Bluebonnets have begun to make their appearance across Texas' landscape while many are still eyeing the destruction brought on their plants from the recent winter weather.
After the winter storm that set numerous records for its low temperatures, snowfall and ice, Texans have found themselves faced with decisions on how to repair or adjust cared-for yards that didn't survive.
Damaged leaves don't mean a plant has died. So be sure before any pruning or pulling begins that the plant is a lost cause before making any decisions.
Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers advice on gauging a plant's condition here. And in this Houston Chronicle article, Texas A&M Agriculture Extension agent Larry Stein says, "learn to like ugly. Basically, leave it ugly for a while … to give the plants time to recuperate and actually see the full extent of the damage."
As you wait, or don't, consider a different approach to what's planted across your landscape.
Texas' continuing booming population increases the demand on the state's already limited water supply. Combine that with the state's periodic droughts and climate change, the need for water conservation is more important than ever.
So, if you're eyeing a life for the yard, consider a plan that will have a lasting impact. Water conservation will become an increasingly critical element in meeting the Brazos River Basin's water supply needs.
The Texas Agricultural Extension Service encourages xeriscaping to incorporate a broad water conservation effort for a yard versus traditional landscapes that may incorporate a small amount of water-saving techniques.
Xeriscape landscaping isn't just cactus and rock gardens. These areas can be green, cool landscapes, full of beautiful plants maintained with water-efficient practices, according to the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Plus, xeriscape yards have the bonus of requiring less maintenance.
"Xeriscape landscaping, quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment, is the most exciting concept to hit the landscape industry in decades," according to the extension office. "Whether called Xeriscape, water-wise or water-smart landscaping, landscape and water industry professionals throughout the nation have embraced landscape water conservation through education."
If xeriscaping isn't of interest, choosing plants native to Texas has a variety of benefits. For instance, native plants help sustain native North American bird and insect species, according to the University of North Texas. Another big bonus is their ability to weather the weather.
Dallas-based Yepez Lawn Maintenance Services' favorite spring flowers native to Texas and therefore more likely to endure the state's climate include:
• Salvia Farinacea: Salvia farinacea can be in bloom all season as long as the spikes are cut back once the flowers are spent.
• Hibiscus: Hibiscus tend to live up to 5 years and, with proper care, should reemerge late spring stronger and more vibrant than before.
• Cape Plumbago: Also known as the sky flower, or Blue Imperial, for its sky blue blossoms, they attract all types of butterflies, repel deer, and can be left to grow sprawling on the ground or arranged to fall over a wall.
• Cosmos Bipinnatus: Cosmos is drought tolerant, providing abundant blooms with less water than most other annuals.
• Celosia Cristata: Celosia requires a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight and soil that drains quickly, making it abundant in dry, humid climates.
Take full advantage of the damages done by the recent winter weather by making decisions with long-term benefits.