Planting a shrub border

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

We pulled out old arborvitaes & moved perennials to make room for a shrub border. The site will be approx 15 ft deep & 36-38 ft long. Either end of this strip has lilacs plus 1 hibiscus, Rose of Sharon.
We have purchased 1 ea.: Choisya Ternata Mock Orange 6-8 ft tall & wide. Paniculata hydrangea Vanilla Strawberry 6-7 ft tall 4-5 ft w. I am asking for suggestions for additional plants for this area. East side so lots of sun. So a few more biggies and then some smaller plants for the 2nd row? Do I plant these so @ maturity their 'fingers' just touch or closer?
I love free advice. Thank you. Mary

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Well, I'm always going on about ninebarks, and it seems as if you have room for them. The dark-leaved varieties look fantastic with sunlight streaming through their leaves.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Added to my 'research' list. Thank you.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

ohhhh ohhhhh! I like the Coppertina (Nine Bark)

Lake Stevens, WA

What about a viburnum 'Dawn' Has a pink blossom very early, like around Feb.
Aslo a viburnum 'spice' or might be 'oriental spice'. It smells wonderful. What about a witch hazel? They bloom early too and smell. Make sure you plant things of interst for all seasons.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Coppertina is possibly the most beautiful of the bunch, and a bit smaller.
Definitely plant for fragrance.
And as spring says, for all seasons. I don't think you had any evergreens on your list? Even something like pieris, if you don't want traditional ones.
Beauty berry (callicarpa) is another great choice -- the winter berries are a heavenly lavender if the birds don't get 'em.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Yes, I need another evergreen or 2. My mock orange is evergreen.

Salem, OR(Zone 8b)

Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet' is evergreen. It blooms extremely early, like January-February. I really like the Fothergillas I added to my yard this year, and I am looking forward to their fall colors (I put in both 'Mt. Airy' and 'Jane Platt'). I like intermixing columnar formed evergreens with rounded blooming deciduous shrubs. I like my Italian cypress, skyrocket junipers, pencil barberries, etc...

Burien, WA(Zone 7b)

I really like a lot of the dwarf crytomerias. They are hard to find anything bigger than a 1 gallon and are slow growing, but they are beautiful to look at. I have 3 varieties, Knaptonensis, pygmaea, and koshyi.

I also reall like the dwarf Chamaecyparis gold fern. Not at all deer resistant though. Also slow growing.

What kind of characteristics are you looking for in your evergreen? Needles or leaves? Ultimate size? Blooms? Ect...

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

The Choisya Ternata (mock orange)is round w/ shiny leaf & I think I will incorporate a Sky Pencil Holly for texture/height variety. I am open to suggestions.

I have had Spiraea Prunifolia (bridal wreath) on my I WANT list for a long time. I really like the airy-ness & old fashioned-ness of it. & a flowering quince is on that same list.

This message was edited Aug 26, 2011 11:35 AM

Burien, WA(Zone 7b)

Peacock spiraea has really neat foliage. Greenish blue with red shimmer on the new growth and a feathery serrated edge.
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/324209/

There are a few variegated weigelas, they've got pretty leaves. Graceful weeping branches if let go naturally or can be shaped pretty easy. An abundance of flowers in late spring.

Callicarpas give good fall interest with their purple berries. The profusion cultivar has a bronze cast to their leaf. Can get pretty big though.

Lilacs, they smell magnificent and the are so many to choose from with sizes and colors.

If you do want something large, a golden chain tree/gigantic shrub. Laburnum anagyroides

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

My neighbors weigelas hangs over our property on the other side of our yard. It is gorgeous!

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Definitely pay attention to their mature size -- I have been working on a shrub border on and off for years, and have found many were planted too closely (a common problem I have). I have not particularly planned for this - just pick up inexpensive shrubs whenever I go to a nursery and pop it in. Lose many to my husband's weedwacking, and more to insufficient water the first year (this border is not handy to any hose so they are pretty much on their own). Here it is in the fall, my favorite time. Now that we have no animals, I plan to add to it inside the field as well, kind of randomly, to break up the straight line look of it. This borders our driveway and is usually very weedy and unkempt (much like the photo). This spring I underplanted most of the shrubs with vinca, hoping that will fill in and perhaps crowd out some of the weeds. I also go back and forth with letting each shrub be as tall as they want to, or pruning them to a similar height.

Thumbnail by bonehead
Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

When planting the shrubs what is the rule? For example, the mock orange, choisya ternata, grows to 8 ft + wide.Do I plant the next shrub 4 ft from the center of the choisya ternata? And 4 ft from the cyclone fence that borders our back yard?

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

I planted most of my shrubs about 4-5' apart and that was too close. Some will intermingle with one another nicely, but others are smothered by their more robust neighbors. If I did mine over again, I would split the difference less about a foot (to allow some overlap). I think 6-7' would work for most shrubs (unless you are planting some that are columnar, then you would adjust accordingly). Four feet from your fence should work. I encourage you to underplant with some sort of groundcover at the early stage so it can get established as the shrubs mature. Whatever works for your area/exposure. I have applied thick mulch to my border every spring, but my field grass is relentless and pops through everything. Thought about a weed barrier, but I've never had the ground down to bare dirt so don't think that would work without a whole lot of manpower.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Planting 4-5 ft apart seems too general. I am thinking if I plant a shrub that matures to 8ft + wide next to a plant that matures to 6-7 ft wide I should plant the 2nd shrub closer to 7 ft. from the 1st shrub.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Yes, but Anastatia, that's only if you want them all smack up against each other. Just because they grow to X feet wide doesn't mean they don't need a little more space & light than that. Give them a little room to shine or you just have a crowded muddle -- and a lot of deadwood.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

thank you summerkid, but are you suggesting I plant further apart then 7 ft? (using the example I gave)

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Yes. For instance, back to my love affair with ninebarks. They tend to cascade, like your bridal wreath. (And get bigger than the tags say.) So they look best if there is a little room between them & their neighbors. If interspersed with columnar plants, that's less of an issue.

Of course, this is all rank opinion & shrubs can always be pruned to keep them the size you want.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

thank you, this is so helpful. do you have pix of your ninebark(s)?

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

I don't have any mature ones here & poor pix of the ones back in Illinois. But I think I got a couple of shots of kosk's yesterday ... going to look for camera

Lakewood, WA(Zone 8a)

Summerkid, being the artist she is, likely has the eye for the finished product that may be several years down the road. If only I were that disciplined. I always plant too close together and then weed things out, letting those that obviously love the spot take it over and discarding or transplanting the others. Or, I let the rodents decide. Lately that has worked best.
In terms of rules, I generally pay little attention to them, preferring to do what I think looks good. I used to go with the 'tall in the back, then medium, then small in the front' rule, but then I got bored with that. Plus I stared seeing the benefits of a more multi-dimensional look with a few taller 'see through ' plants placed closer to the front. I like it. But my gardens do not look very orderly.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

I am determined not to plant too close. I am looking @ my back yard for E-Z maintenance, esp. down the road when I am 73+ (now 63). Thanks Pd for the advice. I do not have an eye or imagination for the finished project & must rely on photo's and talent from those who do have the eye/imagination. I really like the looks of the ninebark Coppertina but looking for a photo of one in a garden; I have seen close-ups only.

Langley, WA(Zone 7b)

If you plant farther apart, you can always fill in later. Are you going for a hedgerow look? If so, then planting the closer spacing is recommended.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

No no, definitely a more casual border. I think I will add a flowering quince to my collection. Also considering a Coppertina ninebark. We rented a sod cutter the other day and extended the garden area about 4 ft on the site where I will be planting this assorted shrub border. Actually, we took the sod cutter around the entire perimeter so we have 18+ inches min. of extended garden space to keep from getting banged by the shrubbery when we mow the lawn. I will soon be searching for a discussion on edging.

Langley, WA(Zone 7b)

How easy was that sod cutter to use? Could I use it to go around my edges that keep encroaching on the flower beds?

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

We rented the larger 18 in. blade. The guy @ the rental place said that size is easier to use, balance wise. The other size is 12 in. blade. There is no control re: the width of the cut. My husband was the primary operator. I did it for a small part of the yard. I recommend it. Highly efficient. It cut down maybe 1 1/2 - 2 in.? It can be adjusted a bit.The machine is about 300 lbs. $60 for 4 hrs. and we returned it before 3 hrs. and they adjusted it to $50. I love machines working for me! I have heard or read there is a machine that will cut a v-shaped edge for a border between sod & garden but not sure there really is such a dream machine. Next on the list to rent, if there is such a thing.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Anastatia - let us know if you do find such a machine. That has been my most successful edging, a simple trench. Fairly labor intensive, although I usually don't mind as I tackle it early in the spring when I'm fresh and vigorous. This past spring I actually never got around to it (I was focused on a separate project) and the previous year's edge held fairly well.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

I will let you know. I watched a video re: digging a victorian style edge and the guy said there was a machine if you had enough garden to justify the expense. Here is the last part of an article re: same subj.
"You have made a V shaped trench. Remove any loose earth that might be in the trench and continue around the garden. You can rent a machine that will do the same thing and require much less energy from you and it will take much less time as well."
From this I assume the author is not referring to the standard electric lawn edging tool many of us own. Stay tuned.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

http://eztrench.com/bedscapers-be300.html

http://www.sunbeltrentals.com/equipment/category.aspx?id=s527

HERE ARE 2 LINKS RE: MACHINE TO DIG OUT GARDEN EDGE. THE 2ND LINK RE: RENTAL I WILL CALL AROUND IN A FEW DAYS.

MORE INFO. SOON.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Those look some some serious machines. I may stick with my trenching shovel - looks like I'd likely wreck my wrists with one of those guys. Sometimes slow and steady is the answer. But... let me know if you do try one out.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Slow n' steady is great but I am part jack-rabbit. Fast start and quick burn out so I need the immediate result a machine produces.


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