Apartment Complex Plant Selection: Our 5 Expert Considerations for Austin, TX

Imagine you spent thousands on apartment complex landscaping last year, and you’re already seeing some alarming problems.

Fast-growing plants are already close to obstructing your signage. The perennials by your entrance look shriveled in the heat. And the shrubs out front seem to need an endless supply of water.

Whoever planned this landscaping got it all wrong. You’ll have to start over. (We’ll pause here while you scream, or swear.)

Or take some apartment complex landscaping tips from Cory Essman, division manager at North by Northwest.

Let’s do this right the first time.

1. Apartment Complex Plants: Consider Future Maintenance

It’s easy to install apartment complex plants that look great now, and a year from now.

healthy plants and shrubs around apartment complex sign

Imagine your landscaping a few years down the road.

What happens if plants, shrubs, and trees get too big? A lot happens.

  • Trees and shrubs that have outgrown their spots need extra pruning and trimming.
  • Grass that’s become too shaded from mature trees takes more effort to keep it looking good.
  • Signage landscaping that’s grown too tall needs frequent trimming.
  • Plants get too crowded, and need replacing. 

It’s a lot of extra work — and money.

Essman tells of a new Austin landscape maintenance client facing an expensive mistake.

“Whoever put the landscape design together wasn’t thinking of the future,” Essman says. “The tops of the palm trees are just below the bank’s sign. By next year, the sign will be completely covered. They’ll have to take all those trees out.”

Essman likes dwarf shrubs, like Dwarf Indian Hawthorn, a small flowering shrub that’s happy in shade or sun, offers pretty color in the spring and evergreen foliage in the winter.

Its best feature is its compact size — a tidy 2-4 feet tall.

Too-tall shrubs are a safety issue, too.

If you plant shrubs that will grow too big, they can easily grow over your security cameras and lighting or block the signage tenants and visitors need to navigate.

Overgrown shrubs are also perfect places for intruders to hide.

Make smart apartment complex plant choices the first time, to protect your investment and ensure your apartment complex landscaping has staying power.

2. Right Plant, Right Spot

This is a big one. Landscape designers aren’t just pondering which pink rose variety is the prettiest.

They’re thinking hard about how plants have to be placed in just the right spot, for so many reasons.

Apartment complex walkway landscaping

If you plop them just anywhere they can end up overcrowded, vulnerable to diseases and insect damage, or die from not enough water.

You don’t want a shade-loving plant next to a sun-loving plant. One of them will suffer.

Essman tells of an apartment complex where too many trees were planted too close together.

The trees grew so thick the shade killed the lawn and plants, leaving mostly dirt. The resulting erosion has damaged a building foundation, creating a huge expense.

Experienced landscape pros choose plant material that functions for the long haul. That will save you money down the road.

3. Put Apartment Complex Plants to Work

Plants add great curb appeal to apartment complex landscaping, but good designers know how to put them to work, too. It’s all about choosing the right plants for the right task.

Trees, shrubs, and plants for privacy at apartment complex

There are plenty of jobs around your place they can tackle:

Screen Time

Apartment complexes have a lot of areas that can use a nice natural screen, whether to offer poolside privacy or to hide unsightly dumpsters.

Essman loves tall, sturdy Texas shrubs like Flowering Cotoneaster, Green Cloud Texas Sage, and Esperanza, with clusters of showy yellow flowers shaped like trumpets.

Remember, plants aren’t just pretty. Put them to work.

Pool Plants

Plants soften a pool’s hard edges, provide shade, and add plenty of poolside pizzazz.

The trick is choosing the right ones. You don’t want plants that drop messy fruit, have prickly thorns or needles, or attract pesky bugs.

What works? Think tropical. Palms, hibiscus, and elephant ears lend a beachy, relaxing vacation vibe.

Apartment Complex Plants as Erosion Control

Plants are great storm water problem solvers. Strategically installed on steep slopes, they slow down water and soil. Ground covers spread quickly and help keep soil in place. Hydroseeding gets grass established lickety-split.

“If you have enough light, the best kind of erosion control is turf,” Essman says. “It has a strong root system.”

4. Plants to Protect Windows

The sound of breaking glass makes everybody cringe. Have you counted all your windows lately?

plants to protect windows

When turf is planted too close to an apartment building, landscaping crews have to operate weed eaters dangerously close to windows and sliding patio doors.

Despite crews’ best efforts, weed eaters can throw stray stones and break the glass.

Install a low-growing hedge as a protective barrier, Essman says. He likes Yaupon holly, with a dense and shrubby evergreen growth ideal for screens or hedges.

Bonus: pretty red berries and a perfect habitat for songbirds.

5. Choose Landscaping Superstars

When you’re in charge of a bustling apartment complex, you don’t want a bunch of fussy, needy, high-maintenance plants — no matter how pretty they are.

low maintenance plants around apartment complex sign

You need tough guys that look great, need little maintenance, and basically take care of themselves.

We’re talking about apartment complex plants that are drought-tolerant, disease-tolerant, and pest-tolerant.

That’s right — the whole shebang.

Plants that need little water means you’ll save on your water bill. Use less water, and you’re also helping the environment. Tenants appreciate that.

Plants that can survive pests and diseases won’t need replacing as often as less sturdy plants. They’re more likely to hang in there through whatever nature dishes out.

The sturdier the plant, the longer it will last in your landscape. Less worry — and expense — for you.

Do these superstar plants exist? You bet. Just ask a pro.

Autumn sage. Mexican bush sage. Copper Canyon daisy. Red yucca.

No regrets.

Need Apartment Complex Landscaping Done Right the First Time? Trust North by Northwest

Anybody can grab some cheap leafy shrubs and plants, line them up and call it apartment complex landscaping.

Then, welcome to your nightmare.

If they didn’t choose wisely, your new plants might soon outgrow their spot, obscure your signage, or die of thirst.

Then, out they go. You don’t mind starting over with all new plants, right?

Or partner with a skilled, experienced designer who not only knows what plants work great for every situation, but knows the unique challenges of apartment complex landscaping.

We’d love to partner with you to make your apartment complex impressive and appealing and your job hassle-free.

Are you ready for stress-free apartment complex landscaping? Schedule a time to meet with one of our experts today. We’ll gather the details, create a customized plan just for you, and you can stop worrying as we improve and beautify your apartment complex.

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