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Tips for Gardening in Tough Spaces!

We all have challenges when it comes to our gardening spaces. Here are a few common challenges we hear about from customers at the garden center and our tips on how to handle them!

Small spaces

Many of us in the city don’t exactly have acreage we can boast about. Often, we’re utilizing small areas of available yard space to try and create a garden. We might even be limited to a patio or balcony. Often times, the small space we do have to say, grow vegetables, may be covered by a large shade tree. Our Solution? Containers, raised beds and garden troughs.

Garden table
Raised beds for herbs, flowers and veggies are a quick way to grow in really tough areas and small spaces. These raised beds are compartmentalized, allow great drainage and come in three great colors.

When it comes to plants like vegetables and roses, you have to grow where the sun goes. That might mean growing in containers. Containers allow you to choose the space that’s right for the plant, which means you’ll be more successfully growing it! Did you know you can even put raised beds and garden troughs right on a concrete patio? Sure you can! So if your only space happens to be the patio, don’t despair. Many veggies, herbs and flowers are right at home in just such containers.

Heavy Shade

Heavy shade is a common situation here in Texas. We plant large shade trees to cool our homes and make our gardens more enjoyable. But eventually, those large shade trees can make it difficult to grow the plants we desire. Lawns, for example, aren’t suited to heavy shade environments. Eventually, you’ll need to replace them with groundcovers or other shade-loving perennials.  Choosing the right plants makes all the difference in the shady garden.

Malvaviscus_Turks Cap
Turk’s Cap tolerates dry shade.

Some of our favorite plants grow in shady gardens. Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus sp. is the perfect plant for dry shade, plus it attracts hummingbirds. If you love ornamental grasses, but don’t have a sunny spot,  Inland  Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is happy as can be in a dry shade garden. Have you grown Autumn fern? Its rust colored new foliage offers up beautiful contrast to other shade-lovers. Mahonia, or Oregon grape, is a tough and beautiful evergreen shrub. It’s perfect for shady foundations or natural arrangements under trees. For stunning purple berry color, be sure to plant Beauty berry, Callicarpa sp., which is especially good for damp shade.  Don’t forget oak leaf hydrangeas; these natives are super tough and super bloomers for the shade!

Oakleaf Hydrangea blooming with Inland Sea Oats
Oakleaf Hydrangea blooming with Inland Sea Oats just going to seed in the foreground

Heavy Sun Next to Concrete

You know how hot it can get out on your driveway in summer…it’s like an oven! Often plants that aren’t up to the heat can scorch when the reflected heat gets too intense. Blackfoot daisy, Melampodium sp. is perfect for planting along easements, sidewalks and driveways. Another great solution? Sedums!

'Blue Spruce' Sedum
‘Blue Spruce’ Sedum–gorgeous blue/green color and lovely texture!

Sedums are the perfect driveway, easement or walkway plant for areas that are next to hot concrete. These tough succulents are easy to care for, don’t take a lot of water once established and can really handle intense heat. A few of our favorites include ‘Blue Spruce’, ‘Angelina’ and ‘Acre’. Don’t limit yourself to these varieties, however, because there are many more to choose from.

Native Blackfoot daisy
Native Blackfoot daisy grows low and withstands reflected heat.

‘Silver Falls’ Dichondra is a trailing groundcover that boasts a silvery hue and a tough, carpeting habit. It’s  particularly valuable as a ‘spiller’ plant in mixed containers in addition to its ability to tolerate heat and drought:

'Silver Falls' Dichondra
‘Silver Falls’ Dichondra

Simple Purslane is a choice annual for such difficult sunny, dry spaces, along with its close cousin, Portulaca. Both will provide profuse blooms in numerous colors while asking very little in terms of supplemental irrgation or fertilizer. These two hard-working annuals will provide you with sunny color all warm season long:

Purslane bed
Purslane

Do you have a specific garden space challenge? Come in and speak with an NHG Garden Advisor to see all the choices you have to solve your problem landscape areas!

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