Mistake or not? Foundation evergreens

funnthsun z7A - Southern VAFebruary 5, 2013

We had some work done on our home which required ripping up all of our foundation shrubs (shreek!) I have spent TONS of time planning my largest foundation bed just to get the first row in the ground and question myself. Long story short, from left to right, I have an Ever Red Lorepetulum planted on the corner of my house, then a Paul's Gold Mop Cypress, 4 Woodwardi Globe Arborvitaes and a tall upright conical juniper. There will, of course, be several "rows" of plantings of shorter shrubs and perennials in front of that back row, but here is the dilemma: Did I make a mistake planting the arborvitaes and maybe even the mop cypress at the back of the border? They are supposed to grow to 5 feet, approximately which seems right to me and they are medium growth, but is this wishful thinking that it won't take forever for them to get to be a decent size? Nothing else is planted in front right now, so if I need to rectify this, I still can. I was thinking about putting "Gold Coast" English Hollies in their place, then moving the Arborvitaes up (although not sure they wouldn't be lost against the hollies, even though the hollies are variagated--I like contrasting foilage colors, typically.) I have a one-story brick ranch home, so nothing for these guys to get lost against, I just want to make the best decision now and not have to move them forward later. Thanks for any advice!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

we need a pic [and no phone excuses...] ...

listen to me.. i will yell ... NOTHING EVER STOPS GROWING AT SOME MAGICAL HEIGHT ...

especially conifers.. which are trees ... see link on discussion of annual growth rates ... under CONIFER SIZES .. and all types of plants have an annual growth rate ...

most sizes are ESTIMATED at 10 years ... especially for conifers ... and at 20 years.. they will be twice as big ... its all about the annual growth rate.. and how fast it grows per year ...

now.. we start this process .. by you thinking about house maintenance [can you believe it.. lol] ... will it need painting??.. power washing .. ladders for gutter cleaning.. xmas lights etc ... if so.. nothing gets planted closer than 6 feet from the house .. and 8 would be better ... never forget... FOUNDATION PLANTING HIDE THE FOUNDATION.. they are NOT PLANTED 'ON' THE FOUNDATION ...

6 feet.. so that when the plant is 3 feet wide.. you still have 3 feet of space for your project ...

and i will bet a buck.. that this is why the old had to go ... improper siting ...

are you with me so far???

can we see the site??


ps: there is a landscape forum.. which i have never visited.. might be another batch of peeps to talk to about this

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:19AM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

OK, wasn't really going for a lecture, but thanks anyway. I am a gardener, thanks and I know about spacing. Don't need a 101 on that, especially since that isn't the question at all. Yes, I know that they don't "top out" at a certain height, again, not the issue. I won't yell, but will ask again for purpose of clarification: Will the arborvitaes take years and years to fill in as a foundation planting or not? Would it be better to have them as a second row and put the hollies behind them or can I get away with the arborvitaes as a back row and they fill in in a reasonable amount of time?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:42AM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Oh, and you would have lost your buck in the bet, because our work on the house had nothing to do with the foundation shrubs that were planted there for at least the last 25 years, nor was it a byproduct of their placement. They were fine, but overgrown and in need of replacement, nonetheless. Didn't bother me, though because I didn't pick them, they were there when we moved in and having them yanked out just gave me a chance to choose something more to my taste.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:03AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Any shrub which can be described as, "overgrown and in need of replacement" was not appropriate to the location/space, IMO, although encroaching shade can sometimes cause problems with appearance, health. Shrubs need trimming if they won't fit where planted, to remove suckers and crossing branches, excessive twigs (usually a product previous pruning,) or if there is dead material. Yearly height or width reduction is not my idea of fun or a situation that I would intentionally create, especially with something prickly. My elderly parents are in a constant battle with foundation shrubs that, although lovely at times, Camellias, Osmanthus, Rhododendron, Ilex, Nandina, Privet, boxwood... all get way too big for their spots every year, and not something they can handle without help. You have a chance now to make sure you don't have to do that in the future when you're old and everything hurts. Sorry if you didn't like his style, but I thought Ken's input was relevant.

Are you asking if the Arborvitaes will stay or get taller than the Hollies? This pic may help you visualize (click on shape at the right plant.) Known for being more wide than tall.

Ilex aquifolium is a BIG plant, a tree, and I wouldn't trust the label on any cultivar name regarding its' mature size without seeing pics of a decades old plant. I had no luck finding one.

If it's handy to show a pic of the spot, that would save you the proverbial 1,000 words.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:06PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

You don't mention the size of your plants right now. Count on both the Gold Mop Cypress and the Woodwardi Globe Arborvitaes to be around 5-7 feet tall at 15 years old. And getting bigger after that. Like the pic purp provided proves, those Woodwardis will be wider than tall and could eat up some square footage.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 7:00PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

That is correct, they weren't the proper choices for the area, in my opinion, but everyone is different. They were mostly boxwoods that had to be trimmed twice a year to contain them by the time we purchased the house. I just don't want to go to the other extreme and stare at tiny plants for 10 years. The shrubs aren't large at all right now, about a foot high, maybe a hair more.

I never mind differing opinions or advice, I do mind being "yelled" at, though. Anyone can take the time to be nice, even through posts.

Thanks so much, I think I will stay with my choices and leave the arborvitaes where they are. I chose them because of what they will be later, not what they are now. In my head, it seems right to look ahead so that I didn't have to hedge and thin at every turn, but then started wondering if I was being too optimistic with my arborvitaes. Thank you for helping me picture it better!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:26PM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

Those are great looking little arborvitae.
I looked it up and they grow about 5.3 inches in height a year.

Here is a link that might be useful: shrub growth rates

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:15AM
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