What would you suggest I plant here?

grullablue(5)June 26, 2010

Ok, after I took a chance on seeds, I have killed the weeds, and am working on clearing the area for something new. I'm tired, actually, of messing with this area year after year. I usually plant annuals here, but what I would like to do is plant some sort of nice looking, spreading groundcover that will eventually fill in the area and look nice. I like creeping myrtle, but I don't want the vines going across my sidewalk. I would LOVE to have creeping wintergreen (evergreen, and I just LOVE this plant), but it is a very slow creeper from what I've heard. I want something that, once established, will drown out many of the weeds. I planted impatien seeds here this spring, thought I'd give it a try...all that came up were weeds, and a lot of them. So, I am clearing them out as we speak, and preparing the bed yet again.

Any suggestions on something to plant here that will eventually do what I hope it will? I have some ajuga (bugleweed) plants I need to move...would that be a stupid idea? And our local garden center has several more ajuga plants, all half off right now... I would love some ideas on things to look into. Perhaps something that I could even plant some bulbs in too, for a different look in there. I have two problems in this bed I need to address, and that is the downspout (we bought a roll up thing, the strap is still on the downspout as you may see in the pic, but it wouldn't stay on). And ground squirrels have invaded the front of my house. BIG TIME. Holes in this bed, and in my foundation planting bed. In this bed, up by the porch, there are holes where they are stirring up gravel/rocks from underground, so until I address this issue, I'm sure nothing will grow in that back corner, they'll keep ripping it up.

Thanks for any ideas!

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I'm sorry, I forgot to mention, this spot faces east, it gets a few hours of morning sun, then shade the rest of the day.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 8:11PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

It is such a very small skinny strip.... Go with woodruff or myrtle or something similar as a ground cover. Even ajuga. When they try to cross the sidewalk, hack them back. Probably twice a year. Feel free to put in some spring bulbs if desired.

My bigger concerns.... The shrub- is that an arborvitae? Or similar? It is *way* to close to the house wall. This will become a problem.

And the ground squirrels or chipmunks.... From what you describe, they are more a threat to your walks steps and other hardscaping than to the garden beds. Most groundcovers will pretty much ignore them. But your walks and steps will not.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 10:17PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Is there a reason (snow, maybe?) you're not considering something evergreen?

Pachysandra will fill in nicely in a year or two. It's evergreen and (at least in my decades-old memory) nearly trouble-free. Inconspicuous flowers. At least one newer cultivar has variegated foliage. If you know someone with a lot of pachysandra, you can probably get plenty of free cuttings (which will fill in that small space even quicker than a flat from the garden center). If you change your mind later, pachysandra can be difficult to remove completely. There are photos of lovely pachysandra beds in this recent thread:

I haven't grown lamium, but everyone raves about it. Pretty leaf patterns and various colors of blooms. Height ranges from a few inches to 1 1/2' or so. I don't know if it would be evergreen in your zone. Apparently some cultivars can be difficult to get rid of.

Sweet woodruff isn't evergreen in your zone, but I can endorse it enthusiastically for its ability to survive in dry shade (surrounded by mature trees, and with very limited watering during an epic drought).

Which brings up the downspout issue. I'm assuming you've got a buildup of ice on the walkway at times during the winter. I think you should bite the bullet and route the water under the walk to a dry well (or whatever's appropriate for your situation). If this is not something family members can handle, you can always hire someone. You might consider starting a separate thread to see what the pros advise.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 12:08AM
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Sorry, I had a whole long post typed out this morning, went to submit it, and my computer froze...lost it all! Hope I can recreate most! I'd LOVE evergreens! Two I really like....the creeping wintergreen, but I hear it doesn't spread fast at all. But I LOVE the foliage, and the berries. LOVE IT! I also am in love with harbor belle nandina, but it's a zone 6 plant, and so I'm just suffering with zone envy there. I don't know if, since it's a protected area, it would still work.... the majority of our weather/wind comes from the west, and the door faces north, with the planting bed pictured facing east. If it was a perfect world, I'd have either one of those, a nice lush bed of it, planted there. Both evergreen.

Linda, it is a pyramid arborvitae. Could you tell me what problem I will encounter? Just size? In which I could prune it... or will I be facing problems with the root system with the concrete? I actually have two, one on the other side of my garage door as well. I've never been told this before!

The ground squirrels, I have them digging insanely within my foundation plantings....it's making me crazy! This morning there were two fronds laying on the ground from one of my japanese painted ferns. They are stirring up all of the mulch, they are living, I believe, under my concrete front porch. The bed pictured has since been cleaned out completely, but there is a rock in there, large and flat, for decoration. I moved that out of the way last evening to see a criss-cross of tunnels underneath. THIS. IS. WAR.

As far as the downspout....when the sidewalk was put in, a PVC pipe was put in underneath it. But nothing on the other side. I suppose we could dig it up and put in some gravel for drainage? So it's unused now, but there if we DO do something...I just wasn't sure what to do, but the pipe under the sidewalk before it was poured seemed like a good idea to me at the time. So we did.

I appreciate the opionions....and I do believe I will look into this pachysandra, I've not heard of it! I saw a dwarf dogwood groundcover in some catalog I liked...and seem to remember it might have been evergreen as well.

But Linda, do fill me in more on your thoughts on my arborvitaes. I love them, love the looks...but I will be facing problems in teh future?


    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 9:10PM
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Are the Arborvitae actually Thuja Occidentalis "Pyramidalis"?

With a fast growth rate, they can reach 12 to 25 ft. tall, 3 to 6 ft. wide. You can trim them, but not to the point of stunting their growth - go too far and you reach the interior "dead zone". Cut into that and that spot will not regenerate growth.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 9:15AM
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My mistake, they are the Emerald Green arborvitae...which still can get pretty large.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:58PM
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I would plant cement. Widen the sidewalk so it doesn't have that trumpet shape at the end and the spot where the evergreen is.

Your entrance will look more emphatic and you will never water or prune again.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:29AM
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