How can I make this look better?

peachymomo(Ca 8)July 13, 2010

My house has a 1' wide foundation bed that is under the eves so it doesn't get any rain and it gets little direct sun. It is a little strip of dirt between the stucco wall of the house and a cement path. I've already transplanted a rose that was languishing there and it is much happier in a pot in the sun. The surviving plants are not happy but not worth transplanting.

Because the bed is so narrow, doesn't get sun or water, and has very heavy clay soil I don't think there are many plants that will like it there. If I had designed the house I would not have had that bed put in at all. What can I do with the space that will look good and not need much maintenance? Something other than plants, or if it is a plant it will have to love adverse conditions.

This is not a very good picture, but it's the best I have, it was taken during the rainy season so things are a lot greener than they are in the summer.

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

You could pave the bed: something gray, to blend in with the cement and fountain. Then get several good-sized but light-weight pots; if you don't find a color you like, there are spray-paints to use on plastic. Twice a week or so, rotate the pots between this area and a nearby area that gets plenty of sun. [To get more height, you can buy pots a size larger than you need and fill the bottoms with something like closed-cell styrofoam that weighs less than soil.]

Or you could decorate the wall with colorful garden art of some sort. Think color and flat (or nearly flat). These are just some ideas to get you thinking:,38-921,default,cp.html

Or browse the Garden Junk forum for ideas on using decorative found objects.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 1:06PM
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I have a very shady area, too, that can take certain plants.

How about a row of Blue Mouse Ears hostas? These little dwarfs don't grow more than 12 inches and the more shade, the bluer they get. I think the "blue" of these hostas would look very pretty next to the color of the fountain.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 2:33PM
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I would remove all the plants and spread a thick layer of gravel, then bring in some plants in pots that can live without the direct rain and sun. Many succulents would do well there, and you can use the pots on varied heights of pillars.

The bed is too narrow to be more than a "police lineup" of plants that are either too small to be foundation plants, or plants that overgrow the spot and have to be pruned into submission to keep them from blocking the path.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 3:41PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

I like the idea of removing all the plants laying gravel or pavers, I was thinking that would probably be the best way to control the weeds. The fountain needs a new pump but will work just fine once it has one, I was thinking I might wait on that until I get the dirt covered. I'll have to move the fountain out of the way to do that and was wondering if it might be better placed somewhere else? There is an entrance hatch to the underfloor of the house right next to the fountain, it's kind of an eyesore but needs to remain accessible. I was thinking of getting a wrought iron table that would straddle it to make it less obvious. I was also thinking of getting a nice looking rain barrel to put at the end with the gutter.

I want to strike a balance between busyness and barrenness, I'd like the fountain to be the focus without it sitting alone on a gray stretch of rock. I'm also wondering about the heights of things, should I look for some of those iron plant stands so that the fountain is not so much taller than everything else?

Hostas aren't very well suited to my climate, we have to conserve water so I try to limit my 'heavy drinkers' to things that I can't live without - like veggies and roses. I'm thinking that Spider Plants will do well there, they don't mind the shade and are fine with minimal watering. I have some in a similar spot and they are happy and sending out lots of little babies, so maybe I'll just take some cuttings and see how they do.

Thanks for the suggestions, please give more : )

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:17AM
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I have 2 ideas that I have used in my yard. A clematis on a trellis or a bog garden that has pitcher plants, sun dews, etc. Around the plants are the rocks, palm sized and smaller, that I have collected from every vacation and where ever I find 'good' rocks. I water the area if needed 1 time a week. These have been low maintenance but very enjoyable.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 9:51PM
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erela(z9 SCal)

I think you need to have something soften that vast expanse of wall. Something other that plants would clash with the fountain, which is the focal point. You probably want easy and forgiving plants. Maybe nandina (heavenly bamboo) for the tall plants and some small-leafed succulents for the base area that could spill over alittle onto the sidewalk. Once they're established, they're very drought tolerant. Even if you're not getting much direct sun, you're probably getting a lot of heat bouncing off that wall. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:40PM
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I would think possibly creeping fig, english ivy or something of that type to break up the expanse of wall. it could grow around the fountain to soften the edges as well. Also, to break up the monotony, I would think of clustering some decorative terra cotta pots among the ivy/ creeping fig that would be covering both ground and wall. These pots could help you with changing out annuals or other plants that you can experiment with.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 1:13PM
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Don't you want to be a little cautious with stucco? If water gets trapped because climbing plants, trellises etc. snuff out air flow, you'll be scrubbing mold and mildew. Anything with "feet" (creeping fig, ivies) or clinging tendrils could leave traces when pruned or cut down. Your stucco does look to be a smooth rather than textured finish though - but you'd be surprised how fast a vine can locate any little area of stucco checking.

You could possibly soften the look by planting something on the grassy side of the sidewalk - which has probably been mowed by now. :-) How big a space is that part of the yard?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 3:38PM
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