Would you rather be eating Tex Mex and exploring the Dallas World Aquarium or spending hours sweating in the hot sun laboring over your lawn? You shouldn’t have to miss out on a fun weekend with your family because you’re too busy doing chores. Follow these simple tips and you can reduce the amount of time and effort required to take care of your landscape.
- Go natural with Texas native plants
- Landscape with perennials
- Add some diversity with hardscaping and edging
- Choose low-maintenance grass types
- Be water-wise with xeriscaping
Need a hand with your lawn? You can always call on a Dallas Lawn Love pro to do it for you.
1. Go natural with Texas native plants
Reduce the amount of time and effort you put into your lawn by planting native plants. Native plants tend to be more drought tolerant, pest- and disease-resistant, and generally require less maintenance than nonnative plants because they are accustomed to the area’s climate and soil conditions.
There are many advantages of Texas native plants:
- Don’t require pesticides or fertilizers
- Very low-maintenance
- Support your local ecosystem
- Supply food and shelter to native wildlife
- Provide natural beauty and character to your landscape
Here are three popular native plants for the Dallas region to get you started:
- Texas Lantana (Lantana Urticoides)
- This native shrub hosts clusters of bright red, orange, and yellow buds that bloom in the summer and fall. Its leaves are poisonous to humans and animals, but the nectar and fruit will bring beautiful butterflies and birds to your backyard.
- Texas Purple Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
- This Texas wildflower attracts plenty of butterflies to your yard. Its pinkish-lavender flowers bloom throughout the year. Texas purple sage is designated as the official state native shrub.
- Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- This wildflower thrives in North Texas and will bring hummingbirds and butterflies to your back door. Its pinkish-purple flowers bloom from April through September. The flower also has medicinal properties and is a mild natural antibiotic.
If you’re looking for more native plant options, check out the Native Plant Society of Texas or this list of native trees, flowers, and shrubs for the Dallas-Plano-Irving area.
Estimated cost: If you do it yourself, you’ll only be paying the cost for the plant. The cost of professional landscaping falls between $3.50-$15.50 per square foot. Native plants are cost-effective, low-maintenance landscaping options, so you’ll end up saving money in the long run.
2. Landscape with perennials
There are plenty of nonnative, drought-tolerant perennials that thrive in Texas landscapes. Planting large shrubs and trees will help you in the long run because once they’re established, they don’t require as much maintenance as smaller perennial plants. Overall, perennials will save you time and money that would otherwise be spent on replanting every year.
Below you’ll find a list of three popular low-maintenance plants in the North Texas region:
- Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica)
- Even though it’s a tree, crape (or crepe) myrtle is the state shrub of Texas and is known as “the lilac of the South.” It is durable, adaptable, and beautiful, with striking flowers blooming in shades from white to red and purple.
- Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina Domestica)
- Also called nandina, heavenly bamboo is an ornamental shrub native to tropical regions in Asia. This shrub produces striking red berries and white flowers that bloom in late spring.
- Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)
- Black-eyed Susans are some of the most popular low-maintenance wildflowers available. Their golden yellow flowers will bring birds and butterflies to your backyard.
When looking for more low-maintenance plants, keep an eye out for ones that require less water, are disease- and pest-resistant, and thrive in Dallas’ U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 8a. Choose perennials instead of annuals, and you’ll be saving yourself money buying flowers every year and time replanting year after year.
Estimated cost: Planting these yourself will save you money, as you’ll only be paying for the plants themselves. The cost of landscaping falls between $3.50-$15.50 per square foot. Overall, you’ll be saving money on your water bill with these drought-tolerant plants.
3. Add some diversity with hardscaping and edging
Hardscaping is a great option to make your yard look great while reducing the amount of lawn to maintain. Hardscaping is any non-living element installed in your yard, such as outdoor kitchens, firepits, and walkways. Hardscaping will improve the functionality of your backyard, help increase your home’s value and curb appeal, and create an outdoor living space for you and your family to enjoy.
Here are some common examples of hardscapes:
- Fire pits
- Outdoor kitchens
- Water features
Edging is a form of hardscaping that helps your yard look more organized. Installing edging around your garden helps keep mulch in place, prevents plants in your garden from invading the rest of your lawn, and keeps your lawn from invading your garden. It’s an elegant barrier that also adds a touch of personality to your backyard and will increase your home’s curb appeal.
Advantages of hardscapes and edging:
- Decrease lawn mowing and maintenance needs
- Add to your home’s value and curb appeal
- Make your outdoor space more functional
- Make your yard more dimensional and attractive
- Protect your garden and keeps it in place
Estimated cost: The cost of hardscaping can vary greatly depending on what project you have in mind and the material you use. The average cost to build and install a fire pit is $700, while the average cost to install a patio is $3,595.
4. Choose low-maintenance grass types
Grass is one of the most water-intensive, high-maintenance features in your landscape. Well, it does cover a lot of ground! You need to mow it, water it, fertilize it, and take care of it year-round to keep it alive and looking good. Thankfully, you have several options to help cut down on maintenance.
- Ground cover: Planting ground cover is a great alternative to turfgrass. Ground covers are plants that grow to low heights and spread across the ground horizontally. They tend to be more low-maintenance and inexpensive compared to turfgrass. Some good ground covers for the Dallas area include miniature brass buttons (Leptinella gruveri), woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus), and roman chamomile (Chamomile nobilis).
- Low-maintenance grasses: The best low-maintenance grass types in the Dallas region are zoysiagrass, Texas bluegrass, and centipedegrass.
- Zoysiagrass: This is a dense, warm-season grass that requires little watering, but may require more frequent fertilization than other grass types.
- Texas bluegrass: This is a cool-season prairie grass that can withstand Texas heat and attracts birds and butterflies.
- Centipedegrass: This is the best option for a low-maintenance turfgrass, requiring little watering, infrequent mowing, little fertilizing, and can thrive in sunny and moderately shady environments.
- No grass: What could be more low-maintenance than not having any grass at all? This is becoming a more popular option among busy homeowners. Instead of grass, you could fill your lawn with native plants, mulch, rocks, or a hardscape. This may be a more expensive option initially since you will need to hire a professional to remove your current grass and install your new design, but it will save you time and money in the long run.
Estimated cost: The cost of landscaping falls between $3.50-$15.50 per square foot. Native ground covers are inexpensive, so all you will need to pay for is the plant itself. If you’re going with the grassless option, you can rent a sod cutter for around $67 for four hours, not including a $150 deposit. You also can hire a professional to remove your grass for around $1.50 per square foot.
5. Be water-wise with xeriscaping
With Texas’ rapid growth, a growing problem is an increasing demand for the state’s water supply. Unfortunately, your lawn may be contributing to this issue — about one-quarter of water usage in the state is attributed to watering lawns and gardens in urban areas. One solution to this problem is xeriscaping.
Xeriscaping, which is pronounced “zeriscaping” is a form of landscaping that is focused on water conservation.
In addition to planting drought-resistant grass and native plants (which we covered above), xeriscaping also includes:
- Landscape design
There is a lot to keep in mind when planning to reduce your landscape’s water usage. You should consider your budget, how your backyard is used, how you’d like it to look, and how much effort you’re willing to put into it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to landscaping professionals to discuss ideas.
- Soil analysis
Soil testing helps you identify which elements are lacking in your soil and allows you to pick the best fertilizer. By making sure your soil has the proper nutrients, you will be ensuring the health of your plants, preventing diseases and other costly issues. It also helps you choose the best plants to survive in your soil.
There are two main options when it comes to soil testing: a DIY soil test kit for home use, or you can send a sample of your soil to a soil testing lab. Soil test kits are inexpensive and easy to use, but they do not provide much information besides the pH level of your soil and any nutritional deficiencies it may have. To get a full soil analysis, you should send a sample to a soil testing lab. Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office to learn more about affordable soil testing options.
- Smart irrigation
Make sure your irrigation system is not wasting water. The most efficient way to irrigate your lawn is to make sure grassy areas are being watered separately from your other plants. Grass tends to require more watering than other plants, so you will be saving water and your plants from being overwatered.
Also, make sure your sprinklers are not spraying water on hard surfaces, like your driveway or the roadway, instead of on your lawn. Automatic irrigation systems are a convenient way to evenly distribute water across your lawn at the best time of day, generally between 2-8 a.m.
To conserve water, use mulch wherever you can. Mulch helps to conserve moisture, reduce weeds, and prevents plant roots from experiencing intense heat and drought. It’s best to use mulch that is made out of organic materials, such as compost, tree bark, and wood chips, because they will add nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
Inorganic mulches such as rocks, gravel, and rubber are a more low-maintenance option because once you spread inorganic mulch, you don’t have to worry about replacing it. While they don’t provide nutritional benefits, they have all the other benefits of adding organic mulch to your flower beds.
Advantages of using mulch:
- Conserves soil conditions (temperature and moisture)
- Prevents weeds
- Adds nutrients to the soil
- Keeps soil from eroding
Other ways to conserve water include:
- Mowing at the proper height
- St. Augustine and buffalograss should be kept around 3 inches
- Zoysiagrass should be cut to 2 inches
- Bermudagrass should be mowed to 1 inch
- Closely follow your fertilizer’s directions
- Fertilize once in the spring and once in the fall
- Pay attention to your irrigation systems, and repair leaks as soon as possible
If you follow these xeriscaping guidelines, you will feel good about saving time, money and the environment.
Estimated cost: If you have a large backyard to xeriscape, it’s a good idea to hire a professional landscape designer or architect to help. The average cost to hire a professional for xeriscape design is $3,298. For design implementation, the cost will range from $3.50-$15.50 per square foot.
Don’t know where to start? Get some help for your Dallas yard.
Implementing a low-maintenance landscape is a great way for Dallas homeowners to reduce the time, money, and energy spent taking care of their landscape. Low-maintenance landscaping is great for the environment, native wildlife, and you.
Don’t waste the weekend worrying about your lawn. Contact one of our Dallas lawn care professionals to help implement and maintain your low-maintenance landscape year-round.
Main Photo Credit: time anchor | Flickr | CC BY 2.0