The Lone Star State, Texas, celebrates the Pecan Tree as its state tree, known for its towering height and prized pecan nuts. Although a popular choice, Texas offers a plethora of tree varieties for planting. Given its vast size, diverse climates, and unpredictable weather patterns, wise Texan growers must carefully consider factors such as climate, soil type, average precipitation, irrigation, growing zones, and weather damage when selecting trees for their yards.
Read about the specifics for your state in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:
The state of Texas is renowned throughout the United States as a comfortable, healthy, and safe state in which to abide. It is no wonder that Texan residents may notice new homes being built nearby, new developments and shopping centers popping up, and highways carrying loud cars laid in bulk near their home. Planting trees along yard perimeters will add both privacy and beauty to the Texan yard.
Although there are many options from which to choose, in Texas, a planter cannot be mistook by the American Holly. Growing throughout the United States, American Holly is adaptable, fast-growing, and colorful. Reaching at least 15 feet in height, the American Holly forms dense evergreen walls reminiscent of hedge mazes. In addition, Texan residents can also choose from the Leyland Cypress or Nellie Stevens Holly to form the perfect private paradise.
Texas, in part due to its large size, is home to several climate zones and weather variations. Summers are hot, averaging around 90°F throughout most of the state. In the west Texan Mountains, temperatures are cooler in summer, averaging in the 80s. In the Rio Grande Valley, temperatures are much hotter, averaging above 100° on summer days. Humidity is equally mixed, with varying amounts of moisture in these areas. Winters are mild to cool, with the coldest temperatures found in West Texas. South of San Antonia, temperatures are notably warmer. Most areas of the state do not drop below 60°F in winter.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Houston Black soil covers more than 1.5 million acres of Texan land. Water permeation varies with Houston Black soils, which when dry will cause flooding after excessive rain. When moist, the soil will absorb water readily. Regardless of the property’s location in The Lone Star State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.
The squeeze test is a tool pedologists (soil scientists) use to determine the type of soil in a given area. Remove the first layer of soil and grab a handful of damp (but not wet) dirt. Then, squeeze the soil in the palm of your hand. When you open your hand, the results will help you to determine your specific type of soil:
Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees.
Rainfall is wildly varied in Texas. Some areas receive as little as 8 inches on average annually, while other areas may see upwards of 60 inches on average annually. The western edge of the state, though typically cooler, sees less moisture, averaging only 8.7 inches of rainfall annually. In the southeast, rainfall is heaviest. Some areas in this region average 64 inches of rainfall annually. Dallas sees a moderate amount of rainfall: 37 inches annually. Snow is light or nonexistent in the region. Mountainous areas are more likely to receive snow, with areas in the west earning a few small snowstorms a year. In the south and central parts of the state, snow may only come every few years.
With such drastically inconsistent rainfall amounts throughout the state, Texan planters can benefit from the use of irrigation systems. Newly planted trees require adequate and controlled access to water. Dry spells or droughts can be significantly detrimental for a new tree, at times affecting it for its lifespan. Drip or sprinkler irrigation systems can be an effective tool for water management, both conserving water and dispersing it with ease.
It is no surprise that a state as large as Texas has several growing zones. A growing zone simply refers to the USDA’s determination of areas where certain plants are most likely to thrive, preferring to focus on minimal temperature ranges in which a plant can survive. Texas is home to eight unique growing zones. These zones move relatively laterally, southeast to northwest. In the far south, along the border with Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, Texans will rarely see temperatures drop below 25°F for extended periods. Moving northward, temperatures cool in bands of 5°F, with highly populated areas like Austin and San Antonio seeing low temperatures between 15° and 20°F. Temperatures continue to cool up through the northern regions of the state, reaching the valley in Amarillo, where temperatures may drop as low as -10°F for extended lengths of time.
Drought, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes can all affect Texas to varying amounts. Dry areas of the state often experience heavy droughts, which at times have led to wildfires. The deadliest national disaster in United States History occurred in 1900 at Galveston, where a hurricane killed estimates of between 8,000 to 12,000 people. Tornadoes, though frequent, are less devastating. Much of northern Texas sits in Tornado Alley, and Texas notes the most tornadoes of any state in the nation. As such, it is important to plant trees away from locations where they can be at risk for falling on buildings or hitting powerlines. Trees can also be a protective barrier, guarding against erosion.