What would work here?

stu2900April 10, 2011

Zone 5--I'd like to plant something in front of the 3 Arborvitae here. It's hard to tell from the picture, but there is a bit of a slope that's a pain to mow and since this is the view from our deck, I'd like to add some color. Maybe start with something in between and forward of the bushes. I don't want to disturb the roots of the Arbovitae or do anything that would cause a problem,though, so I've been hesitant to start anything on my own. The soil is clay and it gets a mixture of sun and shade throughout the day The sun is sun, but it's not blaring direct sun.

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designshare(z6)

Yes,just some tree,grass aren't enough,add azalea,hosta,boxwood,rock...maybe work.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 6:29PM
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designshare(z6)

maybe you like rose,vine...too

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 6:46PM
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inkognito

I think I just heard the first cuckoo.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 7:36PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Maybe start with something in between and forward of the bushes.

Exactly. Here's an inspirational picture for you, a photo from an occasional poster on this forum which I bookmarked for threads like this one. It's a two- (or maybe three-?) layer privacy hedge, deeper than you have room for -- at least in the foreground of your photo. But it's what you might aim for, if on a smaller scale.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7704550@N02/498266500/in/photostream/

Choose a variety of shrubs with different colors and shapes to make up for the repetition of the arborvitae. I'd use less variety than she does -- but everyone's taste is different. Fill in between the shrubs with summer-flowering perennials and annuals. Maybe some spring bulbs so there's color in the front of the beds before the perennials and annuals come into their prime.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 11:06PM
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stu2900

missing---Thanks so much for the photo, Great inspiration! So, how do I get started? I know I need to clear out the grass, but will digging there harm the arborvitae? I don't think I can till in any soil amendments, so do I add compost to the clay?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:51PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Sorry, sjt2900, I can't help you with arborvitae care. If you don't get an answer here, ask on the Conifers forum. Whether to amend the soil will probably depend on what would keep the arborvitae happy, and also on what you expect to plant in front of them (though most garden plants would like the clay broken up one way or another).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:30AM
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KraB

It would be fine to take out the top 1" of grass/thatch. It may disturb the arborvitaes a little bit but they will bounce back. This is going to take a little bit of labor because it is a delicate task.

I would put some compost on top but not incorporate it as it would disturb the roots of the arborvitae too much. It is not always a good idea to have different layers of soils but it is different story here. Then the 2-3" of mulch.

Look up 'mixed border' on google image search for some inspiration.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 9:28AM
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