container plants for concrete drive on west side

lecorbeau(7b)September 25, 2004

My driveway runs right up against the west side of our brick veneered house. Needless to say, it's very hot in the summer afternoons. I'm hoping to find an evergreen plant that will grow bushy enough in a container there to hide my garbage cans from the front. There is no shade at the top of the drive where the cans are.

I've been trying a Lady Banks rose, but it isn't happy. I also have an osmanthus, but it's just not getting very big to give cover. Does anyone know of a plant that could thrive in this situation?

Another possibility is to make a brick planter right on the driveway up against the house. I just wonder if this would damage the house with its moisture, and if a plant could grow in it successfully without also being destructive to the house.

Anyone got any opinions on this?



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KMc_in_Atlanta(7 Georgia)

Hi Kate-

I also have containers on an asphalt drive on the southwest side of the house --they are used as "road blocks" to keep traffic from driving through our townhouse community in urban Atlanta. I have two kinds of plants that have done well in these conditions--the best has been purple lorapetulum (sp?) or Chinese Fringe plant, which gets full and bushy, and is loaded with small hot pink blooms in the spring. I also have clematis on 3-foot trellises, but those may not do as well in hot western sun.

A couple of suggestions--get the very biggest containers you can find / afford / manage to drag home. I found some concrete planters at Home Depot for about $25 - $30 apiece that are about 28"-30" tall and about 24" in diameter. Use that Water Saver stuff (looks like rice when dry in the container, like Jello when wet in the soil) in the pots, and mulch heavily on top of the soil. Expect to water frequently in hot weather--I water 2 to 3 times per week in the summer. An occasional shot of fertilizer doesn't hurt either, since the frequent watering can leach nutrients out of the soil.

About building a planter against the side of the house--do you have a basement? All that water you're putting on your plants has to drain somewhere....

Let us know what you decide to do! Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 26, 2004 at 9:15AM
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Thank you! I didn't know anything about Lorapetulum, but having looked on Google, I see it is really attractive, and it's evergreen. I think I'll try it.
There is only a crawl space under my house. If I made the planter, I'd be sure to have drainage on the lower end so it would run down the slight incline of the driveway, but I'd still worry about the constant moisture against the brick. After all, it is porous, right?
So, I think I'll try the Chinese fringe plant.
Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2004 at 12:33PM
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WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)

I have the same situation - a cement driveway on the west side of my house. There is a small strip of soil (about 2 feet wide) between the house and the driveway, and I have filled that mostly with various sedums. I also have a few pots there that I water, containing a hydrangea bush, some dahlias, and coneflowers. They all seem happy. A pillar-type rose bush I planted there suffers from the dry heat but has survived.

On the driveway itself I have pots of various herbs and flowers, all of which need watering almost every day during the summer. The bigger the pot the better, and I try to keep them all together in a group so they can shade each other.

But I have been very surprised by one plant that seems to thrive in the heat - a blueberry bush. It's planted in a half barrel and the soil mixture I planted it in was very heavy on mulch and half-composted pine bark. Although it seems very hot on that side of the house, the blueberry bush never asks for supplemental water. I don't know if it's the soil mix, the size of the pot, or the nature of the blueberry, but it's great! And here in Georgia, the bush is pretty much evergreen. I've only had it a couple of years, so it doesn't produce a lot yet, but next year I'm hoping for a big yield.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 12:26PM
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Hi, Westender! Thanks for the ideas. I actually have a couple of rabbit-eye blueberry bushes in my back yard. Here they are deciduous. I almost put them on the other (east) side of my house but because it would have been near the neighbor's driveway, decided not to. Aren't you afraid the birds will get your berries and leave purple droppings on your car?
I like the sound of your groupings. It makes it sound more like a patio. I think I'll try that with various heights and textures. Oh, this is looking better and better!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 4:20PM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

Have you considered August beauty Gardenias? I have them on the west side of my house, up against the stone veneer, and between the house and sidewalk. They can get quite large, have a beautiful and fragrant bloom in May and again in late august. The only problem could be when we have a hard winter, if I understood your situation they would be completely exposed? By planting against the house it allows the radiant heat from the brick veneer to provide sufficient protection. If you can find them, it is my understanding that Hardy Klein Gardenias are better suited for an unprotected spot. Another possibility is Arp Rosemary which likes hot dry locations and is evergreen.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 10:31PM
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WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)

Oh, Kate, I gave up on keeping all my berries to myself. Now I call myself running a bird haven.

Another interesting and challenging feature of my west-facing driveway and gardens is that they are on a hill. But at least I don't have to worry about standing water! And with all the rain we've been having lately, that is a problem elsewhere.

I forgot to mention the thornless blackberry vines that are also on the west side of my house. They are in another narrow strip of "garden" on the far side of the driveway, but are planted in the ground rather than in a pot. I've had them only a year but they are doing very well. Just ask the brown thrashers! The mockingbirds seem to prefer tomatoes (also grown in pots, but at a higher spot on the driveway where the ground is level). My driveway is so full of potted plants (climbing lima beans, bell peppers, flowers, etc.) that there is barely room to squeeze my car in at night. For whatever reason, the birds almost never leave messes on my car. Maybe they're showing their appreciation for all the free food.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2004 at 12:37PM
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These are great ideas! I think that section of my driveway will soon be a pleasure to look at.
By the way, Deiter2, are you anywhere near the Triad? I have a rosemary next to my driveway (on the side of the drive away from the house, where there is soil to plant in) and it keeps getting very speckled. I think it's from the ozone in this area. It was worse last year. Do you have this problem with yours?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2004 at 6:00PM
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