Invasive Plant Replacements

Oh, how often I hear from gardeners who “inherited” an Arizona ash. These short-lived, brittle trees wreak havoc on our roofs, cars, and sewer systems. Recently, Tania Derington asked if her scarred Arizona ash needed to go.
Arizona ash troubled Central Texas Gardener
Yes, says Daphne! With the size of the tree, she noted that it could fall (no pun intended) into Austin’s heritage tree ordinance. Indeed it did, but Tania got approval in 48 hours to take out this potential hazard as we enter fierce storm season. Get Daphne’s complete answer.
Arizona ash cut down Central Texas Gardener
Many of us, me included, “inherited” invasive plants like ligustrum, nandina, and Japanese honeysuckle. These plants are disastrous to our greenbelts and other habitats since they quickly overtake natural diversity.

This week, Nathan Unclebach from Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery offers beautiful, beneficial options.
Tom Spencer and Nathan Unclebach Central Texas Gardener
Mountain laurel is one of his water-thrifty choices to replace ligustrum. In fact, when Greg and I bought our house, ligustrums lined our back fence. We cut them down and planted mountain laurel seeds. It took a “few” years, but now we have an honorable privacy hedge, layered with lots of plants for wildlife.
mountain laurel hedge Central Texas Gardener

Mountain laurels are slowpokes, for sure. To speed them up a bit, Nathan root drenches with Medina Hasta Gro monthly: 1 ounce to 1 gallon of water.

Originally, Japanese honeysuckle adorned our fence. Luckily, it died on its own. Before our mountain laurels got big, I planted native crossvine (Bignonia capreolata). Never have I watered it since, but look at this! It’s still on the fence and climbing into the trees (along with passion vine).
native crossvine in mountain laurel Central Texas Gardener
Crossvine ‘Tangerine Dream’ is a beauty, too. I spotted one at Mueller where birds are nesting, seriously annoyed when I wanted a closer look.
'Tangerine Dream'  crossvine bird nest Central Texas Gardener
For luscious fragrance to replace Japanese honeysuckle, Nathan goes for native Carolina jessamine.
native vine Carolina jessamine with aloes, globe mallow Central Texas Gardener
He’s got several choices to replace nandina, but one is Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’ that grows to just 4-6’ tall in part shade. Mine is not the compact version, but it’s the perfect screen against a rental house next door. In spring, compact or not, fragrant flowers attract tons of tiny pollinators.
Spring Bouquet viburnum flowers Central Texas Gardener
Watch now for more!

So, what about groundcovers for shade? I vote for native pigeonberry (Rivina humilis), Daphne’s Plant of the Week. Once established, it rarely needs extra water except in super dry times.
native pigeonberry berries Central Texas Gardener
Growing to only about 12 to 18” tall, it flowers and fruits continuously from late spring to frost, feeding pollinators and birds. It dies back in winter but quickly returns.
pigeonberry flowers Central Texas Gardener
Let’s go inside for a minute, since we do spend hours indoors—whether at home or in the office. John Dromgoole answers oft-asked questions about feeding and pest control. Find out more.
backyardbasics John Dromgoole
On tour in San Antonio, under graceful oak trees, Pat and David Mozersky’s courtyard garden revels in sun-dappled serenity.
shady courtyard garden front yard Central Texas Gardener
stone walls steel entrance gate courtyard Central Texas Gardener
They opted to build a compact house after leaving the family-sized home where they raised their sons, Joel and Jason. Their new-styled lawn is low-care Berkeley sedge, offset by multiple textures and foliar color. Steel planters promote visual depth and nurture plants that prefer rich, deep soil.
no lawn front courtyard Leuders pathway Central Texas Gardener
To match the resourceful new house, they found Austin garden designer Mark Word to render a stylish, low-care, water thrifty composition outside.
leuders path sedge lawn courtyard Central Texas Gardener
For dimension and purpose, Mark tailored a series of Leuders pavers, tucked in with river rocks to capture rainwater.
leuders path no lawn garden horse sculpture Central Texas Gardener
For quiet and privacy, they surrounded the courtyard with stone walls, inspired by English field stone walls. When Pat found a horse head sculpture at a local gallery, she knew it was the perfect finishing touch.
stone wall no lawn courtyard sculpture Central Texas Gardener
In back, Mark framed the diminutive yard with a peaceful, low-care frame that culminates in a favorite patio retreat.
benches berkeley sedge patio Central Texas Gardener
Pat and Joel lucked into the huge teak bench, perfect for hanging out with her King Charles Cavalier spaniels. Her herb bed on the side adds aromatherapy along with cuttings for her yummy recipes.
Mark Word duo bench patio design Central Texas Gardener
Pat found the bison wandering an Austin art show, and bought it for David’s birthday, since the bison is the mascot at their alma mater, the University of Manitoba.
bison yard art cute Central Texas Gardener
The split level design magnifies space, leading to the outdoor kitchen and dining room, where guests can wander from dining to conversation areas.
leuders path to teak bench buffalo ll
leuders path to kitchen plants sedge ll
Entertaining is important to Pat, who wrote the popular San Antonio Express-News column, Chef’s Secrets, for 22 years.
outdoor kitchen to dining room Central Texas Gardener

outdoor dining kitchen web
outdoor dining courtyard Central Texas Gardener
Joel found a zinc-topped table and old factory lamp for Pat’s ultimate at home secret: creating harmony on your plate and where it’s set.
outdoor dining room and zinc table Central Texas Gardener
Visit Pat’s garden yourself, along with other gorgeous designs on the San Antonio Watersaver Landscape tour: April 9 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Get the details here.

And watch now!

Lots of events this weekend! I’ll be at the Mayfield Park Trowel & Error Symposium on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. to support this historic park and garden. Talks start at 10 a.m. where Jenny Peterson joins us for garden healing through cancer and signs her book, The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion; Eva Van Dyke from Barton Springs Nursery goes for Gardening on the Wild Side; and Keri Anderson from Slavonk & Hortus Terraria goes Undercover with Seeds & Plants/Terrariums Today.
Mayfield Park Trowel & Error Central Texas Gardener
On Saturday and Sunday, Zilker Garden Festival is hopping with lots of new features, include craft beer, bee-keeping, author book signing, music and as always, fun kid activities–including garden railroads. And PLANTS!
Zilker Garden Festival
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda