Landscape design ideas, stone fire pits, water features, backyard landscaping, Austin, TX

This is a quick blog on plants and becoming a better landscape designer. When I first started landscaping I knew of four plants that were my “go to” plants for everything.

Nandina, Bicolor Iris, Mexican Heather, Asian Jasmine.

I still use Bicolor Iris in many of my landscapes because they are so hardy and it is an evergreen grass whereas most other grasses except Lirope are perennial.

I very rarely use the other three and in fact I never use Asian Jasmine any more.

As a landscape designer it is important to grow in your plant knowledge because the more knowledgeable you are the more valuable you become to the market place.

With Austin growing by leaps and bounds most people don’t know what plants work well here and we have a pretty intolerant climate to a lot of plants that do great in other parts of the country.

For example I have tried to grow Camellia again and again and can’t seem to win with that plant even though I love it. So I substitute if with Rose of Sharon who has always performed great.

Legustrum is another plant that does well here but it is highly overused and I have severe allergies to the flowers on this plant. So I discovered Sweet Olive and Evergreen Sumac and Pineapple Guava. All of these do fantastic.

And instead of Red tipped Photenia I plant Variegated Pittosporum. This plant I absolutely love and use it in many landscapes because it is so versatile and hardy. Plus the green and white leaves goes with greens, blues, reds, pinks, purples.

Texas Sage seems to get kind of leggy over time so I now use Green Cloud Sage or Bush Germainder.  Both of these keep their fullness while Texas Sage peters out unless you prune it way back.

I saw Greggs Mist Flower at the nursery and the butterflies were always on their flowers so I decided to buy some and install them in a landscape. Little did I know how they spread and they completely took over an area which was not my intent. So now when I plant them I isolate them to a certain part of the yard that I can allow to grow a little wild and then I just let the butterflies come.

That is the kind of stuff that books don’t teach. Experience in the landscape industry is always a big plus.

Any way I just wanted to blog about growing as a designer. It is important to grow because there are several different themes that will work well in Austin, it is just about finding the right plants for the right places that bloom at the right time.

Also here is some food for thought. Every landscape project I do, I try to incorporate a plant or two that I have not used before to see what it does. If it performs under our conditions I add it to my pallet, if it fails I either try it in another area or discard it from what I install. Buy a Texas plant book and keep it handy while designing landscapes. That’s what I do.

For a greater understanding of plants and their habitat view my portfolio.