Recs for tall but narrow accent shurbs?

frangione1(z7b)September 24, 2008

I am looking for a tall and narrow shrub to place on either side of the steps leading up to the front door of the house. We had hired a landscape designer and she put plum yews (fastigiata) in the plan. I think they are nice, but I am bothered by their slow growth (do they really just grow 3-4 inches a year?), and the largest I can find locally are just 2 feet tall.

I am considering:

sky pencil holly

curlyleaf ligustrym

green spire euonymous

Any thoughts on these and any other suggestions?

Some additional info:

other foundation plants will be indian hawthorn (3-4 ft tall). Exposure is east/southeast, so it gets a good 6 hours of sun and some late afternoon shade. One side of the steps is constrained by the steps, foundation, sidewalk and driveway, so the space is 4x6 feet. So I obviously may have to do some pruning.

I am considering conifers, too, so I also posted a similar question in the conifers forum.

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transplanted2scin07(7b upstate SC)

Greetings, Frangione1
My first question is: Are you absolutely sure you want to be chained to pruning shears for the remainder of your residence at this home? Even if you plant columnar type plants (these often have "fastigiata" as part of the latin name), you will have to be vigilant about keeping it clipped. Perhaps if you post a photo of the area, we can offer alternate solutions.
If a columnar plant is definitely what you want, many evergreens can be found that have that columnar habit or are amenable to constant pruning to achieve the look. Three that come to mind are Taxus baccata ÂFastigiataÂ, Juniperus "Skyrocket", and Thuja occidentalis 'Fastigiata'. All will take your east/souteast exposure. If you paste these latin names into Google Images, you can see what they look like.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 3:07PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Another one, which MIGHT be too tall, is Thuja 'de Groot's Spire' (arborvitae), which can get to 12', but will stay narrower than 2', from all I can tell.

I have seen the fastigate Japanese Plum Yews grow up to 6" or more, in the pot in the nursery - granted they are well and frequently feed.

My feeling about the 'Sky Pencils', personal prejudice here, is that they tend to look a bit spindly in top as they grow, not a nice thick column.

Both the ligustrum and the euonymus are good, albeit possibly slower than wanted also.

If the more formallook is right, and you are willing to get out the scissors several times a year, the spiral trained junipers can look stunning.

Another possibility, which is amenable to heavy pruning, is an Irish yew, but it depends on your zone - they don't like too much summer heat.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 3:19PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

frangione..I have all three of your selections in my yard.
The curly leaf ligustrum is considerably fatter than the other two but its dark,dense growth is very attractive and you can selectively prune it.
It does take a few years to adapt to being transplanted but once it's satisfied with the spot,the sun and the moisture it is absolutely carefree.

The skypencil holly is like an exclamation point. It's hard to combine with other shrubs. It's color matches most other nearby shrubs. I have one by the front door that's thriving in an elevated,irrigated bed and I'm not happy with it because it just doesn't blend with most other shrubs.
The greenspire euonymous I also have in a back yard border and also in pots waiting to be planted. They've been in those pots for more than 5 years and that limits their growth but not their vigor.
Greenspire gets decimated by the deer.
If you have deer browsing your yard, choose something besides the greenspire. They, like the skypencil, grow like an exclamation point although their color is somewhat lighter than most foundation shrubs so they blend without disappearing.
They have occasionally gone completely dead looking,bleached out and drop all their leaves only to come back a few months with new,normal growth.

I'd go for the curly leaf if I were you. Just know you should prune it rather than clip it when you want a different,thinner shape.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 11:21PM
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Thanks for the tips.
I don't mind doing some pruning, but I don't want to be constantly pruning. I don't want something supper tall, just something different that will stand out from the other shrubs. I was thinking something no more than 8 feet tall. Anything taller might look strange with the 3-4 foot indian hawthorne. I posted a similar question in the conifers forum. Here is a picture of the front of the house (note the old shrubs are all being torn out, so the indian hawthornes are not there yet).

Dottie, how tall are your culy leafs? I see variations as far a show tall they get. Some places say 4 feet, others say 6 feet.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:49PM
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transplanted2scin07(7b upstate SC)

Thanks for the photo! Placing the exact same shrub on either side if the door is formal. The front of your house is considered informal, in terms of balance, which lends itself to a more informal garden design.
You have an exciting opportunity to create a larger yet more intimate and inviting front door area by extending your garden area to the street side of the concrete walkway and wrapping it around to meet the garden area already in front of the windows. I would use a large speciman plant (like a small to medium flowering tree)at the outer corner of the new, extended bed, for height and shade, and add some colorful shrubs and perennials to the rest of this new area that compliment the color of the door.
To the right of the door, consider adding an upright trellis and planting a short growing vine that would not need constant pruning.
If there is room on the right side of the driveway, I would plant a large shade tree or a large, round-shaped conifer to add weight to that side of the property.
Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 2:27PM
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Curly leaf ligustrum can easily get above 8 feet.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 3:31PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

My curly leaf ligustrums were 3' tall when I planted them and maybe 15" wide 4 years ago.
Most of them are now 4-5 feet tall with dense growth and shiny curly leaves. They are between 20" to 30" wide but some I've pruned to a more column shape.
What I like is they are very leafy.
The selective pruning I described rather than clipping is because they grow from the bottom up rather than like a tree with a trunk and branches.

I think you'll be very satisfied with the color,growth habit and shiny dark leaves of the curlyleaf ligustrum.
It's a good stand alone shrub or you can intersperce it with a softer shrub to make an interesting hedge.(just don't mix with loropetalum that constantly need pruning)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:17AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I have an 8' curlyleaf and it does need at least yearly pruning. While I do like it, even if it is a privet, I do think it needs plenty of room. Not for the front of the house, jmo.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 10:14AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

frangione, looking at the photo of your home, I can't tell where the front entry light(s) are located. Beside or over the front door?
Something that gets 8' tall could block the light unless you don't mind yearly trimming job.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 9:03PM
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