newbie...please help! planting perennials on side of house

rainbowgraceMay 4, 2010

Hello all,

We have just purchased our first house and are excited to make the grounds surrounding our home beautiful and inviting. Our house is located on the corner, so the west side (and whole length of the house) sits on a street. I am looking for any recommendations you can give on beautiful perennials (bushes, shrubs, flowers?) that are rather low maintenance and good for first-time gardeners. It has been a while since I have kneeled in the bed with my mother! We live in Gadsden, Al (NE). Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Many blessings,


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It sounds like this gets a lot of sun and especially the hot afternoon sun? Daylilies are a tried and true perennial that can take those conditions. As for shrubs, some of the knockout roses available now are very showy and require very little care (e.g., no spraying).

Also consider supplementing the area with annuals (the kind you buy in six packs at Home Depot or Lowes). They are very showy and give you good color while you are thinking about what you want to do longterm.

In the south, always consider using mulch to help retain moisture and retard weed growth around your plants.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 7:33AM
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Congratulations on your new home, and also on wanting to enhance its yard.
Knockout roses are great--there is a double red that blooms a lot, and is very attractive. Please consider the color of your home when planting ( a pink house with orange flowers--doesn't work!).
You also might consider salvia greggii (Autumn sage) which comes in a range of colors from white to a deep raspberry. It needs to be trimmed twice a year, but blooms its head off!
Since you have such an expanse to plant, you may want to put in a few ornamental grasses to break up the shrubbiness, and mix the perennials, also. That way if one dies (not your fault, these things happen) you don't have a gap that has to be filled with exactly the same plant.
Let us know what you decide!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 7:40AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I would add the suggestion to use some evergreen (they can be flowering too) shrubs as an anchor for the perennials. That way you will have something nice to look at in the winter too. Some nice, low maintenance ones would include Indian Hawthorns, Korean boxwood, Dwarf Yaupon, Encore Azaleas and some of the dwarf nandinas like Harbor Belle or Firepower. You will want a few tall, vertical shrubs too, like Emerald Arborvitae or junipers. These are nice at corners or on either side of a doorway. Small trees can also be lovely at the corner of a house: Japanese Maples, Crape Myrtles, or Redbuds are choice.

Here are a few of my favorite plants that you could add to your considerations: Carefree Sunshine Rose (yellow), Oso Easy Paprika Rose (cantaloupe orange), Homerun Rose (red), daylilies, crinum lilies (bulbs).

No flower I know will give you the months of easy color that colored foliaged shrubs will. Japanese berberis are great in the south. I especially like Aurea (chartreusey yellow) and Rose Glow (purple, marbled with pink) is nice too. Purple Pixie Loropetalum has beautiful purple foliage and stays nice and low, and it's evergreen. There are dwarf crape myrtles too.

As you shop and consider, do keep in mind the mature size of your plants. If the tag says it will be four feet x four feet, in the south, you can figure that it will be that and more. The key to low maintenance is choosing plants that are well suited to their situation and that don't have to be constantly trimmed to maintain the size you want.

And, by the way, make your beds plenty deep. Any planting looks better if it is 3 to 5 plants deep. Allow a couple of empty feet at the back of the beds to make it easy tot wash windows, paint, etc. You can figure that almost any shrub will need a four x four foot square of space in a few short years. Therefore, if you have 3 rows of shrubs in a foundation bed, you will want a minimum of fourteen feet from the house wall. Add another foot or two if you want to edge the bed with flowers, monkey grass, etc.
FYI, Encore Azaleas come in a wide variety of sizes. In recent years some have been introduced that stay very low. These are well worth seeking out.

And finally, don't forget monkey grasses (liriopes and ophiopogons). I know they are used to death in the south, but it's because they are so hard to beat. They're evergreen, tough and undemanding. Do some research. There are many kinds and colors available. I like to use them as edgings, but also in massive sweeps, especially around a ground level porch.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 12:48PM
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Don't put even small trees up too close to your foundation. Their roots can grow in and under it. I have lived in my house 36 years. I would strongly suggest putting evergreen shrubs first. There are lots of hollies that will look good for years. READ sizes on the plants you buy and like the former person suggested give each shrub plenty of room, at least 4 square feet or more, even if it looks sparce at first. Put taller plants on the corners and Maybe between windows with dwarf plants like Nandina Firepower out in front. I have some striped lirope grass
as an edge - monkey grass is too invasive, you will be digging it out in a few years; the same is true of daylilies. I have 200 different dayliles, but not up against my house. Put them in beds they can grow wider in away from your house. Look at pictures in Southern Living Magazine and remember in the South everything will grow wider and taller. The evergreen encore azaleas are nice but please read tags as to size. Lorpetulems are pretty (purples) There are some beautiful summer plants that have purple leaves but they lose their leaves in winter. You don't want leafless plants up against your house all winter. Perennials usually look terrible in winter. I put them in the backyard in beds.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 4:07PM
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