How to embrace this WIDE hell strip

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)February 18, 2012

Not as tight as the other one but this long strip between the lot line and driveway is another one I can't seem to get my arms around.

The details:

This is completely shaded from the south due to the large lindens but it gets some early morning and early evening sun.

I've put a Korean Fir in front of the neighbors shed and Green Giant Arbs in front of the wood pile.

The current understory trees are Redbud to the left and Katsura to the right. I'm not going to be able to plant much near the Katsura (at least 6' away).

For perspective the lindens are right on the lot line and the shed is also on the lotline. Its tough to see but the neighbor has a well maintained hedge of Cotoneaster behind the lindens (in front of her shed).

The ideas:

I'm a fan of swooping lines so I'm not sure how to play off the long driveway.

I'm not sure if I should keep the current tree plantings with a simple ring of mulch or create a bed.

If I create a bed/s do I make my bed off the lot line and leave grass next the drive?

Do I make my bed off the driveway and leave grass next to the lot line? .

Someone has suggested to simply use a hedge of Hydrangeas all along the driveway vs. creating a bed.

All thoughts welcome! I'd consider moving the conifers but not the redbud or Katsura.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Nice shape for mixed border using drifts. See Grant & Grant, Garden Design Illustrated.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 2:38PM
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Whaas, what a nice clean looking driveway!

I look at paving and grass as though paving is an inlaid hard floor in the carpeted area. I can see separating them with obstacles only under certain circumstances. (Not this one.) Otherwise, I consider placing a barrier there a landscape mistake of the highest magnitude which is why I'm against lining walks and drives with plants. My vote says keep the grass strip for the sense of spaciousness and "framing" that it provides.

The shape of the drive invites a curvatiously edged bed. I would not have any grass on its back side as it would be lost and out of sight sandwiched between taller material... to say nothing about its being a pain to maintain. In the bed plant whatever you want with the taller toward the back (trees notwithstanding.) For a tidy appearance, I'd keep the foreground trees well limbed up as they grow so that what's beyond and below is easily seen, gets some light and avoids the "muddy" look as when trees and shrubs all mesh into the seemingly same foliage mass.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:00PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I would go with the mixed border from the lot line to the driveway. Done well - with appropritely sized paths if need be to get to the other side or wherever you need to go, and good plantings - I can't see it being a barrier. I can, however, see that grass strip being a PITA maintenance issue as you'd have to keep it edged on the bed side. As much as possible, I eliminate the need for edging chores. The driveway gives you your sweeping curve that you say you like. Keep the plantings low in the first foot or two beside the driveway so they don't hem it in or block access. From seeing your name on other forums, I know you have an interest in plants so assume you would not be too intimidated by a large border like that. (But do plant more densely to give a fuller, lusher look....)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:40PM
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The hell with grass - grow a grove of chimney fire oaks :D

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:56PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

The good news is that your comments have kept me from making a few mistakes. Seeing and hearing it confirms those designs are off the table.

I'll have to noodle on whether I'll have the plants or the bed line mimic the curve of the drive.

At the end of the day it sounds like alternate bed shapes would be distracting so I should just embrace the driveway shape.


There is nothing like 2 year old concrete! Sometime its a bit much but I think the plants on either side will soften it up.

Now I need to learn more about mixed borders. The challenge is drifting the plants. Ron, I'll have to check that book out. the whole point of mixed borders is layering plants correct?

I wish I had more in season pics. This is the only one I had to give you an idea of the grass space and the hedge my neighbor has.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 5:04PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Adrien, that would be quite the fall show! It would actually be a good application if those Lindens wheren't there. I love them but I hate them. I had to do quite a bit of pruning to get them back in check.

This actually isn't an ideal specimen but I kept it for now as it shades from the south. The basal sprouts where insane! It took hours for me to clean this up.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 5:12PM
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That's going to be bed of Green Giants in no time. My 7' plant put in the ground in 2005 is now at least 30' tall and accelerating in growth rate. I would guess 10-12' wide at this point, and spreading. I have other versions of that same cross('Spring Grove' 'Deerproof') and the Green Giants kick their ass in growth rate.

Since it is shady, maybe a sea of Tiarella might look cool. I did that at my house and it is spectacular in spring. I used this path as inspiration

You can get seed grown Tiarella in bulk from Dunvegan Nursery. You get an amazing variety that way.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 9:01AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I was thinking of this thread after my last post on the 'little hellstrip' thread... My post above here where I said I'd bring the mixed border to the driveway is inconsistent with what I drew for bed/lawn edges/spaces in the other thread, when I was trying to make the link between the right and left sides of the driveway. That shows one of the differences that can result from considering the whole space vs. looking at just a part of it and making a bed there. The sum of the parts (individual beds) do not necassarily add up to a whole!

It would still be possible to make a big mixed border to the driveway, but you'd probably want to do something similar on the other side to tie the two sides together. So you need to figure out whether and how you want to tie the sides together and then figure out how to do the specifics so it is consistent with your planting style and preferences for the look and feel of the garden/landscape.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:49AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)


Thanks for the suggestion. How does that plant look for the rest of the growing season?


Good point. That is whay I was thinking about getting better pictures and a plan layout. Hopefully by learning from all the bantering going back and forth I'll be able to bring quality up front in the next post.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:38PM
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It looks great--the seed grown plants can be anything--you might have runners, clumpers, light green leaves, dark green, coloring, odd patterns, etc. They are semi-evergreen as well.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 5:10PM
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