Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Tag Archives: Live Oak

Ready-made Garden Designs

Several City of Austin agencies collaborated on a series of native and xeric landscape designs. They have just released a new one, the creekside design (PDF download).

These designs are listed in my Garden Resources page on this website, but since they released a new design, I felt it was worth advertising them directly. I love to look at these because they provide ideas for plants that are specific to the specific land-type, such as the creekside. The creekside assembles plants and trees for a sun/part-shade land area that has some slope down to a creekbed. They suggest some native oaks like the chinquapin and live oak. Shrubs like Eve’s Necklace and Chili Penquin (edible, too) and some ornamental grasses like Inland Sea Oats and Eastern Gama Grass.

There are 10 landscape designs currently available. These include:

If you live in Austin (as most of you do if you are reading this), you can also order printed landscape design booklets at this website. Don’t be overwhelmed by these – look at them and find what you like and just emulate those parts in your landscape. Do a little bit at a time.

Decidu-what?

I noticed in the Austin Energy tree list that I posted yesterday, one of the elements of the description of the trees include whether they are deciduous or evergreen. Individuals new to gardening might be unfamiliar with the term “deciduous,” so I thought I’d clear it up.

It’s pretty simple.

Deciduous plants and trees lose their leaves in the winter. As an example, the Mexican Plum tree is deciduous.

Evergreen plants and trees keep their leaves year-round. As an example, the Yaupon Holly is evergreen.

We have a pretty short winter, so your deciduous plants and trees will lose their leaves around November and start growing them back in February and definitely by March! Of course, there are always exceptions to rules – or at least other categories. The Texas Live Oak is semi-evergreen. It is considered evergreen because it does have leaves year-round. If you have one, you’ll notice that in spring, it will lose all its leaves while new ones pop through. So you don’t actually see a bare tree at any time, but you definitely notice all the leaves on your property that you need to rake up and compost or send to green waste!

Why is this an important distinction? When you do garden design and planning, you want to take into consideration what your garden will look like across the year. What colors of leaves, leaf coverage, flowers, height of plants etc. will exist at any certain moment during the year. Say you want to have coverage of something (like hide a neighbor’s bright security light), well the deciduous tree won’t be a good choice because in winter, that light will shine through because your tree will only have limbs. You also can plan to have deciduous and evergreen plants in groups, so that no area looks too bare in winter.

I will be writing more in the near future about garden design. Stay tuned!

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