West Texas Landscaping

The ice plant is popular in West Texas landscaping. All photos: Texas Tech Horticultural Garden

The semi-arid climate in Midland and Odessa mean the sun burns bright and water is scarce. So how’s a homeowner to keep their West Texas landscaping from looking like a dry wasteland?

By making smart choices about the plants and trees they put there. Those that are well acclimated to places like Ector and Midland counties can thrive, even in difficult conditions.

Here’s a roundup of perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, shade trees, ornamental grasses, and ornamental trees that will look beautiful year-round.

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For our money, fall is the best time of year for living in Dallas. Along with football games, the State Fair of Texas and the holidays looming just around the corner, our reward for enduring the brutal summer heat arrives in the form of refreshingly cool and crisp autumn air. It’s a great time to be outside and to enjoy some of the beautiful fall color that we are seeing around town right now.

Fall is also a great time to plant and if you are considering adding some new trees, we’ve asked our favorite Landscape Architect, Harold Leidner to suggest a few trees that will work well in Dallas and will pack a punch of fall color. Check out his Pinterest gallery Trees for Dallas with Fall Color.

  • October Glory Maple (Acer rubrum’ October Glory’) – A great street tree that has an upright form and brilliant orange and red color in the fall. ‘Autumn Blaze’ is also another good variety to try. A showstopper for sure.
  • Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) – A beautiful and delicate ornamental tree that needs protection from full sun and can have some gorgeous deep reds, orange and bronze colors in the fall. The perfect understory tree.
  • Chinese Pistache (Pistachia chinensis, pictured below) – A medium sized tree for residential gardens that is rather fast growing to about a height of 40’ tall. Another tree with a brilliant mix of orange, yellow and red colors.
  • Ginkgo – (Ginkbo biloba) – You will almost certainly know where one of these Gingkotrees are in your neighborhood. They are used much less often because they are slow growing, but their fall show of vibrant golden yellow leaves is well worth the wait.
  • Aristocrat Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’) This variety of pear tree is a much better choice than the typical ‘Bradford’ variety because it is fast growing and has a better form and branching structure. Not only will it turn a deep red color in the fall but it will provide a beautiful display of white flowers in the spring. The ‘Capital’ and ‘Cleveland Select’ are also good varieties as well.
  • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) – This tree has a tall, more upright form that is great for parkways or tighter spaces and yields a brilliant blend of red, orange and yellow colors. Try out the fruitless variety as well to skip the spiky green/brown balls.
  • Shumard Red Oak (Quercus shumardii). This large scale shade requires plenty of room to flourish, but provides a deep burgundy door in the fall before shedding its leaves. The Shumard variety is best for Dallas.
  • A few other smaller scale and ornamental trees that provide a variety of fall colors are Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indicia), Dogwood (Cornus florida, pictured at top), Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata), and River Birch (Betula Nigra ‘BNMTF’).

Happy planting and enjoy the fall color show while it lasts.

Chinese Pistache