Quick Tips From Neil

These may seem a little disconnected, but here are four tips to help you be more successful this gardening year.

1. Whether it’s formally drawn, or just sketched on a tablet, a landscape plan drawn to scale is a must. You wouldn’t build a house without a plan, and you shouldn’t build a landscape without one, either. Always show the plants at their mature sizes as you draw your plan.

2. Forget whether a plant is "native." Ask, instead, if it’s "adapted" to your part of Texas. You really don’t care if a plant is native to some distant corner of Texas. What you really need to know is whether it will survive in your landscape. Establish a good working relationship with a local independent retail nurseryman. Your last question before paying should always be, "Am I making any mistakes with the plants you see in my cart?"

3. Learn to "read" your plants. They’ll tell you when they’re starting to get dry, and they’ll show you when they need to be fertilized. Watch for the signs of pest problems, and make note of when they occur for future reference.

4. Plants should be watered whenever they’re dry, not on some arbitrary schedule. "Smart" controllers take the guess work out of watering, or you should at least leave the controller in the "Manual" mode so that you will determine when it runs. If you’ve not already done so, run an "irrigation audit" on your sprinkler system to be sure it’s working properly.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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