Ways to enjoy gardening more

As I observe my fellow Texans out in their landscapes and gardens, I see things I’d like to suggest. But that would be awkward, so I’ll just do it here.

Here are my little thoughts. I share them in the hopes they’ll help you enjoy gardening to the fullest.

• Find “plants for your home,” not “homes for your plants.”
That’s an old axiom a college prof taught us once related to choosing houseplants, but it fits just as well when we’re buying plants for our landscapes. We need to know what spaces we have available and then find the best plants that would fit into those spots. Too often we do just the opposite: we buy something because it looks great at the nursery, then we struggle to find a suitable spot for it once we get home.

These plants have been chosen because each is reliable in its own space. They blend together nicely.

• Buy plants that are adapted to your soils and your climate.
It doesn’t matter if a plant is native somewhere in Texas or not. If it’s unsuited to the conditions you can provide for it, it’s not going to thrive. In fact, it may not even live. That’s where a Texas Certified (or Texas Master Certified …) Nursery Professional can answer the question you always should ask: “Is every plant in my cart perfectly suited to my soils and our climate?”

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This section of the Sperry landscape had played out because the lawn was intolerant of almost full-day shade. Now, with shade plants on board it’s functioning perfectly.

• Don’t be afraid to “remodel” your landscape.
You wouldn’t think twice about replacing outdated, non-functional parts of your kitchen or bath. Do the same with your entryway or patio gardens. If the plants have outlived their usefulness, this is a great time to figure the replacements. While you’re at it, go for an entirely new look in your landscape.

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• Read product labels and follow them carefully.
A product’s official and legal label is affixed to it. It gives the information on amounts to use, timing and rates of application, precautions to protect people, pets, and plants, and all the other critical facts.

Texas has particularly lax laws on products sold for soil improvement. Pay especially close attention to their extravagant claims. If you come across things you can’t believe, just move on. Texas may allow these useless products to be sold, but we don’t have to buy them.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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