Front Landscape using peonies and ?

tifolie(5a)May 6, 2010

Hi all! I am new here and also desperate for any advice. I just took two photos and will try and post them when I figure out how to do that. I have a section along front of house that is sloped and I would like to dig it all out and plant shrubs/flowers. I already planted beautiful (old) peonies that I took from other very old plants in our yard. I would like to leave the peonies, dig out all the grass and plant lots of things around them so I don't have to worry about this grass! Any ideas of plants/flowers would be much appreciated. The space is about 4 feet wide and 30 or more feet long. Thanks so much.

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Here is a photo of the space with peonies.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 9:55AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The conifer is going to influence the growing conditions at that end of the border. The peonies will now have to wait until fall to be moved again, if that is what is in the cards. These don't like to be shuffled around much, top growth will be affected by the root disturbance for awhile after re-planting.

It might be worth your while to hire a garden designer to draw up a plan for a border in this area.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 12:26PM
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bboy: Thanks. I think I might work on digging up all the grass, clean it up and see if I can find someone to take a look. I never thought about asking someone do a little plan for it.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 1:34PM
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Why do you need to dig up the grass? If you want to get rid of it, just hit it with glyophosphate. It will turn brown and sit there till you do something with it. In the meantime it will be keeping out most of the weeds by keeping seeds from penetrating to the soil (at least for a while).

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 9:17PM
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Tifolie, there are many plants that could be appropriate for that area but difficult to advise without knowing your climate zone. Plants that do well in southern Ontario may not survive in northern Ontario. However, there are many plants you might consider wherever you are. Roses go very well with peonies and there are a few hardy to zone 2 and many more for the warmer zones. You might also think about using some flowering shrubs.

I never plant perennials in a row as you've done with your peonies. I think any perennials look best when planted in groups or staggered rows but it's best to do a plan of where you want them before moving. You can move peonies or any perennials at almost any time of the spring/summer/fall but will have to take care to avoid very hot and dry weather and keep moist. If you keep a lot of soil with the rootball the plant may not have a problem at all. Always make sure you plant peonies at the correct depth as they are very sensitive about that.

It's not necessary to use toxic chemicals which poison one's environment and the entire earth to eradicate grass or weeds. You can lay down several layers of newspaper or cardboard and place mulch on top. The undesirable plants will not survive and will decompose and provide more nutrients in the soil for the plants you place there.

Have you checked out the Canadian, Perennial, Cottage, or any other gardening forums here at GW? Lots of info and help for gardeners there.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 11:01PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

You won't have to mow, but you will have to weed, cut back, divide, and otherwise maintain your mixed border. Not that I'd dissuade you as my whole yard is a mixed border, but I'm just saying.

I don't think you need a professional designer, nor do you need advice from strangers who don't know what plant material is available to you. The best place for you is your local nursery, because they will be carrying plants that are good for your zone. Ideally not a big box, rather a real garden centre, but use what you have. Visit throughout the season to get plants that are looking good at that particular time (If they still have hellebores left, you can get some of those for early bloom next year).

I agree you can remove the grass without digging, but if you're up for digging, that is the fastest and healthiest way. If you really want to be environment-friendly you can be sure to compost the removed sod, not throw it away. Then buy your plants, arrange in a pleasing way taking growth into account, leave some space for new things you might buy later, and mulch well so new weed sprouting is minimal.

That's a great space as the fence will allow light from both sides so the plants will grow evenly. The only issue will be root competition from the tree, so there may be some trial and error before you find the right plants for that part. If you move the peonies again they may indeed sulk and not bloom for a while, but it won't kill them. And if it does, what the heck, you have the mother plants and can get more. You may also have grass creeping in from the neighbour, unless the fence board is at ground level.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:27PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

A couple of posters are concerned your peonies will be competing with the tree roots.

luckygal prefers to arrange perennials in groups or staggered rows rather than in straight lines.

If you find that your peonies develop unevenly due to tree root competition, arranging this area in groupings of different perennials is one answer. For instance, if the peonies are progressively smaller the closer they are to the tree, then group all the peonies away from the tree and plant something else in the area closer to the tree. Balance would be achieved through similar mass on both sides of the area.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 2:18PM
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Thanks so much to everyone for all this help!!! I didn't expect anyone else to answer so this is a very nice surprise. I planted them all in a row because I had so many I didn't know what to do...I even gave my neighbour about 15 plants. They are all planted in a row on the other part of the fence too for about 30 feet. The main plants were gigantic. The house was built in 1860 and the plants inside the yard were all over and huge. Very nice...all different colours.
Anyway, I have bought some hydrangea's and a few other things. I will arrange the peonies a different way. I already have some roses and the wild roses make it through the winter the best so I can put some more of these up. Thanks again to everyone!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 10:17PM
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Plan on doing some digging asap. Probably get some type of rose bushes, try and figure out what to put near the tree and I will group some peonies. Someone told me that if you have the peonies together they will all turn into the same colour.... Is this possible? Right now I have white, red, pink and single and double blooms. To find different plants I am always looking at peoples front yards whenever I am out driving around and then I look for them at the garden center. Thanks to everyone!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 10:37PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

It is entirely acceptable to discard plants when you have excess. Peonies are particularly long-lived and so do form huge clumps. You can most certainly reduce the size of the clumps as necessary - you, not they, should decide how big they can get!

Your peonies will not all revert to the same colour, rather, I suspect what might happen is that some cultivars are more aggressive than others and will outcompete them, crowding them out. The other thing that can happen to grafted plants (though I don't think yours are grafted) is that the understock starts to grow and the top growth is overgrown and dies off.

I'm sure your enthusiasm will translate into a lovely garden bed, and I hope you enjoy it. Although I've been through a few years with most of my plants it is an enduring pleasure.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 1:25PM
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Thanks to all, once again. I have been back to the nursery a couple of times and come home with MORE plants.
Waiting for the rosebushes to go back on sale!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:00PM
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