Is The Urban Prairie Garden Method Right For You?

“Urban Prairie” might sound like the theme for the latest Anthropologie catalog, but it’s actually a really cool backyard gardening method that lots of city dwellers have been taking on lately. The “urban prairie” method is great for folks with a busy schedule that can’t quite accommodate several extra hours of gardening per week, and as a result, have lawns that turn yellow and patchy from our hot, dry weather. 

Having a backyard prairie garden in Houston will transform your lifeless lawn into a lush meadow full of wildflowers and prairie grasses, all while cutting your maintenance time in half. Plus, they have plenty of environmental benefits and use up significantly less water. Sounds amazing, right? 

Since your urban prairie will end up filling lots of space in your backyard with flowers and other plants, it will end up cutting back on free space to walk around or put patio furniture. If you still want to reserve some space for lounging around, you’ll have to design wisely and make good use of your available space. Here’s how you can create a gorgeous backyard prairie garden at home in Houston!


How Do I Start A Prairie Garden?

The key to pulling off an urban prairie is to grow native plants from your area. In our case, we’ll want to choose plants that naturally occur in the wild here in Texas. Since they’ve adapted to thrive out in nature on their own, they are typically pretty drought-tolerant and don’t need much water. You can even double down on water conservation by adding in a layer of mulch to shield the sun from evaporating all the moisture in the soil while also preventing weeds.  

To prepare your landscape for all the native species you’ll be planting, you’ll need to make sure the soil is in good condition. Spreading a few inches of organic matter, like compost, across the surface will deliver a steady dose of nutrients so your plants won’t be undernourished.  

One of the awesome bonuses of backyard prairie style planting is how attractive the landscape becomes—not just to us, but to the local wildlife! Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds are much more interested in flowers that they recognize, and native plants are most familiar to them. Opting for perennial native plants will also help to cut down your maintenance time because they’ll reliably return year after year.


Urban Prairie Garden Design

The first thing you’ll want to do when planning your layout is to sketch out your backyard. Creating a mock-up of the landscape will help you to better visualize it, so you can segment it in a stylish way that makes sense and allows for easy navigation. The thing is, when you’ve got a yard that’s bursting full of tall grasses and flowers, you need to make sure there’s still ample space for you to get around. Paths and paver stones need to be integrated so you can access different spots without trampling the plants.

If you want a small prairie garden for a more modestly sized yard, consider reserving some space for a flowering groundcover that tolerates a bit of foot traffic, such as phlox. This richly-colored, low-growing plant spreads quickly and forms a dense mat of foliage and tiny flowers, so you can still enjoy plenty of flowers without overwhelming your yard. 

Larger spaces can be divided up into functional areas and decorative gardens. Bordering the functional areas with some attractive edging plants will help to make everything blend nicely instead of looking pieced together. A small setup of patio furniture surrounded by a circle of wildflowers makes for a pretty dreamy brunch spot, and the addition of some garden art really pulls the look together. 


Houston Native Plants For Your Prairie Garden

Fill your yard with these stunning native prairie flowers and enjoy all the pretty colors and lovely perfumes of a blooming flower bed for a fraction of the effort! 

  • Aster
  • Verbena
  • Lantana
  • Brown-eyed Susan
  • Milkweed
  • Spotted Bee Balm
  • American Beautyberry
  • Winecup
  • Phlox
  • Coreopsis
  • Gaillardia
  • Blue-eyed Grass
  • Pink Evening Primrose
  • Texas Bluebell

If you’d like some tall, wispy prairie grasses to add some texture and movement to your backyard landscape, try planting these Texas natives:

  • Big Bluestem
  • Switchgrass
  • Little Bluestem
  • Buffalograss
  • Yellow Indiangrass
  • Rivercane
  • Lindheimer Rosettegrass
  • Curly Mesquite
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An urban backyard prairie is a pretty spectacular sight to behold, and it’s a haven for local pollinators. If you want to snag some native seeds or starter plants for your backyard, or if you need a little advice on how to create your ideal backyard layout, come visit us at Plants For All Seasons! We’ll be happy to help you bring the urban prairie vibes to your backyard — giant floppy hat and breezy floral sundress not included.