New to Hill Country Gardening?
Kerr, Gillespie and Bandera counties are located on the Edwards Plateau of the Texas Hill Country. It is
usual for a home gardener in this area to find only a few inches of soil over a bed of limestone or rock-hard caliche*. The soil is typically alkaline, meaning that Texas mountain laurel and pecan trees will grow better than acid-loving azaleas or rhododendrons.
The altitude in these counties
ranges from 1100 to 2300 feet above
sea level. The average temperatures
range from a low in the 30s in the
winter to the mid-90s in summer.
Winters are short and snow is rare,
but ice storms may occur when the
temperature drops below freezing.
Average yearly rainfall is about 30
inches, but no year is average. A
weeks or months-long drought may be
followed by torrential downpours.
Most local public water suppliers
impose watering restrictions during
periods of drought, and in some
Hungry deer are everywhere, and
gardeners must outwit them to
protect their best plants from
But there are many rewards for the
Hill Country gardener, such as clear
blue skies, beautiful views and
gorgeous spring wildflowers. The
generally dry weather means that
there are fewer plant diseases. The
gardener may choose from a wide
selection of beautiful trees, shrubs
and flowering plants that are native
to this area. The Hill Country has a
warmer climate (Growing Zone 8) than
most of the United States. The
growing season is warm enough for
some semi-tropical plants and long
enough to allow for two crops of
Tips for Successful Gardening:
■ Grow native plants, as these tend to be drought-tolerant, disease and deer-resistant, and likely to enjoy
the soil you already have.
■ Choose fruit and vegetable varieties that are recommended for the
■ Plant in raised beds where possible and amend the soil with
■ Use fencing and wire cages to protect plants, especially new
ones, from deer and other creatures.
■ Conserve water by minimizing turf areas, mulching plants and
using drip irrigation or soaker hoses.
Consider installing a
rainwater harvesting system, such as a do-it-yourself rain
barrel or a larger,
professionally installed system.
Happy to share what I
Anne Moss, HCMG
a hardpan containing calcareous deposits, especially calcium
carbonate; often found in arid areas such as in the southwest