Conifer next to pool - narrow.

pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)March 21, 2014

I am trying to find a couple of conifers that would be a good fit in the area below (and will provide privacy in the future). This area is in the back corner of our backyard and next to our pool. It is approximately 18' from the corner of our lot to the pool, 14' from the lot on the side to the pool and 10' from the back of the lot to the pool.

Layout of backyard - Conifers will be placed in area designated as "Skyrocket Junipers" (they will be moved).

Below is a list of recommendations I received:
* Picea glauca 'Pendula'
* Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire'
* Sciadopitys verticillata 'Joe Kozey'
* Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Jubilee'
* Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy' (broadleaf evergreen)
* Buxus sempervirens 'Dee Runk' (broadleaf evergreen)
* Picea pungens 'The Blues'
* Picea omorika 'Pendula Bruns'
* Picea abies 'Gold Drift'
* Picea engelmannii 'Bush's Lace'
* Picea orientalis 'Skylands' (Larger)

I really, really like the Picea orientalis 'Skylands' but am afraid it will be too big. Any suggestions?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i stand by my recommendation of de groots ... or the same plant under any other name ... but you must insure single leader plants... or make whatever you buy such ...

there is a 60 foot skyland at hidden lakes in tipton MI .. 15 to 20 feet wide ..

baxus ... ??? ... boxwood ... can be somewhat variable in z5 ... insure anything you try that is fastigate... upright.. can handle snow load... which can be a problem with plants that hold there leaves ... but my drgroots have never had a problem..not even ice storm ...

Sciadopitys ... i cant grow them in my z5.. due east of you 200 miles or so.. adrian mi ...

you ought to plant some morning glory on your pool deck posts ... it might cover it all by late summer ... clematis for a perennial ...

dont forget.. you want plants .. but you will also need to maintain a walkway/access around the pool ...


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:49AM
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wannabeGardnr(7 Maryland)

Ken, won't DeGroot's Spire be too narrow for coverage?
If the corner to the pool is really 18', and you don't need the space in between, you could fit a Skylands. A 30 year old specimen near me is about 13 to 15 feet wide at the base, and maybe 25 feet tall. After 30 years if both the tree and pool are still there, I am sure you could gently trim the tree at the base.

If it were me, I would mix it up. For example, Skylands in the corner, the two Picea glauca 'Pendula' to the left, not next to each other along the fence, but one pushed in front by two feet. Then maybe 3 Degroot's Spire on the other side of the Skylands. Next to those 3 you could do a weeper like Picea pungens 'The Blues' that you can train up, and then let it come back down. You would need some temporary measure to block the hole next to the Skylands, to allow for its mature size. There are some super tall ornamental grasses, which you can kill with RoundUp/glyphosate after a few years as needed. Or you can plug the hole with some cheap fast growing big box store conifer. Probably something columnar and narrow will be a better fit than the Skylands, which is pyramidal (wider at the base, and gets wider with age.) There are other pyramidal selections of Picea abies and Picea pungens.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:35AM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

Thanks to both to you. To be honest, I'm just not a big fan of the juniper/arborvitae type conifers. If that's my only option then I'll plant them but ideally I like a more "christmas tree" look. It is definitely 18' from corner to pool (I measured with a tape measure last night). I do need a few feet around the pool though to be able to do maintenance etc. To be honest I highly doubt we'll be at this house in even 20 years. Our plan now is to build a ranch (we have a two story now) once our kids our out of school (that would be about 15 years from now).

By the way, we are putting lattice up around the pool deck this Spring.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:49PM
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wannabeGardnr(7 Maryland)

Then go with something that grows at a medium-fast rate, and things that you like. Columnar shape will give you more even coverage. Cones will take more space at the bottom and leave gaps higher up. You can get around that by varying planting depth. Placing one in front of the other, partly, so there is some overlap, if you are trying to get privacy.
Picea glauca 'Pendula' is a narrow column. I love that tree. Reminds me of a tiered wedding cake.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 1:34PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Don't plant anything with small spent parts that could end up in the pool, once the planting is tall enough. Around pools you want instead to plant kinds with big leaves etc. that are easy to deal with. Yes, in cold climates the selection of these can be quite limited but that does not cancel the fact that small plant parts falling into swimming pools and getting into filters is undesirable.

Another factor to consider is that arborvitaes or spruces etc. are going to take many years to reach much height and fill in - how long do you want to wait for your privacy, wind reduction etc.? This may be yet another situation where a structural solution (fencing, arbor etc.) is the only one that is going to provide the desired combination.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 6:27PM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

Thanks! If I decide to re-work the entire back area from the "spruce" area (planted with winter-damaged fraser firs now), to the "Skyrocket Junipers" areas" (including the "area to question....viburnum will stay), what would be a good layout/species list? Just as a review, here is some background info:

1. The lots behind us are empty. The builder went out of business a number of years ago so we have no idea when they will be built on. Privacy will be a big issue once they are built on.

2. Our neighbors to the south are older (no kids), quiet and are seldom outside.

3. We like the "christmas tree" conifers. We're not big fans of the column shaped trees (although we know we'll probably need some) nor the "crazy shaped" trees (like the more traditional shaped. I do understand, though that column shaped conifers may be neccessay in a couple of areas.

4. I really like the Picea orientalis 'Skylands' and would love to be able to work it in somewhere. I especially like the light green color and shape.

5. We plan on moving in 15 to 20 years.

6. We live in zone 5b.

7. Most of our backyard has been planted in groups for visual effect (groups of river birch, groups of redbuds etc.).

8. There is approximately 18' from the pool to the corner, 14' from the fence on the south to the pool, and 10' from the back of the lot to the pool.

Thanks for your help and have a great Monday!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:35AM
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I would go for it. This tree belongs to a friend of mine. You may get tired of the pool before looking at the tree. This took a long time to get this size.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 1:23PM
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I agree, Skylands is one of my favorite conifers and a must have for every yard. It's very slow growing and generally narrow... I'd place it in the corner where you have the '18 ft.

Be aware that you will need to purchase shade cloth and protect it from full sun for the first 2 years, otherwise it will burn. Dave did a great Tutorial on hold to build one. Check it out.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 1:42PM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

Thanks to both of you.

1. So Skylands in the corner and a row of DeGroot's Spire along the back between the pool and fence?

2. Just one Skylands in the corner? Anything else? With it?

3. What should I replace the faser firs with?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 2:13PM
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I was thinking a skyland in the CENTER of the avaiable space. 18'x14'x10', since you obviously like the tree so many do.
If you go with a skyland, what SC77 above is telling you is no joke...please do your homework first and save some heartache.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:55AM
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wannabeGardnr(7 Maryland)

Pmsmith, I responded to your email. Don't know how gardenweb emails work and if you got the responses.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:24PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

If a skylands of mine ever got too big I would move my house. That is one good looking tree.

That said it is a bit more difficult to grow when young. If money permits would you all think planting three and expecting one to grow would be appropriate? Then if two make it to six foot you have a good problem!

On a similar note, what is the larges metasequoia "Ogon" in existence? Or the new and improved Ogon for that matter?

It is the only think I know as striking as Skylands and seems easier to grow in StL at least.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 12:14PM
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Skylands is one of my favorites... but you must be able to grow it in your location. I had mine under the shade cloth for 2 years. In the 3rd year I took half the shade cloth away to introduce it to full sun. In the 4th year the entire shade cloth went away. This year I'll be taking it out of the ground and tossing it into the compost bin. Perhaps the more experienced could grow it better... covering it up when it gets to much sun... giving it a good watering even when fully established, etc. But my life is to busy to "baby sit" one of the conifers each year.

Here in Ohio the only yellow conifer I can grow is chamaecyparis... most pines and spruces burn to a crisp.

I'm just saying that I don't think this tree is for the beginner... frankly I would rather look at a nice unique spring flushing Picea pungens than a Skylands that you have to keep a shade cloth around every summer.... even when it gets larger more than likely.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 12:42PM
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