Suggestions for shrubs/plants to use in front garden

marlen77April 25, 2014

Hello! I am trying to figure out what type of shrubs or plants to put in my front garden, just in front of the front windows of my house. My husband and I tried holly with the hope that it would grow together in a bush that we could shape and maintain but, as you will see from the picture, that attempt failed miserably. We would like something that can be shaped so that it doesn't grow very high in front of the windows (a little is okay but we want to keep as much light coming in as possible). I was envisioning something like 3 identical shrubs evenly spaced across that we can keep neat (low maintenance would be ideal). We live in Ontario (Canada) so need to keep cold weather in mind. Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome!

Sorry for the poor quality picture!

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sc77

Green Velvet Boxwood would be a good choice. Hardy, Evergreen, Dwarf, and takes sheering very well.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:40PM
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duluthinbloomz4

Some of the Boxwoods developed by Sheridan Nurseries in Ontario, Canada, are quite hardy and all have the word green in their name: âÂÂGreen GemâÂÂ, âÂÂGreen MoundâÂÂ, âÂÂGreen VelvetâÂÂ, and âÂÂGreen MountainâÂÂ. The first three are mounded and relatively slow-growing, and so they are useful for low hedges. âÂÂGreen MountainâÂÂ, is upright and pyramidal and grows as rapidly as English box.

They seem to be susceptible to winter scald and windburn too. Burlapping them isn't enough to keep out wind - almost need to put a box over them, which wouldn't enhance the look of your front garden. The only problem I have (I've got Green Velvet) had with them is the growth is maddingly slow - the idea of a lush, grown together little hedge in a few years is kind of a pipe dream in the colder zones.

Look at some of the dwarf spireas; Alpine spirea (S. japonica âÂÂNanaâÂÂ) is only 24 inches tall; the plant spreads to five feet in width though (but is easy to prune control). NanaâÂÂs flowers are pink/dusty rose, and the autumn foliage is often a very clear, bright red.

But, the space doesn't look too large, so finding just the right thing that doesn't outgrow it and then some would be where I'd start on a trip to a nursery or garden center.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 6:20PM
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littlebug5(z5 MO)

Yes, that space is pretty small. It's hard to tell how deep it is, but it doesn't look very deep at all. I think you need to go with something dwarf - but would they be so close to the house that they're under the eaves, causing the lack of sun and rain? If so, you're going to have trouble growing anything there.

Or, if it does get sun, is the sun reflecting off the house right back on the plants and cooking them?

Maybe you should go with perennials, rather than shrubs.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 8:31PM
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yardvaark

"My husband and I tried holly ..." Hopefully, "trying" does not mean to plant it and never return regularly to take care of its needs. Very few plants can become established if their early needs are not met.

Being as the space is so small, front and center, and below the windows, I would vote in favor of it being treated as a window box. Plant annuals during the growing season. Consider using artificial plants/flowers during the winter if real plants are too difficult.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 2:34AM
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lavendrfem(z6 CT)

Holly grows very slowly - so you may not have failed. what sun exposure do you have there?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:16PM
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marlen77

Thanks to everyone for their responses so far. I like the idea of boxwood (will look into the green variety at Sheridan mentioned by duluthinbloomz4) but agree that they can be susceptible to winter scald. Will look into dwarf spireas as well.

I should have mentioned in my original post that the garden gets full sun all afternoon and it isn't covered by the eaves so it does get water. The comment around the sun reflecting off the house and cooking the plants is a possibility that I didn't consider.

Yardvaark, "trying" means that I cover the base of the holly each fall with leaves to protect it, I prune where necessary (which isn't much it seems) and I ensure they have enough water. Is there something else that I'm missing? They were starting to show signs of growth (finally) last year but after a very harsh winter this year, they are looking defeated.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:59PM
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yardvaark

"Is there something else that I'm missing?" I'm speculating on common causes. It is the nature of humans and their busy schedules that newly purchased plants, once or twice or more, will dry out before their owners remember to water them. If you've done it without fail -- always -- you are exceptional. It's a common reason why plants fail to prosper. Those hollies would not be a good choice where such a low plant is needed, so there should be no tears to shed.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 7:16PM
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eibren(z6PA)

I think the hollies look rather nice, in a Japanese-sort of way. Since they are also producing berries, they must be happy enough.

If you wish to give them a bit more of a chance, try removing the flowers this year so they do not put as much effort into berry production and see what happens.

In any case, I hope you will at least find another place for them, as they appear to have been making an effort for you.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 3:25AM
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