscaping must be hard enough to withstand stormy springs and hot summers. And while you may not need to plan for long stretches of dry weather, landscaping with low-water plants ensures that you don’t use valuable water resources when the rest of the state is in a drought.
Check out these plants:
- Blackfoot daisy
- Chocolate daisy
- Coastal indigo
- Desert willow
- Eastern gamagrass
- Evergreen sumac
- Maximilian sunflower
- Purple heart
- Red yucca
- Rock rose
- Texas skeleton plant
- Wooly butterfly bush
Drought-tolerant plants for west Texas
West Texas is primarily arid desert and clear skies. While the mountain ranges in the area accumulate snow through the winter, areas of lower elevation in this part of the state don’t receive much rain. If you live in west Texas, hardy, drought-tolerant plants are important to your landscape.
Here are a few low-water plants to look for at your local garden store:
- American century plant
- Apache plume
- Claret cup
- Green milkweed vine
- Green sprangletop grass
- Rock beardtongue
- Siler’s tuberose
- Silver beardgrass
- Skeleton-leaf goldeneye
- Texas persimmon
- Western wild petunia
- White mistflower
Trees are just as sensitive as smaller plants and flowers to a lack of moisture in the soil and air, but a weakened or dying tree can cause far more damage to your home than a bed of wilted perennials. Since drought conditions are not unusual in Texas, your best bet is to choose trees that are native or specially designed to tolerate dry conditions.
Here’s a list of low-water trees to help you get started:
- Arizona cypress
- Black cherry
- Cedar elm
- Prairie flameleaf sumac
- Southern red oak
- Texas ash
- Texas live oak
- Texas oak
Planting a tree may sound simple enough, especially if you’re planning to start with small saplings, but there’s much work involved beyond shoveling dirt.
Find a tree services company near you and schedule a consultation with an arborist to give your new trees the best chance at a long, healthy life. The pros will know how to spot the best location for each tree as well as proper planting techniques.
Trees are an investment in the environment and in the value of your home, so make sure the work is done right.
The Bottom Line
Landscaping in Texas isn’t always easy. Between the high temperatures, the variations in soil type and quality throughout the state, and the frequency of extreme weather and drought conditions, finding plants that will grow and thrive without much work can be a challenge.
The good news is that regardless of where in the state you live, there are plenty of easy-care plants for you to choose from—and many of them don’t require supplemental watering. Mix in some native species to do your part for the local ecosystem.
Designing a new landscape plan (and implementing that plan) is a big job, so don’t hesitate to bring in the professionals. Best Pick landscapers are fully vetted for quality work and proper insurance and licensing, so you’ll be getting best of the best—we guarantee it.
Call a Best Pick landscaping company in your area today to get started on a plan for drought-tolerant landscaping that will accent your home.