Plants for the hot dry hellstrip

You know where I am talking about...that narrow strip of land between the hotter than hell asphalt or concrete street and the sidewalk.  Plants put in the hellstrip should be able to tolerate extreme conditions:  reflected heat from the hot nearby hard surfaces, dry soil conditions due to space limitation of the bed size, hot drying wind, even on a non-windy day, created from cars driving by, and usually at least a little foot traffic.  Rather than watering the heck out of whatever you are trying to grow in your hellstrip, or blaming your soil for being the "problem",  try some local native prairie plants that LOVE a dry well drained condition.  Here is a simple combination for a site in full sun, that should be low maintenance and low water use once established.

Black Dalea, Dalea frutescens is a nice naturally mounded shaped shrub that puts on tons of small blooms that bees go crazy for in the Fall season.  Its fine textured foliage gives it a soft appearance.  With its natural mounded shape, and a maximum height of 4 feet, this native shrub requires little care.  Don't water it too much or it will rot!

Prairie Redroot, Ceanothus herbaceus is a wonderful perennial shrub with beautiful showy white blooms in Spring, that will be a special draw for native pollinators.  This plant also is a larval host for Mottle duskywing moth.  With its deep tap root, it can take the heat, even though the foliage on this native prairie plant looks like a more "traditional" landscape plant.  Plant this one in mass groupings since it has an airy form / growth habit.  Since this native shrub's typical maximum height is only 2-3 feet tall, it won't require any pruning to keep it in check.

For a low growing evergreen accent, that could be used in a repetition pattern in your hellstrip landscape design, try Stemmy Four Nerve Daisy, Tetraneuris scaposa.  It will have a flush of bright yellow blooms in Spring, and then occasional blooms throughout the rest of the year, sometimes even during a mild winter.

For your low maintenance groundcover in this quartet of plantings, I suggest Frogfuit, Phyla nodiflora, for its ability to fill in the black spaces between the other plants, provide nectar for butterflies, and outcompete the true weeds that were thinking of trying to sneak into your new pollinator friendly garden.

Each of these plants are native to the local ecoregion of the Fort Worth Prairie aka The Grand Prairie Ecosystem.  That is the one with relatively shallow, clay limestone soils.  The ecoregion is geographically sandwiched in location between the Eastern Cross Timbers / dense forest (and Blackland Prairie, even further east) and the Western Cross Timbers / savannah.  Add some of these local native plants to your landscapes to re-create the "sense of place" our the native flora should represent.  The local native pollinators will thank you for the blooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner by visiting often, so you can see you really are creating native habitat with native plants.

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