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Gardening: Overgrown Shrub Image

Very nice and very healthy plant in a very bad and very dangerous location! Plants are like puppies— they are going to grow up. Large shrubs along home driveways pose serious traffic hazards when backing onto the street. Large shrubs are also problematic for street traffic when children are playing on driveways—kids will be kids and they will dart out into the street without warning.

Photo Credit: Dr. William M. Johnson

Common landscaping mistakes

By Dr. William M. Johnson, Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

May 8, 2007

Fruit Orchard & Garden Tour

Saturday, May 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Master Gardener Demonstration Orchard & Garden
in Carbide Park,
La Marque and
Fruit ’n Such Orchard
located at 6309 Avenue U in Texas City.

Although dollars spent on landscaping can pay big dividends, the trick is to stretch those dollars and make the most of the money invested. Here are some money-saving dollar-stretching suggestions for you to consider:

THE “WOS” LANDSCAPING PHILOSOPHY: Avoid practicing the WOS or “What’s On Sale” approach to landscaping. It is quite acceptable and appropriate to purchase high quality plants that are on sale but do not fall hostage to just purchasing a plant on impulse simply because it’s on sale and then deciding later where you might place the plant or how it might fit in the overall landscape scheme.

WRONG LOCATION FOR PLANT HEALTH: Selecting the wrong plant for a specific location or growing environment in the landscape is a critical landscaping mistake. Proper plant selection should include only plants that are well-adapted to our Gulf Coast growing conditions and to the specific location in the landscape (shade vs. sun, well-drained vs. wet soil). This concept of being well-adapted applies to your “foundation” landscape plants which can be expected to survive our hot and cold weather seasons.

However, it is quite satisfactory to include tropical and subtropical plants such as papayas, citrus, hibiscus, etc. as part of the landscape. If cold weather zaps them, they can be replaced without replacing the entire landscape. Oftentimes homeowners see a beautiful plant in a magazine, seed catalog or even a retail nursery and decide that they must have that plant in their yard. If that plant is not suited to its environment, it is apt to die, look bad, or require too much care.

FAILURE TO CONSIDER SIZE AT MATURITY: Many times, homeowners place trees and shrubs that grow very well in this area but they do not take into account how large or tall the plants can get. Examples of this are shrubs that get so big they cover the walkway or a window. The scenarios are endless; however, a little bit of planning will go a long way in preventing these disasters. Be sure to note a plant’s mature height and width before you place the plant in your landscape. Plants are like puppies; they start off cute and small, but they’re going to grow up!

BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER: Purchasing the biggest trees is not always a wise investment when landscaping your home. These big trees are often set back drastically during digging and transplanting, and may take years to recover from transplanting shock.

Many times, a smaller tree will re-establish itself more rapidly, producing a nicer tree in a shorter time period. With the money you save buying smaller trees, you can get a good start on the rest of your landscape.

High-quality trees are a good investment. Although there is a time and place for 'fast growers', do not overlook the dependable varieties such as many oaks and certain elms and cedars. They will last longer, and you will have fewer insect, disease, and pruning headaches in the meantime.

SCATTERGUN PLANTING: Even when homeowners select plants that are suited to their environment, they often make the mistake of planting one of everything they can find at the nursery. Too much diversity in your landscape can turn it into a mish-mash. A mass planting of one kind of plant will have more visual impact than the same space filled with a scattering of different plants. Repeat some of the same colors and plants throughout your landscape to create a unifying effect.

BURYING VS PLANTING PLANTS: Many landscape trees and shrubs start out on negative footing by being planted—or buried—too deeply. Remember to always place the ball of landscape trees and shrubs even or slightly above the existing soil line.

LEVELING LAWNS WITH SAND: Top-dressing your lawn with sand on a regular basis is not a recommended practice. While minor low spots can be corrected this way, you can easily overdo it and smother your lawn. Sand does not hold moisture well. During dry weather, turfgrass growing in areas of deep sand will be more stressed than those growing in native soils.

This overview is not intended to instill paranoia in making improvements in your landscape endeavors. Don’t worry about making a major mistake in your landscape as most mistakes can be easily fixed. The wonderful thing about a landscape is that the decisions don’t have to be permanent. Landscapes should be refreshed and updated to fix problems or to change with your tastes and your gardening discoveries.

As you think about modifications to your landscape, plan outings to public gardens, scope out neighbors’ landscapes, look in magazines and books and search the many web sites available. The more you see, the better you will know how to landscape your own yard. Enjoy the blessings of gardening.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at

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Gardening: Bananas - August 1, 2004 article

Gardening: August Gardening Calendar - August 16, 2004 article

Gardening: Trio Of Extension Programs Includes Pear Tasting, Master Naturalist Class & Rose Seminar - August 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Prepare Now For Fall Gardens - August 26, 2004 article

Gardening: September's Garden Calendar Includes Fall Pecan Field Day - September 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Ornamental Grasses - September 8, 2004 article

Gardening: Don't Let Landscape Become A High-Maintenance Nightmare - September 22, 2004 article

Gardening: Oct. 10 Plant Sale & Seminar To Feature Butterfly Gardening - Butterflies Bring Color, Motion to Garden - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Plant It And They Will Come: Getting the Butterflies of Galveston County to Grace Your Yard - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Rose Propagation & Seasonal Decorating Workshops To Be Held - October 13, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29, Seasonal Decorations and Onion and Garlic Workshops - October 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29 and County Pecan Show - October 27, 2004 article

Gardening: November Is Pansy Time - November 6, 2004 article

Gardening: County Pecan Growers Display Their Successes - November 11, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Questions On Fall Crops - November 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Q&As For November - November 28, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' December Checklist Includes Citrus Show On Dec. 9 - December 3, 2004 article

Gardening: Citrus Show A Huge Success With 185 Entries - December 19, 2004 article

Gardening: Trees and Shrubs - December 23, 2004 article

Gardening: Cold Weather Impact - January 4, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Checklist For January Includes Several Educational Programs - January 7, 2005 article

Gardening:Announcing the 2005 Galveston County Master Gardener Training - January 13, 2005 article

Gardening:Peach & Plum Growers' Workshop To Be Held Saturday, January 29 - January 19, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardening for Texas Wildlife - January 28, 2005 article

Gardening: Wide Variety of Citrus to Be Available at February 5 Fruit Tree Sale and Home Citrus Production - January 31, 2005 article

Gardening: Fruit Trees Of The Gods Featured In February 5 Master Gardener Plant Sale - February 2, 2005 article

Gardening: "If I Were A Tomato, I Would Want To Be Grown In Texas . . . Galveston County, That Is!" Workshop to be held February 12 - February 9, 2005 article

Gardening: February Is Rose Pruning Time...Attend Rose Care Seminar to Learn How - February 16, 2005 article

Gardening: Extension Activities At The Home & Garden Show On Feb. 26-27 - February 23, 2005 article

Gardening: March Gardening Calendar Includes Seminar On Butterfly Gardening - March 2, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Q&As From The Galveston Home & Garden Show - March 10, 2005 article

Gardening: Extension Offers Program On "Living To Be 100 . . . A Commonsense Approach." - March 16, 2005 article

Gardening: Program On Plumeria Offered On March 26- March 29, 2005 article

Gardening: Garden Checklist For April Includes Pecan Field Day - April 6, 2005 article

Gardening: Hints On Harvesting Vegetables For Peak Flavor - April 15, 2005 article

Gardening: Fresh Blueberries From Your Home Garden Seminar On Saturday, April 23 - April 22, 2005 article

Gardening: Learn About Weed Control - April 27, 2005 article

Gardening: Home Gardening Chores and May 14 Home Fruit Growers’ Tour - May 5, 2005 article

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