Need Plant Recommendations for Low-Income Neighborhoods

greeningup123February 2, 2013

Hello All,

If you feel that this message would be better suited in another column, feel free to move it.

I am the coordinator for a low-income housing company and we are on a "green kick!" That's a good thing. We would like to plant shrubs in two neighborhoods. Each are about 10+ acres & approximately 40 duplex houses sit on the land. We would like your suggestions on plants that would be able to take abuse from kids, snow and winterizing salt. Plants will be installed within five to six feet from the road. Two of the roads are moderately busy and these two roads receive more shade than sun (but still a few hours of sun per day). A couple years ago we installed ornamental grasses in our third neighborhood comparable to the other two. The grasses (miscanthus family) have done very well and look quite elegant. We were thinking about doing something different to the other two neighborhoods (but we still may have a few grasses). So for a site location that receives partial shade to full sun and can take abuse, provide all the recommendations you can! We appreciate it!
Personally, I was thinking about Limelight Hydrangeas because they have a bloom period of at least 5-6 weeks. What do you think.

Thank you very much.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

welcome to GW ...

we cant move your post.. well.. neither can you .. lol ...

but there is a landscaping forum.. and this might really be up their alley.. though i am sure you will get some ideas here ... its not a 'wrong' forum thing.. as much as a source of other opinion thing ...

your plantings are very close to the road.. is there a road salt or plowing issue??? ]more info in that regard] ... grasses die to the ground.. and take a lot of winter abuse.. other things might not ...

and what zone are you??? hydrangea in my z5 MI .. do not die to the ground ... barely survive.. and are one of my more foo plants.. as in foo foo ... i dont think of them as plants that can take abuse ...


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:35AM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

'Limelight' is a Hydrangea paniculata - not a foo-foo, even in mild mannered MI...

How about some images of the site that these shrubs are expected to occupy? That would never hurt in prompting suggestions. What are the soils like? Is there a minimum or maximum height/width that these plants must attain?

I'm going to assume zone 6 for CT, till greeningup123 provides more info. There are quite a few species that could do this job for you, to wit:

**Forysthia x intermedia
**Cornus sp.
**Viburnum sp. (easily a dozen)
**Weigela florida
**Hydrangea paniculata
**Itea virginica
**Rhus aromatica
**Ilex sp.
**Symphoricarpos sp.

Let's hear more...

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:02PM
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You can't get much tougher than Knock-Out roses! And though they'd obviously prefer full sun, I have read numerous articles stating that Knock Out Red (single not double) & Blushing Pink in particular, still do well even in part shade! (Should have 4 or more hours of sun at least, though.)

They are self-cleaning, weather hardy, and VERY disease resistant (no spraying or even fertilizing needed like most in the rose family.) I have 3 double red KO's of my own and aside from some light trimming (just b/c I like doing that sort of thing) I do not touch them & they look wonderful!

They do cap out at about 4' high & wide though, whereas Limelight can almost double that size (at least by height) so.... gives you something to think about! :)

I live in Dublin, Ohio and our city has KO's planted EVERYWHERE! They are awesome on hardiness and beautiful color from late spring until frost!!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 6:32PM
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Karolina11(6b Central PA)

I am just going to chime in about the knock outs. Love them but please do not use them if there will not be someone maintaining them regularly. Rose Rosette Disease has been reported in CT and if someone isn't there to catch it and destroy the plant as soon as it is spotted, then the diseased plant will put roses for miles around in jeopardy as the mites that spread it feed on the diseased plant and then are wind blown. Plus, knockouts are not thorn free so that might not be the best choice for an area with lots of children.

I support the hydrangea paniculata suggestion but you might also want to look at the oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). I have seen it used in a mass planting around a courthouse in northern Ohio and it looked great as well.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Hello Everyone,

Thank you for the responses so far.

Viburnum Valley - I appreciate your suggestions. At one of our other properties we have viburnums (I think 'carleseii' is the cultivar?) They are nice because they grow quickly. Something that blooms ALL summer would really be nice, but I know we're asking for a lot. The idea would be for these to 'pop' from the landscaping, rather than blend in with the landscape. I really like your suggestion of the Virginia Sweetspire. Forsythia are great, but they only bloom for 2 weeks here in CT (no color rest of year).

Florwergirl78 - At our other neighborhood a couple years ago we planted numerous Knock Out Roses. They are nice because they grow to 30" in just two years. However, they do not bloom continuously (maybe 2 weeks at a time). Additionally, they do not get large enough to use them in a way where I think they will 'pop' from the landscape.

Karolina11 - Thank you for mentioning maintenance. We want to keep it as low as possible. At one of our other properties we have about 20 limelight hydrangeas planted in a hedge form. They are currently under 25 inches of snow and I have no concerns - they should bloom just fine next year. I agree with you: While I like Knock Out Roses, I don't love them. I hope are current plantings of Knock Out Roses do not catch this disease. I would like if the shrub of choice in the end grows more than 4' (you can always trim growth off, but you can't add growth on!) You mentioned the thorns and kids. We specifically plant things that are sharp or prickly so children don't rip them out of the ground. We have planted regular shrubs that get tugged on eventually. This is why we plant things such as Barberry, Junipers, Roses, and Ornamental Grasses (the thin blades simulate a bad paper cut). Our ornamental grasses always look so good because the kids do not touch them (and these plants are only a few years old and already 5' tall x 4' wide!)


-Thanks guys

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:16AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

You can not get a cut from Miscanthus. Try it. Pampas Grass, however, can cut you to shreds. That must be where the misconception came from.
I like your idea of planting tough, self defensive shrubs. It's the only type of plant to survive in those conditions.
Been there, done that.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Hey Mike,

Interesting fact about Pampas Grass. I do not think that plant grows well up here in CT. Is the 'sharp-ness' of grass a regional thing? We planted close to 100 Miscanthus grasses throughout many of our properties and the kids sure know which plants to stay away from by now! The Miscanthus varieties we have planted include 'Cabaret,' 'Morning Light,' and 'Gracillimus.' Even if you brush up against them unintentionally they simulate a very bad paper cut. From what you say about the Pampas Grass, it sounds like I don't want to be near it!


    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:22PM
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Crape Myrtle can be shrubs/big bushes. Some lavender, lilac, butterfly bush, azaleas, Home Run Roses... There is a lot of potential and usually shrubs are low maintenance anyway lol

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 3:10PM
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