evergreen perenial for gravel driveway edge

casolorz(6a)January 30, 2013

I posted this on a different forum the other day but didn't get many replies, so I am reposting here.

I have about 700 linear feet of gravel driveway which I would like to add an edge to in order to keep the gravel and the grass yard separate. I have looked at doing a concrete edge but now I am leaning towards separating the gravel and grass with some plants instead.
The idea started when we saw a similar separation done with some beautiful ferns however this was done in a tropical country and I don't know if it would work here (Kansas zone 6a).

My driveway is full sun, and I mean all day. It does have irrigation. I have one small spot where water accumulates and could be trouble but I plan on doing something about draining that area somehow before doing this. The soil is clay, but I don't have a problem with bringing better soil and/or doing treatments.

So here is what I want to know, what are some pretty evergreen perennials which are fairly short (I would say 2 feet and lower) that I can use. Because of the length it would be ideal if it was a plant that I can easily grow from cuttings, or splitting, or even from seed. I think the ideal plant we would use for the whole driveway and every so often we would add some nice feature. For example on the driveway we saw that had ferns, they had some nice roses of sharon every so often, and other tropical plants, it looked great, but the ferns were the main thing and covered the entire driveway edge. I am not opposed to using some sort of succulent if evergreen, or some short bamboo (although I'm scared of it spreading wildly) or some sort of ornamental grass (but I would really prefer if I didn't have to cut it at the beginning of the spring).

Some of the suggestions I've had so far are using ornamental grasses, mondo grass, or dianthus, but the concern is always how much sun my driveway gets (basically all day).

Ideas?

Thank you.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

watering 700 feet of bed sounds like a nightmare..

so i would suggest you go after the hardiest of hardiest .. and i mean plants that dont require watering.. once they get going ...

and in that vain.. sedum comes to mind ...

the groundcover version.. interspersed with autumn joy types ... [and flowering shrubs is another issue.. down the line ...]

and i would not bother with amending the soil over that distance ... but perhaps having the clay tilled.. and a heavy mulch put on top ... as it settles.. with the plants ... something like sedum ought to do just fine ...

and you may as well put in a bee hive.. lol.. because when they bloom.. especially AJoy.. you ought to have every bee for a mile hovering along the drive ...

but no matter how drought proof.. you are responsible for water the first year ...

and .. all sedum multiply like rabbits ... wouldnt mind snow plowing, if any .. can most likely be run over with little harm .. truck or not.. lol ... come in a multitude of colors/shape and form .. whats not to love about them??? .. pure genius.. lol ... [if i say so myself... humility and all.. lol]

good luck

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:44AM
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casolorz(6a)

Thank you for the great reply Ken. I have looked into sedums, I really love most succulents, and I have had great success with some however the ones I have used are very short but the autumn joy ones you suggest look very cool and should work just fine. I guess my only concern, are they evergreen in my zone (6a)?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:57AM
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grandmachris

I've been looking out the windows and admiring the things that are not woody evergreens but are holding their leaves and greenness in the winter. In my case the standouts are yuccas, liriope, and hardy geraniums. Our liriope is the plain old ordinary kind with relatively inconspicuous bloom.
If the plants have room to stand alone they have a very attractive appearance. One long stretch of liriope has not been touched with human care for over three years. Here in zone 5 it has moved from the edging into more of a ground cover. Freeze has not harmed it for the last 2 winters. The leaves have grown quite long. This spring's plans will call for using some of the plants to edge other areas and then to go after the patch with the riding lawn mower. Pretty easy care! With a 700 length drive yucca is a possible punctuation plant. My hillside beds are not full sun all day but do have a good bit. I got the hardy geraniums to plant in front of a 4-7 foot high west facing stone retaining wall about 25 feet long. I just asked my garden club for any hardy geraniums they could spare and in two years with some moving around they've grown in to an attractive edge with bloom, easy care, and the bonus of lovely fall foliage color. The areas of different species
make a sort of patchwork effect.

My experience in zone 5 with tall fall sedum has been that
some winters the standing bloom stems are lovely in the winter and some years especially if the deer stomp them I end up cutting the stems down.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:32PM
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casolorz(6a)

Thanks for the info grandmachris. I am considering liriope however I already have some of it and it will be pretty much right up to the edge of the driveway in a small area so I kind of wanted a separation between the two. I really like the yucca idea, I've been looking for a good place to have them.

I had no idea there were hardy geraniums, going to look into those now.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:43PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Have you ruled out the many types of low growing junipers?

tj

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:51PM
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casolorz(6a)

tsugajunkie I have not ruled out junipers except for I thought they were pretty slow at growing and because I need to cover 700 feet I figured it would cost a lot to buy larger ones.

Do you have any specific type you would recommend that I look into?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:57PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Nandina 'Firepower" would be nice along a driveway, but not cheap. They are sort of becoming overused around here though.

What about daylilies? Not really evergreen but they would be nice.

Hardy geraniums are true geraniums. The annual types are actually from a different genus altogether and they don't resemble each other at all, just FYI.

A key question for you to answer is whether you want a true evergreen, in which case a dwarf shrub is probably best, or you just want winter interest, in which case perennials could easily fit the bill. Most "evergreen" perennials look pretty ragged by about this time of year.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:14PM
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casolorz(6a)

mistascott yeah the Nandina firepower would be awesome there but I've just never been able to find enough of it at a good price, I've even tried tiny little seedlings on ebay.

As far as true evergreen or winter interest. Ideally it would be a true evergreen but I would be willing to do some which aren't as long as they don't look awful during the winter since it will be on the front of my house and lots of it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:36PM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

Yucca 'Color Guard' would look so good with those Nandina. It looks good all winter and even gets some pink/red in it. I have been edging a flower bed with Delosperma cooperi and think it would look good by a sidewalk or drive way. It stays green all winter and blooms from April to November here. It's also extremely easy to root cuttings of it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 10:14PM
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casolorz(6a)

echinaceamaniac thanks for the comment, I have a couple of different ice plants in a flowerbed already, they are pretty awesome and certainly one of the plants I am considering. Would love to see some pictures of it being used as edging. I've only had mine over one winter so I wasn't sure how well they did on really bad winters, we've had mild ones these past couple of years.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 10:27PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Have you thought about candytuft? Only drawback is that it looks pretty boring when not in flower.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:15PM
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casolorz(6a)

Thanks mistascott, I had never even heard the name candytuft although looking at pictures I think I've seen it. Certainly seems to fit the profile and I'm not too worried about when it isn't flowering because I can certainly add other attractions to the edge a certain intervals. I'll add it to the list.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:18PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

There are a great many perennial geraniums, but the ones you want are G. 'Biokovo' or 'Karmina'. They are semi-evergreen, deer resistant, weed suppressing, can take full sun, and bloom in spring. You could intersperse small trees or shrubs too.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:37AM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH(4b-5aNH)

My first thought is that this sounds like it has the potential to be a maintenance nightmare, though it might be different in Kansas with its lower rainfall than in New England. In my experience, most plants don't grow thickly enough to keep lawn grass out of the perennials without a deep V-cut or buried edging between the lawn and the perennial bed. It shouldn't be a problem on the gravel driveway edge, however, since traffic will keep the plants from spreading too far into the drive. Since my growing conditions are different than yours, I don't want to suggest specific plants, but you probably want to add that it be dense enough to be weed-suppressing as an additional requirement.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:20AM
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casolorz(6a)

laceyvail, both those geraniums look very nice, thanks. What do you mean by semi-evergreen, like what happens in the winter? do you maybe have winter pictures?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:52AM
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casolorz(6a)

nhbabs, yeah I know what you mean about it being a maintenance nightmare, it is a concern. I am looking into putting some edging, but haven't decided yet on what kind or if it will be needed for certain.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:58AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Covering a lot a area and trainable would be Juniperus horizontalis "Mother Lode". Its readily available and relatively cheap but stays low at 6-8 inches. A bit taller but offering less area coverage would be Juniperus procumbens 'Nana' which eventually mounds to 2 feet.

Not that I'd cover the whole 700 feet with junipers, but use them to add variety to the planting.

tj

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:24PM
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dowlinggram

The first thing that came to my mind when I read your post is sedum Autumn joy. There is a house down the street where they have them along both sides of their driveway. It looks like a green well maintained low growing hedge all summer but when the frost hits it is a river of orangy red

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:48PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Semi-evergreen (for herbaceous perennials) usually means the foliage remains during winter but can start to look tattered by winter's end and the plant will shed them in particularly brutal winter conditions. In other words, the leaves don't turn to mush or fall off when temps drop below freezing.

The geraniums around here keep their leaves and often they turn really nice shades of yellow and red as they are exposed to cold.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:27PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

The two geraniums I mentioned (along with G. maccrorhizum, which does not like full sun but is terrific in shade)are really no maintenance plants. They don't require dividing, cutting back, deadheading, and they are never aggressive, though they fill in their areas nicely. I have nver seen a weed seedling in the many areas I have them in my yard.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:27AM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

Throw in a few Sempervivums for interest too. I think I will do my driveway too. I have so many Delosperma to work with!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:46PM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

Here's an edging of Delosperma.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:23PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Those delosperma look great. I hope mine come up strong this spring, they seem to be a favorite of the rabbits and struggling as a result.

There are some great ideas in this post, but I can't get past the image in my head of a nice perennial edging that's got a ton of weeds and grass sprouts growing in all over the place. Must be the scars from a childhood spent weeding bluegrass out of creeping phlox.... and that was just a 3 foot patch, not 700 feet of driveway edging. Sure you don't want to just line the drive with a couple dozen crapemyrtles or some other shrub that can be easily mown around?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:36PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I repeat--the geraniums 'Karmina' and 'Biokovo' never, ever have had a single weed in them in many, many years. They are thoroughly weed suppressing.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:25AM
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