Suggested Plantings : Property Line

bobby1973September 11, 2013

Hi folks - I'm aware that posting this photo may be a bit premature, but I guess I'm just eager and excited to received suggestions. We're having a new home built in a Maryland suburb and construction is estimated to be completed by December. I'm sure the builder will plop in a few generic evergreens in the ground and call it a day. Dealing with that is a beast that I don't wish to tackle right now because it's way too early. The area that is of most concern to me right now is our side yard to the right of our house and how it meets our neighbor's driveway (actually it's a 'common driveway' that will split and lead to two other homes). I drew a green line on the photo where the property line would fall. I'm not sure if my lawn would directly touch the common driveway or if the builder will lay down some sort of hardscape like Belgium Blocks to delineate the property line. (I actually just emailed the builder that question). Regardless of that outcome though, I'm still thinking that it'll be necessary to plant some sort of species down that property line or partially down that line. I don't want to do anything cheesy like planting a straight row of Arborvitaes down the side of the driveway. And rather than getting down into nitty gritty details like whether that's east or west or full-sun, shade, etc - I'm just looking for something rugged, probably some sort of evergreen, that doesn't need to be babied. I don't think something as tall as trees (Pine, Blue Spruce) is the answer. I'm thinking of something along the lines of 'Otto Luyken English Laurel'. It's about 3' high x 6' wide at maturity and bears flowers to boot. And maybe instead of planting a series of them straight down the property line - maybe instead stagger them down the line? Anyhow, I would love to hear what my fellow plant lovers think would work best. I'm not looking for a plant that will completely shut out our neighbors:) That's not my intention. I just want to create a 'friendly' divider that will add some interest and depth to the property. Thank you so much everyone!

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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Thanks for asking on this.

First - do not allow your builder to plop generic evergreens. Anywhere!! Be very specific on that. Tell the builder the type of things that you want planted in the spring (not November/December) and where you want them. Don't be forceful, but don't let the builder do it wherever!!

In my back yard, I have Viburnum Dentatum 'Autumn Jazz' that will come close to the size limits you are seeking, maybe a bit bigger. It is thickly branched, and although it is deciduous, it still makes it tough to see through and it takes very little maintenance. Flowers in the spring that the insects enjoy and, with cross pollination, you will get some berries that the birds will flock to!

And staggered is a good idea. I agree, don't do the arborvitae, how about something like 'Skyrocket' Juniper?

Jim

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 2:37PM
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agardenstateof_mind

I see treadmarks. Before anything is planted, make sure that the soil is not compacted and is well prepared deep down. Compaction is a common problem after heavy equipment has been rolling around, and your investment in plants will be well worth proper soil preparation. These are going in for the long haul, so do any soil testing and amending before you plant - it's so much easier than trying to correct any problems later!

As for plants, a mixed shrub border would complement your setting nicely. Thank you for steering clear of the row of arborvitae! There are many native shrubs that will give you seasons of interest and be low maintenance. Fothergilla has lovely white bottlebrush flowers in spring, excellent yellow to gold fall foliage color.. If there's enough sun, winterberry holly will have bright red berries through winter for holiday decorations ... at least until the birds get them. (If you want berries on the female, you'll have to get a male as well, unless a neighbor has one.) Red twig dogwood is another deciduous shrub that will give winter color - the branches turn bright red. Smokebush has gorgeous burgundy foliage if you are willing to cut it back each year (but that'll cost you the frothy blooms for which it is named.) There are many more, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.

By mixing the shrubs in your border, you can have a succession of bloom and interest through the seasons, attract a diversity of birds and butterflies, and will decrease the likelihood that any given pest or disease will spread down the whole row.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 6:38PM
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bobby1973

Thank you kindly for that thoughtful feedback. Those were wonderful suggestions. Geez, I didn't even think of the potential problems that the compaction could cause for gardening. I'll definitely prep the landscaping beds before I put any plants in the ground. I agree - I think combining 2 shrubs and staggering them down the property line would look much more interesting.

bobby

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:29PM
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agardenstateof_mind

You have a lovely natural-looking setting, so a naturalized shrub border (or hedgerow) rather than a x o x o x o soldierly hedge, would seem to me a very pleasing fit.

You needn't go as crazy as I have ... I've been gardening here for over 30 years and have a plant acquisition disorder, but for example: In a shrub border in dappled shade along one side of the front yard I have combined 2 forsythia, 2 fothergilla, upright yew, hydrangea 'Limelight', rhododendron, pieris, southern magnolia 'Bracken's Brown Beauty'; in front, to bring down the hedge where needed are rainbow leucothoe, a couple of azaleas, tree peony, deutzia 'Nikko'. The bed also contains perennials and bulbs, but even without those there would be blooms or colorful foliage from April through November. The varying heights, depths, forms and textures provide year round interest; the evergreens and dense branching of the deciduous shrubs provide a nice screen even in winter.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:48PM
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bobby1973

Great idea also. Thank you! Right now I'm kind of interested in learning more about the effects of dirt compaction on gardening. I also remember asking our home builder sales rep back in April about whether we as buyers have any input into what sort of plants are put in around our home prior to settlement, and the responded wtih a 'no'. Of course they said we can do whatever we wish to do after we move in. They are 2 or 3 homes that are already completed in the development and the landscaping that the builder incorporated is hideous. One house has an Arborvitae planted at a corner of the home, that is already completely brown.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 2:49AM
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yardvaark

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the builders landscape is minimal and awful. It's usually mandated by law and the builder's primary interest is that it fulfills the minimum requirements and not cost much. For the most part, the cheapest (fastest growing) plants are used. (It would be much better if the builder did nothing but placed sod, or offered a landscape credit to the new homeowner. The homeowner might be able to achieve the same effect if they bring up the issue early enough.)

bobby1973, it looks like you are asking about a hedge to use to divide your side yard property from the "street." Before you decide on that solution, you might want to have an idea of how the overall landscape will be. It's the starting point and deciding on a hedge would be subordinate to it. If there will be any trees, their shade will affect the hedge (or whatever plants you use.) If you install a hedge (or hedge-like row of plants) you would not want to install them too close to the common drive, and probably won't be able to anyway as there's likely a regulation prohibiting it.

Planting specs. usually call for digging a wide hole for the new plant. So in most cases soil compaction is usually not much of an issue.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 7:01AM
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bobby1973

Awesome tips Yardvaark! I am going to send an email right now to the builder and inquire about the possibility of getting some sort of credit if we forgo their ugly-ass plants:) I'll let you know what they say!

Thanks again!
bobby

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 10:09AM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

And there is this. If they plant just as they finish, it will be cold and there won't be any growth on those plantings for a while. If you have the muscle power, yank them and put them where you want.

As was stated, they won't be high-quality plants, but you will still be able to place them in better spots than the builder.

Jim

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 6:45PM
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bobby1973

Very good point Jim! I'm still waiting on the builder to respond on whether I can receive a credit if I forgo their landscaping. I hope to be able to share photos with you all as the house nears completion so I can show you a better layout of the overall yard.

ThAnk you again!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 11:20AM
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bobby1973

Very good point Jim! I'm still waiting on the builder to respond on whether I can receive a credit if I forgo their landscaping. I hope to be able to share photos with you all as the house nears completion so I can show you a better layout of the overall yard.

ThAnk you again!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 12:07PM
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