Shrub Ideas

ejm135(6b)November 29, 2012

Hello all,

My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a property where the landscaping could use some work - there are two areas that I'm looking to put in some shrubs and or plants. Oklahoma is not my native state, so I'm slowly learning about what works well here! For both of these areas I'm hoping to find things that are low maintenance and don't have to be replanted every year (I'd rather spend my maintenance time in the veggie garden!). So here are the details:

The south side of the house - there's currently nothing there now and no shade to speak of. It's a one story house with windows about 3-4 feet off the ground.

The west side of the house against a concrete porch that's about 1 1/2 feet above ground level. This area is very heavily shaded by a couple big oak trees. This is the area I'm having the most trouble with - don't know if I can get anything to grow there and might just try to do something interesting with rocks!

Any ideas would be so appreciated! This year was my first with a veggie garden in Oklahoma and I learned so much from this forum (mostly lurking) - there are so many knowledgeable and obviously talented people here that are so generous with information. Gleaning from all your knowledge, my first year went really well (and continues to go well...) and I'm making expansion plans for next year - can completely see how gardening can become an addiction!

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Can you answer a few quick questions that will help us recommend the right plants?

What kind of soil do you have? Heavy clay? Loamy clay? Almost pure sand? Sandy loam? Caliche clay? Some combination of the above?

Also, do you know if your soil tends to be more alkaline or more acidic, or maybe your soil pH is near neutral?

Do you know what your area's average rainfall is? There are specific kinds of shrubs we'd recommend for someone in northeastern OK who gets, let's say 50-70", of rain in an average to very wet year but we'd recommend entirely different shrubs we'd if you're in northwestern OK and average 15" of rain a year.

Finally, in the areas where you have lawn grass, what kind of grass do you have?


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Our soil runs on the sandy side - there's doesn't seem to be much clay in it and from the at-home test I did (probably not the most accurate), the pH was fairly neutral. Getting the soil properly analyzed is on my to-do list but hasn't happened yet. The average rainfall in our area is around 50"/year if I remember correctly.

I really don't know what kind of grass the lawn is - reclaimed pasture/weeds? It doesn't appear as if the lawn area was ever actually seeded for a particular type of grass, more that the house and yard were carved out of a pasture. It's pretty far out in the country - Tahlequah area if that helps.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Heavy shade areas could have hydrangeas and azaleas. I would look at oak leaf hydrangea and the newer hydrangeas that bloom on new wood (endless summer types). You should have a lot more moisture than the rest of us, so that is helpful. However, if you lose those trees, you will need to move those plants. You can use some annuals for color too if you want. Impatiens, sweet potato vine.

Do you need/want to plant some trees on the south side? You might want to take that into account. There are several ornamental type trees. Crape Myrtles are very popular and I like them for the late summer color. I also like Vitex (chaste tree). Both of those require a little bit of maintenance in the spring, but not tons.

Knock out roses are pretty easy and shouldn't give you a lot of trouble.

Stay away from red tip photinas too close to your house. They look so cute when they are small, but they are monster sized when they grow up!


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Two words, Go Native! You are so lucky to be in a beautiful area with many attractive deep shade tolerant shrubs native to your area. Deciding what to plant from what is already adapted to your bit of earth leads to a journey of discovery that transcends mere gardening!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

My soil is the opposite of yours, so I don't know if I can come up with good recommendations for soil so different from mine.

I always suggest hollies because they come in many different types and sizes. Most of them have great disease tolerance and also tolerate drought once established. I like the suggestion of Oakleaf hydrangeas as they even have good fall color. The native Possumhaw holly has small leaves and lovely berries on the female plants, but is deciduous and loses its leaves in late fall or early winter. Ours have survived even in years when rainfall was as low as 18", though our average annual rainfall is 38". They've also survived in wet years in clay soil when we had 45-52" of rain. Another favorite native shrub that is abundant on our property is American Beautyberry, which has violet-colored berries.

I'm going to link the website of the Tulsa Master Gardeners so you can see some of their recommendations for your part of the state.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tulsa Master Gardeners Website Shrubs/Trees

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 7:08PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I would make room for some ornamental grass some kind of Miscanthus one or two clumps on a sunny side.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 9:17PM
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