No trim landscape plants

cltroses(Scott in 7b NC)February 6, 2011

Hi. I love in Charlotte, NC (zone 7b). When I built my house, I used a landscape designer for a yard. I knew what roses I wanted, but took his advice on the other plants. Unfortunately, everything he recommended has become huge, and all I do is trim back "shrubs". Plants he said would stay small like Rosecreek Abelia are huge, and by the time I trim everything back it looks like squares and circles. Other plants I have that I want to get rid of are Viburnum Tinus Compacta (Spring bouquet), tall grasses, and some Boxwoods. All of these shrubs are either along my foundation or fence line. Can anyone recommend some plants that stay fairly small (no more than 3' high at maturity) and do not require annual shearing and trimming? I want a more natural looking landscape and not formal shrubs. Maybe like a Muli Pine or something like that? Any advice is appreciated!


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Well there are nandinas that are dwarf, even the bigger ones haven't gotten above 3 or 4 ft for me. There is lantana, cleyera, dwarf crape myrtles. There are the carpet roses. Then there are numerous perennials. Not to sound arrogant, but there are ways of pruning which would allow you to keep most of these shrubs a manageable size. If you "head back" prune (I think that's what it's called), you actually stimulate growth at all of those points where you cut. But if you make "thinning out" cuts that does not stimulate new growth. so you may want to make several thinning out cuts, and then various heights of heading back cuts, lower than you actually want the shrub becoz it's going to grow out from those. Remember, too, to find out about each type of shrub because if you prune at wrong time of year, you will be removing the blooms on some.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:43PM
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cltroses(Scott in 7b NC)

Thanks Laurie. Appreciate your time to respond, and you have given me some good ideas. Forgot all about dwarf Nandina, and that might work well.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:49PM
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Dwarf yaupon holly: Ilex vomitoria 'Nana' and 'Schillings dwarf' - and I think these look best when not pruned into balls; they have a relatively good shape on their own.

Also gardenia radicans makes a nice loosely shaped, small evergreen shrub.

I have the 'Elf' form of Mountain Laurel and it has stayed quite small all these years. Under 3 feet.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 11:16AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Well, I have a foundation planting of Indian Hawthornes (Rhaphiolepis) that don't just HAVE to be sheared, but I do shear them once in late spring each year to keep them in a more formal shape. I also have used alot of Encore Azaleas. They need virtually no maintenance if you choose the right size to begin with. They have several very low growers that have come out in the last few years. I have used two or three of them in my yard, as well as clients. Check out their website. You can search by size. (Note: these azaleas really like a half day of sun to do their best.) Korean Boxwood will stay within the boundaries that you give as well. Alot of people don't seem to realize what a large variety of sizes boxwoods come in. I add another amen to the dwarf Nandinas. The one called Harbour Belle is my personal favorite, but there are many.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 7:41PM
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I second Encore Azaleas, and will add a note of caution about the previously mentioned lantana, since there are TONS of varietals out there, some of which get huge (I have a couple that get 5-6' each summer at their peak)

I have gone from traditional azaleas, which I moved (these were thirty year old bushes that had WAY outgrown their space, and should never have been planted in front of windows IMO), and currently have supposedly low growing Loropetalums (beware here too, there are varieties that get HUGE) in their place, which DO require trimming, but not nearly as much, and seem to be much more tolerant about when to prune than picky azaleas.

I see they now have actual dwarf loropetalums, so you may want to consider those.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:59PM
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