The fall weather has finally arrived. Sunny mild weather days, cooler nights, and trees dropping brightly colored leaves are the mainstay of this once-a-year seasonal ritual. Here, in Central Texas, the best thing about the weather is that it stretches out the longevity of the growing season. The long hot summer days makes it perfect for drought-resistance plants to survive. However, if you think you can’t have a backyard full of fall foliage in Texas, think again. There’s plenty of deciduous trees and shrubs that provide much needed shade during the summer months. But, these same plantings also come alive with radiant colors such as bright oranges, reds, and yellows in the fall. So, if you want your backyard to rival the foliage of Vermont in autumn, here are a few specimens that promise to do the job.
The Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemi)
Hardy and simply beautiful the Crape Myrtle, a southern state favorite, takes the top spot as the shrub of choice for Texas homeowners and landscapers. And, it’s easy to see why. This flowering drought resistant shrub flowers the entire summer. But, it also keeps going with most varieties turning fiery shades of orange, yellow, purple, and red throughout the fall season. With only needing to be pruned once a year, preferably in the winter or early spring, the Crape Myrtle is low maintenance. And, depending on the variety, it ranges in size from a small shrub to a full-length tree. But, it grows at a relatively fast rate—one to two feet a year. And, because of its different sizes, the Crape Myrtle easily fits into any landscape plan. To see this low maintenance backyard wonder in its full glory plant it in full sunlight.
The Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’)
With a name such as Autumn Blaze this tree’s incredible orange-red leaves are the perfect addition to any urban front or backyard landscape. This large maple tree can grow to a height of 40-60 feet tall and 40-50 feet wide. It’s also a hybrid that is made up of two of the best: the red maple and the silver maple. However, the fact that it grows three feet per year under the right conditions is its most favorable attribute. For best results, you can plant the Autumn Blaze in full sun to partial shade. This easy to care for plant adapts well to a wide range of soil conditions and is insect and disease resistant. Sounds like the ideal tree for any Austin area landscape.
Bigtooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum)
This relatively slow growing small tree is the perfect addition for yards with less square footage. The Bigtooth Maple grows best in dry weather on limestone soils. But, instead of growing tall, it usually spreads out into a multi-stemmed tree. Before they drop their leaves older more mature Bigtooth Maples produce brilliant fall leaves in colors of bright reds and yellows.
The Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
The Chinese Pistache is a small to medium-size tree that grows in height to 30-60 feet. In the spring and summer its leaves are dark green in color. In fall, shades of bright red and orange grace the leaves of this hardy tree. For the best results, plant it in full sun to partial shade. The Chinese Pistache is easy to take care of. It is drought-resistance, grows at a pace of 13-24 inches per year, and is soil tolerant. In addition, it is also pest and fire resistance. Many landscapers and home gardeners plant the sturdy Chinese Pistache near sidewalks and patios for shade. Plant in a container for a great addition to a patio or garden setting.
The best recipe for backyard success
To get a yard full of vibrant fall color Mother Nature needs to cooperate just a little. Long periods of dry, sunny weather and cool nights yield the best results. It’s also advisable to plant woody trees and shrubs in cold weather from November to January. You’ll also want to make sure they can grow in alkaline soil. To get ultimate results start researching the types of trees you want to plant in May that way you’ll be prepared when fall rolls around. And, to ensure you have time to do other things, choose low maintenance trees. Which means minimal pruning, once a year at and trees that require nominal treatment for diseases and insects. And, since we are in Central Texas where hot summers are the norm, drought-resistance plantings are highly recommended.
In partnership, the city of Austin and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service offer the Grow Green garden education program for both homeowners and landscapers. Their main mission is to promote sustainable landscaping practices. They hold two free homeowner workshops per year. Registration is required to attend. The next free workshop takes place on Nov. 8. Topics range from the basics of landscape design to plant combinations, as well as garden walk and talk and much more. They also publish an excellent resource guide that addresses specimens’ specific to the Austin area. To download a copy of “Native and Adapted Landscape Plants: an Earth-wide Guide for Central Texas” click here.
There’s still time to visit Travisso and this year’s Parade of Homes
Visit Travisso in Leander today and join us for this year’s Parade of Homes going on now through Nov. 4. Tour four amazing luxury homes and get inspired hearing and seeing the newest trends in construction, building design, and interior decor. See a hidden room, a doggie hotel, and a poolscape 25 ft. off the ground. Purchase tickets now and get in on all the fun at Travisso. For additional information call us at 512-243-8583.