Getting Back to Our Hill Country Roots
Building with Local, Natural Materials
Part 2 - Mountain Cedar
If you have spent much time in the Texas Hill Country you know about the “cedar trees” that cover its rocky hills. Cedar, actually Ashe Juniper, is also known as mountain cedar, post cedar, blueberry cedar, Texas cedar, and Mexican cedar, as well as damn cedar, in addition to just plain cedar. Officially it is described as a dioecious shrub. It grows in calcareous, shallow rocky soils and flourishes on the Edwards Plateau, what we call home, and the Hill Country.
Locals have a love-hate relationship with this vivacious plant. Residents talk about “Cedar Fever” seasonal allergies related to the tree’s pollination process, as well as cedar’s insatiable thirst. According to Fred Smeins, a prominent teacher, and researcher in the department of rangeland ecology and management at Texas A&M, a “fifteen-foot cedar uses 35 gallons of water a day, nearly twice that of a similar-sized oak.” That said, this plant does have a few positive characteristics; cedar is green year-round, provides natural privacy fencing, prevents erosion on steep slopes, and provides cover for all sorts of wildlife even for the rare, endangered Neotropical migrant songbirds that spend their summers in Central Texas—as well as the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo.
We find that most people who desire to live in these hills appreciate a more natural and fresh, rustic or fame style home design. To create this type of design one typically uses local materials like limestone (see the previous post) and mountain cedar. Are you interested in including this beautiful, hardy wood in your new or remodeled home?