need some design advice

mattskivaOctober 23, 2010

I recently created two new beds to help feed my habit... er, provide more spots to place the various potted plants that are sitting on my back porch waiting to go in the ground. :)

I have two beds that are ready to go but I am not sure what to place in them. The first bed is on the south side of my home, full southern exposure (zone 6b/AHS 7) and runs along the fence that is perpendicular to the driveway. I have a small red maple (1 yr old) centered 6 feet in front of the bed which is 6 feet wide and about 15 feet long.

The driveway is quite long, so I am not sure whether I want to plant something large there to make it seem less deep or whether I want to plant smaller bushes that will not distract from the maple (once it grows) and the fence behind it.

Close up:

From a distance (only about half way to the street - driveway is LONG):

The plants I have that need to go in somewhere (and might work here) are the following:

Confederate Rose - will become a tall, 10 foot small tree

European Snowball Bush - also a small tree, the kind with the big white pompom flowers

Minerva Rose of Sharon - I have two of these

Variegated Rose of Sharon

Black Lace Elderberry - two of these

Midwinter Fire Redtwig Dogwood

Butterfly Bush - I have three of these, they are the really big kind

Variegated korean forsythia

Blue Shadow Dwarf Fothergilla

Flowering Quince - two of these, one is peach and one is red

Snow Storm Spiraea

Abelia - two of these, a Little Richard and a Compacta

Lady in Black Aster

Loropetalum Chinense 'Zhouzhou' - two of these

The bed is big enough for three large bushes, and I was thinking of possibly doing something like two loropetalum (for the red foliage) with a butterfly bush in between them - but not sure how this will look with the maple eventually right in front of three very large bushes.

The second bed is on the north side of the house, and also receives pretty close to full sun except for a few hours mid-day. It is also 6 feet deep and would hold 3-4 large shrubs. I am looking to choose from the same list in this location. There are beds already on either side of this new bed; on the south side (close to the house) is a bed with hellebores and euphorbia (full shade) and on the north side (next to the trees on the right) is a full sun bed.

Any advice?

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I think you need evergreen shrub,tree match your environment and property.your designing should be a theme,avoid any chaos.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 5:10PM
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    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 5:51PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

You know, Ideasshare, if you would stick to words and stop posting pictures, you might actually contribute something useful sometimes. The word "evergreen" is not a bad point.

What strikes me is that all your material is deciduous, and thus will not stand out against the woody backdrop once it grows over the fence (especially in winter). And even if it did stand out, it has little by way of shape or structure to recommend it, unless you prune for a certain effect.

The problem is, you're kind of going about this all backward by making the beds first and then choosing the plants. If it were me with all that space, I think I would consider where I wanted the plants - and the shade, screening, appearance that they offer - and THEN make the bed. And I don't think the fence would be my choice (controlling grass encroachment from the backside will be tough, among other reasons. Any reason you didn't put beds somewhere else?

Now, it's possible you kind of subconsciously did that and this bed is where you want those plants. So now what I'd do is put them together for maximum foliage contrast and height/shape complementarity. If they bloom at the same time then factor in the flowers, but otherwise forget it - if they bloom at different times the flowers don't need to match or complement.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 12:59PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

In the second photo, why not join the new raised bed to the established bed which is at right angles to it? (And then add a few of the same lower plants from the older bed in front of the shrubs in the new bed, to tie the two sections together.) Similarly, I'd take the bed in the first photo all the way to the driveway. Fewer edges; fewer odd patches of grass to mow.

I can't see where the backs of the new beds are in relation to the fences. You don't want the raised earth against the boards that make up the fence, or they will decay. But if the raised beds end at some distance from the fences, then you've got even more grass to whack, and on both sides of the fence.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:05PM
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I hate to say this but you have quite alot of plants to place, all of them will get pretty big, most are small trees to large shrubs. And the property is very large. You will probably continue your habit of buying more plants and making more beds. (I can't stop). So I think you need somewhat of a master plan, much more space for beds. You can do this yourself, gradually over time, or you can hire a professional for a master plan and you do the grunt work. Seems like you like a mixed shrub border, and I agree with the foliage contrast and make sure you have interest throughout the seasons. Since your driveway is very long and the view from the street is far, I do think you need rather large shrubs.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 7:08PM
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