Plant Choices

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live oak


Live Oak

Rounded and densely leafed, the oak is the archetypal shade tree and a stately presence in British and American history. Both oak leaf and acorn motifs have often appeared in the decorative arts. Most oaks grow to considerable heights, requiring plenty of space to spread their branches. Toothed oak leaves are leathery and distinctive; fall color varies from a dull yellow brown to fiery red to gold. Many species feature showy bark, either deeply furrowed or scaled. Oaks such as the Northern red oak, Kellogg oak, and coast live oak are native to the U.S. A number of species also grow in Mexico. A moist, organic-amended soil in full sun encourages most oaks to grow quickly to their full potential. Some species are sensitive to alkaline soil.

Light: Sun,Part
SunZones: 3-8
Plant Height: 35-80 feet tall
Plant Width: 25-70 feet wide
Landscape Uses: Beds & Borders, Privacy, Slopes


bradford pear

Bradford Pear

Snowy early-spring blossoms and a tall pyramidal shape make flowering pear the ideal lawn tree for home landscapes. It also tolerates urban conditions such as air pollution. Select smaller, narrower varieties such ‘Chanticleer’ and ‘Valiant’ for street-side tree planting. A bonus is the fall color; ‘Redspire’ is a good choice for deep purple-red fall foliage. The tiny fruits appeal to summer birds.

Light: Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 5-8 Plant
Plant Height: 25-40 feet tall
Plant Width: 15-20 feet wide
Landscape Uses: Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes
Special Features: Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Attracts Birds, Drought Tolerant, Tolerates Wet Soil, Easy to Grow



chinese pistachio

Chinese Pistachio

The Chinese Pistachio is highly recommended by horticultural experts at Texas A&M. The Chinese Pistachio is a medium sized ornamental tree from China and Taiwan that is extremely winter hardy and has a superior level of drought, heat and wind tolerance. The Chinese Pistachio has extremely hard, durable wood which helps protect the tree from wind, ice and decay. Chinese Pistachio trees have a medium to fine textured foliage that remains an attractive deep green color during the growing season and a spectacular fall color in shades of orange, red, and crimson. In the summer the female Chinese Pistachio produces panicles of inconspicuous red dish flowers that are followed by small green berries that turn red to reddish-purple in the fall, which are relished by birds.

Light: Full Sun
Zones: 6-9 Plant
Type: Ornamental Tree
Plant Height: 25-35 feet tall

This Shutterstock Image was downloaded on 3-8-06 for HSW: GARDENING MADE EASY

Crape Myrtle

The common crape myrtle is a deciduous, small to medium sized shrub or small tree with a variable, moderately dense habit, often multi-stemmed form. The showy pink flowers have wrinkled petals like crepe paper. The foliage is dark green changing in fall to yellows, oranges, and reds. The thin gray bark is exfoliating, exposing a smooth, vari-colored under bark ranging from brown to gray. It needs plenty of moisture when young. After it is established it will tolerate drought and grow well in limited soil spaces. During the growing season, new growth can be pinched to increase flower number and branchiness. The branches will droop as the tree grows. The lower branches are often thinned to show off the trunk form and color. Because pruning can significantly reduce cold hardiness, you should try to have it completed by early August. 

Light: Full Sun
Zones: 7-9 Plant
Type: Shrub/ Tree
Plant Height: 15-25 feet tall
Plant Width: 6-15 feet wide
Landscape Uses: Often used in groupings, containers, hedges and screens.
Special Features: Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Attracts Birds



bald cypress

Bald Cypress

The Baldcypress tree is the classic tree of southern swamps. There, in its native habitat, it displays a peculiar habit of raising conical “knees” from its roots. The function of these growths is something of a mystery, although some believe it is a way to help the roots get oxygen. This tree dwells in swamps because it out-competes most other trees on such sites. To the surprise of some people, when the Baldcypress is planted on the right soil in yards or along streets, it does quite well and is a beautiful specimen tree. It has been grown successfully in cities as far north as Milwaukee and on dry Texas hills. A stately deciduous conifer adaptable to wet or dry conditions. Best known in wet areas, does well in city conditions as far north as Milwaukee. “Cypress knees” occur only near water. Prefers acid soils. Grows to 50′ – 70′, 25′ or more spread.

Light: Full Sun
Zones: 4-10 Plant
Type: Shade Tree
Plant Height: 50-70 feet tall
Plant Width: 25 feet wide
Landscape Uses: Hedges and screens.
Special Features: Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Attracts Birds

red oak

Red Oak

A desirable, large shade and ornamental tree. Tolerant of urban conditions, growing at an exceptional rate in fair to good soils. Does moderately well in poor and abused soils. Tolerant of heavy clays. Grows and appears to tolerate restricted root systems such as planting between sidewalk and curb. Transplants fairly easily.

 Size: 60-80 ft. tall, 40-60 ft. wide.
Growth Rate: Moderate to rapid.
Bark: Moderately stout, reddish tan becoming grayish brown. Smooth when young, sometimes remaining smooth and almost green-gray for several years before finally developing an irregular, interlacing, shallow fissured bark, gray to gray-brown.
Leaves: Simple, alternate, 4-8 inches long, 3-6 inches wide, oval to rounded in outline; 7-9 bristle-tipped lobes more or less symmetrical in placement around the leaf. Considerable variation among leaves on the same tree. Upper surface is dark green and lustrous. Lower surface is a paler green with tufts of hairs where veins connect.
Fall Color: Red-orange to orange.
Flower: Not showy.

river birch


As its name suggests, the river birch naturally grows along river banks. But as a landscape tree, it can be planted almost anywhere in Texas. The species is valued for its relatively rapid growth, tolerance of wetness and some drought, unique curling bark, spreading limbs and relative resistance to birch borer. This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

 Hardiness Zones 4–9
Size: Grows to a height of 40–70′ and a spread of 40–60′ at maturity.
Growth Rate: This tree grows at a medium to fast rate, with height increases of anywhere from 13″ to more than 24″ per year.
Sun Preference: Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.
Leaves: Features glossy green leaves that are 2–3″ long and somewhat triangular. Margins are double-toothed and leaves are arranged alternately.
Bark: Develops a cinnamon-colored bark that curls and peels (once mature). Color: Produces brown and green catkins in April and May.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

Desert willow is a delicate, small, deciduous tree native to west Texas and the Edwards Plateau. Its long narrow leaves resemble those of willows (Salix spp.), although they are not related. Its flowers occur in showy clusters at the tips of the branches and on new wood, occurring from late spring to fall, depending on the rainfall. They are trumpet-shaped, sweetly fragrant, and range from light pink to light violet, rarely white or red. Its ability to withstand arid conditions, beautiful flowers and long flowering period make it one of Texas’s best small native trees. It is easily cultivated but must have a well-drained site and must not be overwatered; in areas with more than 30 inches of annual rainfall, it must be planted in raised beds and watered carefully, especially in winter. Growth is irregular and requires attention to early trunk development. It can be pruned to a tree or shrub; since it blooms on new wood, the more it is pruned, the more it flowers.

Hardiness Zones 4–9
Culture: The species, linearis, and its varieties, grow along arid desert washes or dry arroyos from Texas to California.
Size: Shrub or slender tree to 30 ft. with leaning trunks.
Growth Rate: Rapid
Bark: Smooth and brown on young trunks, dark brown to black later and breaking into broad ridges with small scales, fissures irregular and rather deep.
Leaves: Deciduous, opposite or alternate, linear to lanceeolate, entire, thin, 4-12 inches long, average length 3-5 inches, �-1/3 inch wide, attenuate long pointed at the ends, pubescent or glabrous, rather pale green on both sides, sometimes sticky; petiole short or none, almost winged by the leaf base.
Flower Color: white to lavender-maroon, bicolors
Blooming Period: summer fall
Fall Color: Yellow