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Living at Lively: Small Space Gardening Tips

Having a bit of dedicated green space can enliven one’s home. That is why we’ve made sure each townhome at Lively Lane is equipped with a few opportunities to exercise your green thumb and customize your outdoor surroundings. Read on for some tips on how to optimize your gardening space and choose plants that have the best chance to bloom and thrive!

Where to Plant

All townhomes at Lively Lane have a convenient steel entry planter and stoop, small private garden1, and access to common front and rear yards. Consider these spaces as you think about where you might like to add your own personal touches.

  • Each home’s entry planter is designed to serve as a ready-made herb garden, planted from day one with heat tolerant herbs to support your cooking pursuits.  However, you can choose to make this front-facing raised bed your own with additions or replacements that reflect your personality and daily uses. The front stoop also provides additional space for potted plants to welcome you and visitors alike to your home.
  • Each home’s rear garden1 includes a covered patio and plot of drought tolerant grasses to accommodate some barefoot relaxing. This area is well-suited to container plants or some strategic in-ground gardening.
  • The common yards will be landscaped with native grasses, plants, shrubs, and trees for the benefit of the entire community. These will be maintained by the Condo Association, and any additions to these areas will be reviewed by its board. 

1 Phase II Clever Townhomes have open rear gardens that are not fully fenced

What to Plant

With these locations in mind, it’s on to the fun stuff! Let’s talk about selecting the best plants for the Central Texas climate and the best methods of nurturing them. 

Growing Food: Vegetable + Herb Varieties

If your aim is to be able to deliver food from straight outside your door to your kitchen, there are many vegetables and herbs that do well in Central Texas. Vegetable varieties that have shorter growing seasons tend to thrive – growing from seed to maturity in less time than similar plants – and are more likely to be fully grown before a drastic temperature change. 

The Hays County Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife compiled a Suggested Vegetable Harvesting Guide. Here are a few foods we found on the guide that grow well in our area: 

Spring Vegetable:

  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Corn
  • Radishes

Fall Vegetables:

  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Snap + Lima Beans
  • Kale

The Central Texas Gardener recommends a number of herbs for local gardens – some better harvested during the Spring and others in the Fall:

Spring Herbs:

  • Basil
  • Bay laurel, lemon grass
  • Pineapple sage
  • Lemon verbena
  • Scented geranium
  • Thai lime
  • Rosemary

Fall Herbs:

  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Lovage
  • Mint
  • Cilantro

To promote prolific veggies and herbs, make sure to fertilize the soil they grow in – the healthier the soil, the healthier your plants. Adding organic compost or compost tea regularly to your soil helps retain water and beneficial nutrients for the plants. Make sure to avoid synthetic fertilizers and pesticides as they can be harmful to you, native pollinators, and wildlife. 

Growing Habitat: Native Plants

It is one thing to find vegetable / herb varieties that you can successfully grow in our climate, but if you prefer to spend more time looking out your window than at your cutting board, then growing native and adapted plants well suited for the Central Texas climate that also benefit native pollinators and birds may be more in tune with your gardening pursuits.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin has compiled a list of plants native to the Central Texas area that are great for planting in containers. Check out the gallery below to see some of their recommendations:

Gallery includes the following native plants: aquilegia canadensis, callirhoe involucrata, chasmanthium latifolium, chrysactinia mexicana, conoclinium coelestinum, giliastrum rigidulum, glandularia bipinnatifida, hymenocallis liriosme, lindheimera texana, and manfreda maculosa. Images provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.

Having some native, flowering plants is key to attracting pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds. Herbs like parsley, oregano, and basil are also great sources for pollinators, so you can have your cake and eat it, too. Annual ornamental garden flowers – such as zinnias and salvias – are another good source of nectar and pollen, as well. Having a variety of containers and plants for a small pollinator garden is helpful when attracting a diverse group of butterflies, beneficial insects, and birds.

How to Plant

With a clear vision of your preferred gardening goals, figuring out the best methods and locations for planting is the final step. Mobile pots and raised containers are great for the flexibility they lend to small space gardening; and having separate containers for a variety of plants can help tremendously, particularly if you are looking to rotate vegetables / herbs during different growing seasons. 

For some inspiration on small space gardening, check out these videos from Central Texas Gardener:

Container Gardens

Hanging Containers for Porches + Balconies

Native Plant Containers

Be sure to take careful note of sun / shade patterns and climate in Central Texas when setting up your gardening space, especially when placing anything in ground. We tend to have long, hot summers and unpredictable winter freezes. A good garden design will consider how to best protect plants from the heat and cold. Think about strategic sun / shade locations that can offer protection for plants during the heat of the summer. Similarly, it can be helpful to keep a few protective fabrics around to cover any susceptible plants during surprise freezes during the winter. 

Local Gardening Resources

There are many destinations in and around the San Marcos area that sell a variety of native plants and tools to help you get started on your new-found gardening adventure.

Have questions about the gardening possibilities at Lively Lane or want to run any ideas by our team? Give us a call at (512) 392-3322 or message and we will do our best to assist you in setting up your future townhome. 

Cover image from the San Marcos Discovery Center Native Plant Sale – Provided by the Discovery Center Website

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