DIY or Pay: Landscaping tricks for a beautiful yard

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Colorful landscaping can make a home pop. Everyone wants the look, but maybe you don't have a green thumb or the other kind of green to pay someone to landscape for you. One expert gardener is sharing her secrets to getting your garden to grow with as little maintenance as possible. 

Lauren Simpson's front yard is home to about 30 species of plants and flowers, but don't let that intimidate you.

"It can be as small or as big as you need it to be," Simpson said. "And if your schedule is too busy, that's totally fine to have it smaller." 

What's most important is that you plant flowers that stand a chance of surviving Houston's heat, plants and flowers that are natives to our area. 

"They're easier to raise," Simpson said. "If something has lived here for millennia, it's used to being rained on in the spring and dried out in the summer." 

Websites like the Katy Prarie Conservancy list natives specific to our area like scarlet sage or Indian blanket. 

"Sometimes you can find these things at big box stores," Simpson said."I always go with my phone so I can access these lists as I'm walking through. Is it on the list? Is it not on the list? Is it close to what's on the list?"

Always consider water, soil and sun. Make sure you have the right spot for what the plant needs. Cluster the plants with the same needs together in beds.  

"You don't want a plant that likes a lot of water with a plant that will die if you water it too much," she said.

Simpson says it's almost too hot now to plant flowers in full sun, but it's still possible.  

"You can do it, but if you do, just put a little table over it or umbrella over it. Give it a little bit of shade the first week," she explained. 

Also water anything you put in the ground every day for the first one to two weeks to get it established in its new home. Simpson created a wildscape in her yard. Every plant feeds something like birds, bugs or bees. The pollinators help her flowers thrive. Choosing plants native to our area saves her money and time. 

"You save money by not having to buy as many plants," she said. "You save money by not having to water as much if you pick native species that take less water." 

Simpson will be speaking Saturday. June 2, at the "Planting for Pollinators" workshop, sponsored by the Katy Prairie Conservancy and the Houston Audubon Society. Her topic is “Supporting Pollinators and Pleasing Neighbors: How to Transform Your Garden into a Beautiful Pollinator Paradise Using Native Plants."

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