Native florae play an important role in our ecosystem, and many communities are experiencing a push to incorporate these plants. Are you thinking of adding native plants to your yard? The choice is yours, and Shea Homes® Houston can offer you plant pointers.

While some of these suggestions are specific to the Houston area, the general principles can apply to almost any region.

Why native?

Many yards play host to invasive species – plants that originated in another part of the world – which might not fare well in Houston’s climate and soil, or can sometimes actively harm the local environment. This is especially the case in urban and suburban areas.

There are many benefits to adding native plants to your property, including but not limited to:

  • Native plants are more likely to thrive in the specific area where they originated.
  • Native plants can potentially mitigate the effects of natural disasters such as flooding.
  • Native plants make life easier for local faunae, and the animals can help the plants grow in turn.

Plan ahead

Before making changes to your yard, consult the landscaping rules for your neighborhood. You may be able to find these guidelines in your homeowner’s association (HOA) or covenant policy paperwork. Community managers and HOA representatives can answer questions you may have.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a general guide to the state’s different ecological regions. It is important to research which plant species are appropriate for your situation. The Houston area fits in both the Gulf Coast and Piney Woods regions, depending on the part of town where you live. Swamp grasses may not do well in a forest, for instance.

Search your area for reputable nurseries that sell native plants. You can also find inspiration and support from organizations like the Houston Arboretum, the Houston Botanic Garden, or your local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. Get an idea of what plants you would include and where. Perhaps you want to avoid tall grasses because of the risk to children, you need to keep out toxic plants that your pets might try to eat, your yard may be too crowded to introduce a large tree, or your demanding schedule would make it difficult to care for higher-maintenance species.

Front yard of Shea home
What would you do with a front yard like this one in Meridiana?

Integrating native plants

Depending on the scale of the transition and your confidence level, you may want to work with a professional landscaper. Research local businesses and ask your friends, neighbors, and HOA for suggestions. You will want a trustworthy landscaper who shares your vision.

It is not necessary – in fact, it is discouraged – to rip out all your yard at once. Replacing a whole lawn’s worth of grass or uprooting an adult tree can be extreme and troublesome. If you introduce just a few new plants at a time, you can reduce damage to the surrounding environment and have a chance to observe interactions between the different species. And even if you never completely replant your yard, at least you have more native plants than you did before!

You could start by replacing your flowerbed with native perennials like swamp roses, blanket flowers, or Hinckley’s columbines (which are not from this particular part of Texas, but originated within the state and grow easily here). Add flare to your yard with ornamental Texas mountain laurels or pigeonberries. Milkweed is a favorite of the endangered Monarch Butterflies that migrate through Texas every year.

Caring for your native garden

Speaking of insects, you may want to prepare yourself, other members of your household, and neighbors for the ecological changes that come with introducing native species. These plants could bring an increased number of pollinators to your doorstep, which may not be ideal for insectophobes or people with adverse reactions to stings.

Not all native plants are easy to maintain. Every plant requires a certain amount of space, water, and sunlight to live, and you will need to attend to your yard regularly to keep everything healthy and looking good. But for many homeowners, the benefits of native plants overshadow the challenges.

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