Need advice for the front yard landscape

carol12345May 16, 2008

Hi everyone,

I very much enjoy this forum and kindly would like to ask you for advice.

I decided to re-landscape my front yard, especially around the driveway. A year ago I planted 5 hollies (holly compacta) and now I would like to add some color/foliage along the driveway.

I have 18ft along the sides of the driveway. I thought about nandina (2 on each side), but I'm afraid they will get out of control and block the front yard.

The other option I considered were rose shrubs (groundcover roses).

Ideally I'd like something that would be:

- max 5ft tall

- max 3ft wide

- evergreen

- drought and clay soil tolerant

- disease-resistant

Any advice? Or am I asking too much?

Thank you!

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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Soil you give (clay), but what about the amount of sun the area gets?

And I know you say drought tolerant, but you ARE aware that even drought tolerantant plants need watering for the first year or two? It SHOULD be said as "drought tolerant AFTER they are established" - you need to get them established first, unless you plant seeds, and even they need some water. Sorry if I am preaching to the choir, but I have known people to plant something, complain that it died, and say, "no, I didn't water it, it's drought-tolerant, isn't it?", when you ask about watering practices.

That said, in no particular order, and some needing more sun or shade than others - KnockOut roses; dwarf Indian Hawthorn; Caryopteris, both the green and yellow leaved; Spireas; Creeping Japanese Plum yew or the upright with heading back (needs more shade); 'Little Honey' Oakleaf Hydrangea (part shade); Rosemary; Lavenders (need GOOD drainage); Yuccas; selected Cotoneasters; Oleander; Lantanas; Smoke tree, either a green-leafed one or the red/purple or the new light-green one (would need heading back every spring); or one of the smaller Crape myrtles.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:52PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Knockouts would you give you color for about 6-9 months of the year. They would need hard pruning each spring, however, to keep them the size you want. They are beautiful underplanted with either nepeta Walkers Low or May Night salvias.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:04PM
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I second the dwarf hawthorns. They are on my short list to get some for myself. I love their foliage and their mounding form.

Oleander is an amazing and beautiful shrub, but they are also extremely poisonous. I don't know if you have to be concerned with that, but I thought I'd just put it out there. Lantana is poisonous too, and it isn't evergreen, but is clearly one of my favorite plants because they are carefree, extremely drought-tolerant and the butterflies just love them. I have a good friend with a child with special needs, and now I am always conscious as to the toxicity of a plant before I put it in the ground.

Also, I love Mahonia Aquifolium, or "Oregon Grape Holly". They are evergreen, have similiar foliage to the hollies, so they'd blend nicely, but they have yellow flowers in spring, and berries in fall. Also, the foliage turns purple/orange in fall. They're slow growing, but will get pretty tall at maturity. They like sun or shade, deer resistant and drought tolerant. There is another Mahonia, Leatherleaf Mahonia, or Mahonia Bealei, but it's supposed to be invasive in our area. Please don't confuse the two.

Also, I don't know how drought-tolerant it is, but IMHO, you can't beat Pieris Japonica for thier foliage, however, I've been told they're more of an "accent" plant, instead of a hedge shrub, so you may want to consider that. But, they are carefree, I've never had any problems with disease, or deer. Also, I am totally in love with Camellias, so I'd have to vote for them as well. I know they get very big, but since there are so many varieties, I'm sure there has to be one that comes in a smaller form.

Gardenias do well in either sun or shade, but I think they prefer sun. The deer have never looked at them sideways, and for the first year I owned my house, I never watered them once and they came through the experience without a problem. When I found out they were Gardenias, I watered and fed them, and they bloomed like crazy for me the next season. I understand that they can have a problem with pests, whiteflies???, but I haven't had any problems, yet, knock on wood.

Perhaps, if you let us know more about the sun/shade aspect, we can give you better answers.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 4:08PM
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just a brief comment

A PHORMIUM is evergreen..but they stay manageable to your SUN a 4-season beauty I am partial to the red ones myself

also I have seen some nice NANDINA in dwarf sizes that stay very manageable, they are so care free... I have seen some that were done as a neat hedge that was fence like...dwarfes that got only 3 feet tal and were planted 24-36"? apart and were like a living fence....

I am new to Carolina gardening so take anything I say with a grain of salt : )

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 8:14PM
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Hi all,

Thank you very much for your feedback, it's really helpful.

I'm aware I'd need to water all plants (as ofter as water restrictions allow us) for the first one-two years, until the plants/shrubs will establish and then they will hopefully become "drought tolerant".

Regarding the sun, I apologize for forgetting this important detail earlier:

Front yard: afternoon sun (about 6-7 hrs)
Patio: morning  early afternoon sun (also around 7hrs).

I like the idea of dwarf Indian Hawthorn, Nandina and Camellias. Does anybody have experience with combination of boxwood and knockout rose, please? This would be combination for the driveway sides.

Thank you once again for your help, I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 11:21PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Some of the plants suggested won't take only afternoon sun - I think I would put camellias, gardenias, hydrangeas and the plum yews in that grouping. They would be happy around the patio. Anything that takes full sun will be happy with 6 hours or more, but some would find the afternoon-only sun too hot.

Phormium - New Zealand Flax - is a good, spikey, but softly so, accent plant, coming in green, shades of bronze and with cream and red stripes. It may be border-line hardy for you - it will freeze below 20F - but in a big pot as an accent that then lives inside or in the garage for the winter, it is a thought.

I have seen boxwood and other roses combined, so see no reason why the KO roses shouldn't work.

I would add Itea 'Little Henry' or 'Henry's Garnet' to my list, as well as Clethra 'Sixteen Candles'. Be aware that both of these species can sucker, but the suckers are easily removed - either toss them or pot them up to plant elsewhere or give away. Another thought, although not a shrub, and not there in the winter, is one of the smaller Canna lilies. With mulching, they over-winter for me, and should for you - they also will spread, but are easily enough dealt with.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 8:14AM
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Vitex fit the bill well here too...not necessarily the neatest plant, but interesting and attracts butterflies and hummers with the fragrance. You can keep this trimmed and shrubby like you want. A holly-leaf osmanthus is also a good choice to pair with gardenias--blooms earlier and later (spring/fall for many varieties), and so complements the summer-blooming gardenia. Stick a winter honeysuckle in the mix and you've got almost year-round fragrance on the patio!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 10:23AM
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