Low maintenance, low growing plant suggestion

lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)June 27, 2006

If you hate "What to plant where" questions, skip this post.

I'm moving so I'm trying to just finish my landscaping so it looks good, but shifting my plans to low maintenance options. Initially I was going for an edible landscaping garden but that is anything but low maintenance. Last fall I bought those adorable pink strawberries, they looked great this spring, but they have proven to be bad citizens in the garden. They don't set berries worth a darn, and they are not a cultivar of the demure, no-runner alpine strawberries that I grew before. No, they have got runners taking over my postage stamp bed. I'm gonna take them out and bring them with me to my new home, (the darn things cost 8 bucks a piece!) but I need a replacement. Now I need something that is low maintenance and doesn't get too tall or leggy.

I have bearberry planted in the bed but it's not doing too well. I think it's too sunny for sweet woodruff that I love. Kinda late to plant lily of the valley. Lamium? My taste is so NOT "low maintenance." I'm going for a mix of shrubs and perrenials. So far in the bed there's a grey birch tree that is dying, a tiny dwarf hemlock, jeddeloh or something like that, a shrubby crabapple, Virginia's rose, a blueberry bush, ferns and unruly mint. If I can get another blueberry I might go with that, but the one I have is the hard to find lowbush type. Anyway, most of those are NOT low maintenance, I'm having a hard time thinking in that direction. Maybe a small shrubby cinquefoil?

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Nell Jean

"Bath's Pink" and "Fire Witch" pinks have a high recommendation; good in sun, fair in shade in my experience. If that doesn't meet your requirements, the folk in Perennials Forum have most of the answers when it comes to low maintenance.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:57PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Now, I'm not sure about Low growers, but I know that there are certainly low maintainance edible landscape plants, why not tear out some of those smaller trees and replace them with Pawpaws? low maintanence, very desease and pest resistant 12-15 foot hight at maturity, or mulberries, they are easy to deal with, and there is no shortage of great nut trees to plant and enjoy if you aren't a fan of frit and berries.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 2:40PM
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pastvast(z5 NW Ohio)

If you're looking for another blueberry plant (or other edible), I've heard good things about Stark Bro's (www.starkbros.com). I think they've got some half-high varieties they also have cranberry plants. I think you could probably find them locally for about the same price (if not less expensive).

If you're looking for more of a groundcover that's very low mainenance and seems to tolerate abuse there's a number of sedums. Below is a list of some evergreen groundcovers that might be of interest to you.

Oh... good luck getting those strawberries out. My house came with them and they were tucked between the house and the "planted too close" evergreens (dense shade, very dry), and I can't kill them off. They're actually invading the lawn.


Here is a link that might be useful: evergreen groundcovers

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 2:56PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

My house is currently on the market (still!). I filled in a few bare spots with wave petunias purchased at the big box.

- Brent

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:23PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Since I am moving I really don't want to futz around anymore with edibles, I just want something ubiquitous that will look good. The only advantage to planting more blueberries is the value of repitition. Right now I only have one because I couldn't get more this spring but the nursery said they might get some in later.

I've hesitated on perrenials because my garden is really more of a small tree, evergreen, bush shapes garden than a perrenial garden. Perrenial gardens are great but ya gotta love 'em to have 'em. Those phlox are stunning in spring, just sit there the rest of the time. I do love them though, love phlox in general but they go with more of a perrenial garden which is not what I want to leave behind, will be wasted unless a true gardener buys my house. I watched my new neighbors weed whack and grind up my former neighbors beautiful perrenial garden, it was a joy to live next to while it lasted. The new folks just want grass, the less the better, they'd probably prefer all concrete.

I have a section of wild escapees from my former neighbors yard, that will stay. The garden already looks pretty good in spring, I need something for summer or fall or just a nice shape all the time. I'm wondering even about some nano-evergreens. Like a tiny mugo pine, which is one I don't have yet, or a tiny boxwood? What I have already is a small hemlock, robusta junpers for privacy and a dwarf balsam fir. Anyone know of a really small mugo cultivar? I love the jeddeloh hemlock so far but it seems a little tender and they're not cheap, or I'd plant another one of those. I'd leave the strawberries and not worry about it, but they are taking over and make the whole thing look weedy. I love the loose, anything goes look but it is not a widely popular style.

No euonymous, no privet for me.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:25PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Yes Brent, quick and dirty annuals would be my plan if I was selling now, but the house won't go on the market for six or seven more months. I don't want any annuals because I'm not even here most of the time to enjoy them.

I'm going to the nursery and see what might be on sale now.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:30PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Vinca or Pachysandra. Evergreen, low maintenance once established, and the next owners can rip it out if they want, or keep it. You can probably find someone who has a lot of it to share enough of it to fill in what you need.

I wouldn't put any money into it if you're selling. In fact, if it's an option, take out whatever isn't working and seed it back to lawn. A new owner is going to want to do it their own way, and will probably remove whatever you put in anyway.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:37PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Well, if you don't get anthing planted, when you are ready to sell just put lots of lovely bark mulch everywhere. It seems to appeal to non gardners. Makes them think it is a new landscape, and it keeps weeds down. And slap some annuals in. I am being slightly tongue in cheek, but not really. Spend your thoughts, sweat, and time on your new house.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 6:12PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Well, I sort of agree Saypoint, and I have turned over over half the yard to grass. But I like to finish what I start. Also, I think neat and tidy will sell better than the wild, blousy look I have now. One side of the yard looks great, the other is a mess. I think that's the problem, the one side make the other side look off balance, unkempt. Also, since I'm not here that often, bark mulch will become weed patch quite quickly. At least that's the way it's going so far.

If I can't find repeats of what I already have, I think I'll just look to pick up a couple of things on sale at the nursery. I've had good luck this time of year in the past.

Speaking of "bad citizens," what's up with my spirea? It's "magic carpet." All the blooms turned black after they were spent. We've had a lot of rain, or do thay always look like death warmed over after they bloom? So much for low maintenance. I always thought spirea was low maint., but I forgot about their raggy dead blooms. The foliage looks great though. BTW, the star, star of my garden is the little fireglow japanese maple that I bought as a little stick last fall from a mail order nursery that someone on the JM forum turned me on to. I didn't even think it would live. I'm gonna try and post pics later in the week.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 8:32PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Well, I ended up buying another magic carpet spirea. It's nice and moundy shaped like I wanted, but the foliage can't substitute for strawberries, so now the bed is kind of out of whack, all the leaves look the same in that area. On the flip side, having more repetition has tied the two beds on the sides of my patio more together. I think I am almost there though. Just ripping out those strawberries with their copious runners did a world of good, making the whole think look neat, tidy and low maintenance, which I think will be a good selling point.

Today back at work I noticed a patch of gorgeous sedums growing with beautiful pink flowers. I'd never seen that variety before. They would have made a good subsitute, with larger leaves. I can never find good sedums at the local nurseries though, and I don't have time or inclination to mail order. Someday if I ever get a house of my own again I definately want a little sedum patch!

BTW, I think these "what to plant where" posts are an important part of landscaping, expecially in a small yard like mine. Tiny, micro yard landscaping is a bit like landscaping a japanese garden. Every plant has a specific role and function in the unified whole, and it takes a lot of work to balance color, form, leaf shape, bloom times, etc. to acheive a harmonious whole. I even threw in "something edible" as a function for some of my plants. I can't think it out on paper, I have to experiment. Some areas of my garden look just right, others need some work but sadly I'll never get to them. They look good enough for the average joe. I love these plants like thyme that do double duty, or others that are multiple seasons. You really have to select plants that are versatile in this situation. I took some pics and hopefully will be able to post eventually when I have the time to process them.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 8:02PM
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