non-prickly shrubs?

nadine33April 15, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I'm planning my plantings for the front of my house. I've talked with a landscape designer who gave me some ideas about shrubbery, but when I went to the local nursery to check out some of the shrubs some of them seemed rather prickly to me. Being that DH will have to hang X-mas lights and "walk-through" this area, and we have small kids that get a little over zealous when it's watering time I'm looking for non-prickly/sharp choices for shrubs. I initially was planning on 2 alberta spruces, one on each side of our front steps, but they are very prickly. I'm assuming the arborvitae is the next best choice for that. Designer also suggested some Japanese holly, but some of those had sharp edges too. I believe the plan was for the alberta spruce, 2 kids of holly, a rhododendren, and a juniper. Can anyone guide me towards similar types of shrubs but with less prickle-factor? (I didn't ask him for non-prickly ideas as I didn't relaize it at the time, I'm sure he can make some suggestions too, but I figured I'd have even better luck here!)

Thanks!

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sedum37(Z5 MA)

I am wondering if the designer picked those ones since they may be less bothered by foraging deer? Although we do have trouble with deer eating Rhododendrens and Hollys. For these we cover in winter with deer fencing (netting around the plantings) or they'll be twigs by the end of winter. It may be worthwhile to check out some native plants offered by New England Wildflower Society and look for deer resistent ones if you have deer in your area. We are taking out arborvitae, yews, rhododendrens in our gardens due to the damage caused each year. The Alberta Spruce is nice because it is slow growing, hardy and isn't bothered by the deer at all.

Here is a link that might be useful: NEWFS Web Site

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:19PM
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nadine33

nope...no deer near us. Our property is fully fenced in and in a busier section of town.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:45PM
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barefootinct(6a)

Please avoid the dwarf alberta spruce. I don't understand its popularity in recent years. It seems everyone is putting them to frame their front doors and, oh my gosh, to me they have no elegance at all, no grace, no beauty. sigh.

On the other hand, there are many lovely japanese hollies that are not at all prickly. We've hung Xmas lights on ours for years. I've had three different varieties and love them all. They are glossy and lovely. Best of all, if you have the berry-bearing ones (male? female?), the birds love them!

I personally like juniper but that is high in the prickly factor. Rhodies are about as far from prickly as you can get. Rhodies, japanese holly, mountain laurel, azaleas, and japanese pieris are all evergreen non-conifer shrubs that work well as foundation plants and are not prickly in the least. I'm sure there are several conifers as well.

Have fun shopping for them. I'd love to be able to redo my entire foundation planting!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 2:30PM
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paigect(z6a CT)

I second the Japanese hollies (Ilex crenata). I have 'Steeds' and 'Compacta' and they are both doing great, and no pricklies. They can also tolerate the part shade conditions that most foundation plants have to live with. I know I am going to jinx myself with this, but they are the easiest evergreen I have tried to grow - - no winterburn is really the best part. Plus, they are very attractive! They look great with something light and airy, like Moonbeam coreopsis, in front of them.

'Steeds' would make a very nice replacement for the Alberta spruces flanking the door. I agree with dtd - - I just don't like the Alberta spruces. In my opinion, they are too puffy or something. And I have two of them (given to me for free), but my long term plan is to replace mine with Japanese hollies.

If you are thinking about Chamaecyparis (sp?) pisifera, since they are so soft to the touch, think twice before using them as foundations plants. All three of mine were crushed into a very unpleasant form by winter snow within two years of planting. Gorgeous, but useless, in my opinion.

Inkberry holly is also softer to the touch, so you might also consider that.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:17PM
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paigect(z6a CT)

Also, look at yews - - great foundation plants, very very soft.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 5:46PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Since you have kids, make sure that either you get non-fruiting ones or teach the young ones that the pretty red berries on the yews are toxic. Otherwise, yes they are great, hardy shrubs since you don't have deer.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 8:57PM
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