February 05, 2021

Beginner’s Guide To Starting a Home Garden in Texas

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Are you curious about starting a home garden? Building a backyard garden can add an extra element of beauty, sustainability and fun to your Texas home. But in order for your plants to thrive, there are a few crucial steps to consider before you begin. Explore our guide of tips and tricks to help you discover your inner green thumb.

Determine Your Garden Type

First, decide on the function of your garden. If you are solely planting for aesthetic reasons, flowers are the answer. If you want your garden to serve a more practical purpose, you can grow your family’s favorite vegetables and ground-planted fruits. Many gardeners choose to combine the two garden types — flowers provide brightness and color, while edible plants serve as great additions to healthy recipes and save you money at the grocery store.

Find Your Garden Space

The next step is choosing a strategic spot for your garden. The most important factor here is making sure your plants will get enough sunlight — most types require 6 to 8 hours of full sun each day. Texas is the fourth sunniest state in the U.S., so this should be simple as long as you are mindful of where your shadows fall throughout the day. Additionally, make sure to choose a flat spot that is not subject to strong winds and is visible from inside your home.

Set Up Your Garden Bed

To keep your soil and plants contained, you may want to buy or make a garden bed. Although it is possible to plant rows directly into the ground, most beginners prefer to create a designated space for their plants and separate them from the rest of the yard.

Garden beds come in various shapes and sizes and are sold at any home and garden store. You can buy a generic raised bed for as little as $20 or make one yourself in just a few hours. If comfort is your priority, elevated garden beds stand on four legs to allow for less bending over while tending to your plants.

While most options are rectangle or square, feel free to think outside the box and make your own DIY garden bed using items from around the house. And if you are short on backyard space, you can even plant vertically.

Prep the Area for Planting

After you have cleared out the sod, you will want to test the soil before you begin planting. This can give you a better understanding of your soil’s acidity levels and composition. Most soil is made of clay or sand in Texas, and its ideal pH level for growing is between 6.0 and 6.8. If your soil is too basic or acidic, you will need to balance it by adding organic matter like compost, decayed leaves or mulch.

Once the soil is balanced, it is time to work the dirt. Use a spade to dig 8 to 12 inches deep and toss the soil when it is moderately moist to ensure it is loose and well-mixed. 

Choose the Right Plants for the Right Time

Now that you have your bed, soil and space prepared, it is time to pick plants that will thrive in Texas’ climate. Since sub-freezing weather is rare in most areas of the state, it is entirely possible to garden year-round. For the summer season, you should plant soon after the last frost in mid to late-March. Winter gardeners should plan to start between late September and early October.

Here are just a few suggestions for plants that will thrive in each season:

Vegetables and Fruits

Spring and Summer: Tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, okra, beans, peas, fennel, watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries.

Fall and Winter: Broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, carrot, lettuce, onion, parsley and kale.

Flowers and Plants

Spring and Summer: Marigold, Caladium, Whopper Begonias, Coleus, Copper Plant, Gaillardia,
Impatiens, Zinnias and Periwinkle Vinca.

Fall and Winter: Pansies, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum, Petunias, Winter Honeysuckle and Violas.

Choose Between Seeds or Transplants

The next step in building a home garden is to learn which plants grow best as seeds versus transplants.

Lettuce, sunflowers and peas, for example, can be grown by simply placing a seed in a small hole (about three times deeper than the seed’s diameter) and watering immediately. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package for further guidance.

Another, easier option is to buy young plants, also known as transplants. Dig a hole about as large as the pot your plant came in and push up to release the plant from its container. Loosen the roots with your fingers and set the plant in the hole. Then, pat down the soil and soak the area with water.

No matter the planting method you choose, be sure to dig your holes at least 18 inches apart to give each plant plenty of room to grow.

Water With Care

It is crucial that your plants receive enough — but not too much — water once your garden is planted. Seedlings should be watered daily, and transplants should be watered every other day. Watering schedules vary with weather, precipitation and soil type, but plants generally require about 1 inch of water per week during their growing season. Use your best judgment based on the feel of your soil. Water your plants less if it recently rained. If it is a hot summer day, your plants will appreciate an extra sprinkle.

Also, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you are unsure if your soil is dry, feel it 3 to 4 inches below the surface to get a better idea.
  • Sun and wind cause soil to dry out quickly. Cooler, cloudy weather retains moisture.
  • Clay soil takes longer to dry out than sandy soil, so it may need less watering.
  • Water early in the morning to avoid evaporation.
  • Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering, as it causes seeds and roots to rot. If your soil is already quite moist, you may want to skip watering for a day.

Maintenance Tips

A home garden is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have. While it takes hard work and dedication, the convenience of picking fresh, delicious food from your backyard and the beauty of bringing your own flowers to life makes it worthwhile. Follow these tips to keep your garden looking its best:

  • Use mulch to prevent weeds.
  • If weeds grow, pick them immediately.
  • Remove dead or diseased plants.
  • Fertilize and replace compost as needed.
  • Harvest your vegetables as soon as they are ripe.
  • Keep taller plants, like tomatoes, sturdy with a stake or trellis.

With the right practices in place, building a garden is a wonderful way to utilize backyard space. With patience, commitment and a bit of strategy, you can grow plants that taste even better than they look.

Starting a home garden can be intimidating — but there are a few steps you should consider before you begin. Are you still looking for a bit of inspiration before you start crafting your ideal backyard garden? Explore Britton Homes’ gallery to browse luxurious designs to help show off your green thumb!