What should I replace these boxwoods with?

katy_bug(z8a GA)September 8, 2011

We moved into this house 5 years ago and are just now getting around to the front yard. The boxwoods to the left of the door are doing good, though they need a trim, but the ones to the right have never looked good and now a few bushes died leaving dead spots. I am thinking of removing just this area, because I can't afford to replace all of them and turning this into the focal point for now. Since the house isn't symmetrical, I don't think it will look too weird.

What can we plant here that is evergreen and already has some height but won't break the bank? I was thinking some dwarf yews maybe?

Or, feel free to suggest an complete design!

The house from the street.

Close up of the affected area

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Dear katy,

First I like the idea of yews. In fact when creating hedges I rather like yews over boxwoods.

Second, it's nice to do a mix plant hedge. Creates a kind of tapestry with boxwood, yews, even hollies. Makes things interesting and in fact exciting.

Third. I noticed there are boxwood hedges on both sides of the house so in effect, there is some kind of symmetry already happening. You could do as you planned to remove just the hedges on the front area by the window.

What I am concerned with though is that huge boxwood flanking one side of your entrance. If anything, that will make things unbalanced. Either you plant another huge boxwood on the other side to create that symmetry or you need to remove this rather huge and healthy shrub and replace it with a yew. You do need to trim that boxwood hedge to make it more narrow. You can consider a kind of Japanese boxwood called skypencil a skinny type of boxwood.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:06PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

ianna - I think Sky Pencil is an Ilex crenata cultivar, not a box.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:33PM
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katy_bug(z8a GA)

ianna - I totally get what you are saying. I am open to anything - we have literally not done anything to the yard so I have no plan in mind. I don't like boxwoods in general but it would be too expensive for me at this point to replace all of them at one time. I also just can't take looking at that sickly bunch in front of the window. My big plan is to make the house and yard more cottage-like over time.

You are right, that big boxwood is a monster and does make things look unbalanced. It is actually part of the hedge. I tried to sketch it out below. It needs to either go or be made smaller. I have even thought of training a flowering vine go up the brick column on the porch.

Thanks for the suggestions. I get so much inspiration from you guys. I can't do a complete overhaul, but I gotta start somewhere! What else do you think?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 2:58PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I don't seem many yew hedges here, I'm wondering if they do OK as a hedge? I see them as the lower growing, part-sun ground-coverish plants and occasionally as a specimen but not so much as a hedge. I'm in Atlanta and I wonder if that exposure is similar to mine and just bakes in the summer with reflective heat off of the house?

They aren't everyone's cup of tea but I love abelias. If you get some shade there, from the house, there are also shorter growing camellias.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:38PM
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katy_bug(z8a GA)

There is absolutely zero shade in this spot. It bakes in the sun until about 4pm. Yes GGG, I am over in Athens so our zones are quite similar.

I don't really want to replace the boxwoods with a hedge. I was thinking more free-form cottage bed . . . but, I do want some evergreen foundation plants so it doesn't look completely bare in the middle of winter.

Also - I spend some time studying the front and I am thinking of making the hedge on the left just a straight line and cut down the boxwoods that come up next to the porch and just getting rid of that monster bush instead of just cutting it back.

When is it okay to trim (not cut back) boxwoods?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 7:14AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

How about a low evergreen "hedge" that comes out around a bed so that you have the appearance of structure from the front of the house. When you enter in the door in the winter, it will be bare "inside" the hedge though.
Might I suggest rosemary with that exposure? It can be easily trimmed, and grows in very hot places. Thyme after Thyme may have some other suggestions of good plants too. You could spend some $ on the "hedging" and then inside you could plant a wintersown garden easily. That gives you an inexpensive cottage look. I can even send you seeds if you'd like!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 6:24PM
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katy_bug(z8a GA)

I love the idea of defining the front of the bed! I actually have access to a ton of monkey grass. What if I outlined the ft of the bed on both sides with monkey grass to give it some definition. Then I also love the idea of planting a sky pencil holly on either side of the front porch and then add some rosemary bushes for interest. For now I can plant pansies, but I want this to develop into a perennial garden over time. Here is the new sketch:

orange - sky pencil
red - rosemary
blue - monkey grass

Oh and wintersowing . . . I have never heard of that. Now I am in love! I would love a list of seeds that do well for you over in the Atlanta area.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 1:17PM
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katy_bug(z8a GA)

okay, let me just say that GGG has changed my life by introducing me to wintersowing.

I just spent the last hour on the wintersowing forum and my garden will never be the same.

Particularly inspirational is this thread:
Wintersowing a cottage garden

Which lead me to this blog:
Seventh Street Cottage

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 2:27PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

You discovered Tom's blog just as he's ending it. It's been one of my favorites.

I have a lot of monkey grass, but don't really care for the way it looks in full sun. I find it better suited to shady areas. Maybe in your zone it would be different.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 5:36PM
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Hi coming back late once again.. Thank you Flora for the correction. I don't know why I thought I mixed up a sky pencil with boxwood. Anyway the point is a narrower shrub or perhaps a topiary would better suit the front.

Katy your garden bed design is great. I like that you decided to expand the bed and the idea of using ornamental grasses. Grasses even look great in winter. It is a hot spot as you said before and so even before you begin adding plants, try to fix the soil Add as much compost as you can so this area can retain moisture as well as improve the nutrients in this area. When choosing your plants try to id what can withstand instense heat. I would suggest lavenders for example and I think you can add rosemary. I wonder if rosemary can be a perennial in your zone -- if so what a beautiful shrub it will make if not also a fragrant one.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 6:42PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I like more interesting foliage color. The grass, bushes, trees, are all the same color green. Something with bright yellow or lime green leaves or variegation would really perk things up.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:20PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Lorapetulum might be nice if they're hardy to zone 7.

Here is a link that might be useful: lorapetulum

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:59PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I am looking at the house, the style of the house, the style of the shrubs and frankly I don't think lorapetulum fits here. The landscaping that exists is the more manacured type, and lorapetulum isn't that style of plant. I agree that the monkey grass could get fried, it would need regular watering to keep up with the heat, but it can work if you keep it cut back once a year.
Color contrasts are a personal thing, and I know some people who love them, and others that dislike them. So Katy Bug, do you like colorful foliage? You have a wide variety of choices if you do. I like purples and lime greens, but some folks like a green or white variegation more and dislike the darker purple colors.
Personally on a home like yours I do like either some lime or some variegation. I designed a garden in the Byron, Georgia area that had pale pink crepes, pale pink flowering indian hawthorne, pale pink flowering oleanders and also some fairly plain dark green shrubs like Japanese box and pittosporum (the windows were low). Added in some variegated pittosporum and aztec grass and it ended up being a simple landscape to care for but quite eye catching. We also used pink hardy chrysanthemums in some places and kept the same color scheme on the back patio and pool plants in huge containers. The home was a dark brick like yours.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 11:04PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I thought Katy mentioned wanting a cottage look.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 11:02AM
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katy_bug(z8a GA)

Thanks for all your input. I do really like a more carefree cottage garden look. The yard currently looks like a manicured blank slate because we have done nothing but maintain it for the past several years. I would love to fill in the beds with perennials that overflow like Tom's gardens and I am very excited about getting into the winter sowing side of things.

I also feel like the garden needs some structure and back bone so that it doesn't look like a ghost town in the winter after all the perennials have died back.

Now that I think about it, I agree that the monkey grass would fry in that spot. I may outline the beds with rocks. I love the idea of a white, lime, purple color palette and have never liked the idea of brash yellows and pinks against the red brick of the house. One of these days we are going to paint the brick a neutral color and have fun with the color of the shutters and the door. One day . . .

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 5:59PM
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