Long driveway...

iggypoppyJune 28, 2010

Hello! I have a long driveway, maybe 75' long with a 5' bed going down the center. I guess it's our own private hell strip. We share it with our neighbors (who have their driveway paralleling ours on the other side of the bed) There are a couple of mature (40'+) pines in the bed and another tree that I cannot for the life of me remember the name...

We've used it as a sort of nursery bed for a lot of plants in the past couple of years. Result: hodgepodge. Some of the plants we currently have in there:

Trees in planter boxes:

Almond (1)

Orchid tree (1)

Australian Christmas tree (currently dying)

Asian Pear (1)

Fig (1)

Trees in the ground:

Strawberry trees (3)

Mulberry (1)

Empress tree (1)

Strawberry Guava (1)

Yellow Guava (1)

Pineapple Guava (2)


Callistemon 'little john' (6-8)

Variegated Hebe (6-8)

Golden Dew Drop - Duranta erecta (4)

Gardenia (4)

Blue Rosemary (4-6)

Blue Agapanthus (4)

Daylilies (?)

Ferns (4) planted in front of the trees

Society Garlic (more than I can count, variegated and non)

Fortnight Lilies (we keep digging them out, they keep coming back)

Cannas (that are dying, I don't think they like the acidity)

Giant ground orchid, has never bloomed

Variegated mock orange (2-3)

And a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember right now.

DH wants something very neat, he wants it to showcase the house... while I would like a mass of flowers and perennial vegetables. (of course!!!) It's probable that very few of the original plants will remain in the hell strip.

Here's a picture of the strip before anything was planted; the picture is taken from our driveway looking toward the street. There's another 15' or so not shown in the picture.

Any help is appreciated!!

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The first question is the issue of joint ownership of the bed between the driveways. How have you and the neighbor shared it up to now? Does the neighbor share your husband's concerns?

If you and the neighbor are likely to cooperate on how to proceed, this is what I'd do.

First, prioritize the trees and plants. What do you want? What can you give away? What isn't worth keeping? What can you move to another part of the property? (It seems to me that you have too many trees, and must get rid of several of them. Plan now for their mature size. Consider their water needs as well.)

If your ultimate aim is to make the strip less of a hodgepodge, that doesn't mean all the plants have to be the same variety. You can tie different plants together with a common theme.

The theme you choose might be large trees with selected ground covers of the same height. Or trees surrounded by plants with the same one or two blossom colors in common. Or a mixture of trees and shrubs surrounded by a single ground cover. Or a row of trees, each encircled by a different ground cover of similar height.

I'd make the design bi-laterally symmetrical: the same on each side of the driveway. Aim for an elegant simplicity.

Please reconsider the Empress Tree (Paulownia tomentosa). You don't tell us where you live, but in my neck of the woods, as well as other parts of the country, they're invasive and a hideous problem.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 4:32PM
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Hi Missing,
Thanks for the response. The neighbor and I are extremely friendly - we've actually taken down the fence between our front yards and share that space too. We've given them quite a few plants, but they have some on their side they are partial to that my DH would never allow on our side such as bird of paradise.

We do have way too many plants, but have been remodeling the rest of the garden and DH has a habit of buying before there is room, so it's a sort of holding area for the rest of the yard. The opposite side of the driveway is about 3' wide and will be planted as well, but I'm putting fruit/nut trees on that side. It would be nice if it could kind of tie in...

I'm afraid the worst/hardest part about this is that DH and I are in two different camps. I want edible perennials, he wants *wow* factor. I like cottage, he likes contemporary. :(

and, on that note: I'm not a fan of the Paulownia but DH is... and we're in San Diego so it's not considered *as* invasive as in other areas. I fought him like mad, but he planted it anyway.

I'll post a picture tonight of what it looks like now. It's very pretty, but very busy. DH is convinced we can keep trees in line and dwarf them but I'm not so convinced. The latest was trying to convince me to plant a Japanese maple under our overhang in the back.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 5:05PM
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