Another ligustrum Q: good alternatives?

paradisecircus(7b/8a)June 18, 2013

Hi all! So as a beginner gardener who is trying to replant my NW flowerbed, I decided to begin with foundation plantings that are evergreens to serve as the "bones" of my garden.

I bought 2 wax leaf ligustrum because I needed a shrub that grows quickly, is dense enough to serve as a privacy screen, neutral backdrop for the more fun plants I'll be planting later, can withstand being on the west side of the house in full sun and the heat that comes with it (reflected heat, too) and can somewhat shade that area of the house, hopefully for a touch more energy efficiency.

I just called the nursery and told them not to deliver the ligustrum tomorrow because I'm reading that they're boring, common and invasive. Not good, as I want to be a responsible gardener. What would be a better, more attractive alternative? I've been considering cherry laurel but now would be a horrible time to plant trees, wouldn't it? Plus, the larger specimens at my local nursery run in the $500 range o_O

Any suggestions are appreciated!

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Oh, and I'm in that awesome part of Tarrant county that sits on the border between zones 7b and 8a.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 7:26PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

How much full sun will this garden have? What about a Texas Superstar rose?

I want this beauty so badly, Grandma's Yellow Rose. It needs 4-5 hours of full sun and gets 4-5 feet tall and around 3 feet wide. You already have Cenzino (a variety of Texas Sage), right?

If you are in Fort Worth, you are in zone 8a like me :-) I'm just 17 miles north of downtown.

This is a fabulous place to see varieties that do well here..Texas Superstar Plants! Lot's of pretties that can actually withstand our environment. We Texans like to think we are special :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Superstar Plants

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 8:35PM
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Awesome! Thank you for the link!! When I say full sun, I'm talking direct, brutal, beating, insulting sun from 1pm until the sun goes down with no shade and reflected heat from the driveway nearby. Yes, I do have 4 Texas sage in the front part of that bed that are taking the sun and heat like the toughies they are! But they're small right now, grow slow and aren't as dense as I'd like. So I've been trying to find something to work as a screen that I can plant behind them. Most of the options I'm finding are pretty lackluster or invasive. I do have an oleander there right now but it's pretty pathetic looking and all I can think of when I look at it is "Oh, Texas highways!" I'd also prefer to stay away from anything yellow, which also limits me greatly, I'm finding.

I have heard certain cultivars of roses do well in Texas sun and heat! My MIL keeps pushing Knockout Roses. Pretty as they are though, those are a "2nd stage" planting. I want to show those babies off. What I need for now is just something dense but still attractive to basically cover up the west side of my house. Once I get these evergreen foundation plantings done, I'll go for the pretty stuff!

And heck yeah, we Texans are special!! :D

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:19PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I have dwarf yaupon holly and boxwood *yawn* as foundation plantings and they really are boring but do well in my very shady garden. My neighbor grows a lot of eleaganus augustifolia between our gardens and I like the silvery leaves, but those babies really grow fast. They want my yard too :-) I swear the new growth each season has branches that are at least 12 feet long. That's a real commitment. She prunes them hard a couple times each year.

The superstar page has other roses too, I'm just a freak for yellow. I am not a huge rose lover and am not a fan of knockouts. I do have some experience with Martha Gonzales roses, also a single rose. They grow very fast, like from 1 foot height to 5 feet in 2 years and very dense. We planted them in the master gardener demo garden in Granbury. I was amazed this spring when I went back for a visit.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Yeah, the hollies are boring but I do like the yaupons with their smaller leaves. The elaeagnus sounds nice, especially the silvery color, which would look cool with the sage. Unfortunately, I think the yaupon would be ravaged by this spot I'm trying to fill and the elaeagnus sounds like more pruning than I think I could deal with. I've considered desert plants even, but I already have red yuccas in a separate xeriscaped area in front of my trash cans that sits between the driveway and street. They get even more abuse and are looking like champions out there with their big red shoots!! Unfortunately, planting more red yuccas along the house just sounds BLAH to me (too same-same) and they still aren't tall and dense enough.

I really don't want to plant something invasive but I don't know what else to use that I can afford. I can't afford to spend $200 on shrubs right now :(

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:23PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Totally understand the outlay of cash and the need to get more bang for your buck. I have a nice cactus garden but none of those plants are what I would consider backdrop plants. How tall are you thinking that you want? Some of the salvia microphylla and greggii's make nice mounded plantings and are quite xeric. My hot lips really needs a trim and a move since it's gotten to be around 4 X 4. It's getting moved next to the wall so that it can be out of the way. It's a mature plant now but even the first year that I had it, it grew to 3 x 3.

I get a lot of inspiration from visiting nice nurseries. Stuart Nursery in Weatherford carries nice, healthy plants and are reasonably priced. I think that I still have every perennial that I ever got there.

Weston Gardens is off of I 20 and Anglin Dr is another place to visit for great visual ideas and also reasonable pricing. I don't go there as much, Weatherford is closer to me and I love Stuart's and the Farmer's Market (if you already know what you want)

These types of nurseries will carry plants suited to the area. I also shop at the box stores to get better pricing, but I've gardened here for a very long time and have developed a feel for what works and doesn't. My weakness used to be lavender and it took many dead plants before I finally admitted that they just aren't for me. Kinda like that Miracle Grow Moisture Control commercial. My house is where lavender plants come to die :-)

I am fortunate enough, or unfortunate maybe, to live in the cross timber region and have sandy loam to garden in. Easy to dig but just doesn't hold moisture or nutrients well. We have a double pallet sized compost bin that I supplement with temporary fencing 'rings' and I never have enough compost. I hated living and gardening with black gumbo, but that soil is fertile and holds some moisture.

I just realized that I have written a novelette, hope you have plenty of coffee :-)

I'm off to conquer the world or my little piece of it.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 5:11AM
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I enjoy the novelettes! I am a novelette-ist as well ;) And ironically, I am sitting down to a cup of coffee right now. Ha!

Ideally, I'd like it to be around 8-ish feet tall. I'm willing to plant a few for it to cover an area about 14 feet wide. It also needs to be something that can be shaped to not be too deep. I've included a photo. The area from ground to the lowest level roof is 9 feet. From the inner corner to the outer corner, next to where the double windows are is 12 feet wide. This photo was taken at 7pm and as you can see, it gets direct western sun for a minimum of 6 hrs. The rock, while pretty, is going to get moved. They're almost impossible to keep clear of debris and weeds and I'd rather show off plants here than rocks.

I wish I could be more flexible but that corner of the house is the breakfast nook with the garage on the other side and it gets HOT. We lose a lot of A/C and heat at that end of the house. I don't really like the "wall o' plants" look but we NEED something there. Our nice "energy saving blinds" aren't enough. Plus, the neighbors across the street are...ahem, not visually pleasing to look at. What I'd really like is an already semi-grown tree to put further out in the yard that would grow big and lovely and shade the west side but that's $$$ and not the right time of year.

I must say I appreciate everyone's input!! I know I'm being overly cautious, but I don't want to mess up!

Oh, and also regarding the photo, the Texas sage have been moved to where all 4 line up in the foreground of the bed where they'll all get the direct sun. The space between the sage bushes and the wall is about 4 feet.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 2:06PM
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A warning about eleagnus, it is extremely invasive as well as huge.

I have a couple and wish I didn't. I had heard they were drought tolerant and they are to an extent, but a few died during that last drought. The ones that survive put out millions of seeds that sprout up everywhere. Not so bad in the grass because the mower takes care of them, but I spend hours every spring in the flower bed areas pulling out seedlings.

Also, they are on the Texas Invasives List, at least 3 varieties, including the shrub form, eleagnus pungens.

My NW corner is a killer too and so far the only thing that is thriving there is rosemary.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 4:36PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I'm just not seeing much room there without blocking the windows. Did I read that you planted the sage bushes 4 feet out from the wall? Had you considered a trellis covered in (vine of your choice)? The mature size of the sage will be 6 X 6 approximately. Do you see where I'm going with this?

My bedroom is next to the garage and gets really hot too. I want to add insulation, I can't see without removing drywall, but it feels like they forgot to insulate that wall.

A shade tree will be fabulous to plant this fall.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 6:08PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

Considering space constraints, and the future size of the cenizo, I'd put up a wall of lattice-stuff and plant a row of a vine to cover for the summer. You really don't want to plant anything that's really permanent right now, they do much better planted in the fall so that they get their roots established before summer attacks them.

If there's only 4' between the wall and the sage, I wouldn't think that there'd really be enough room to plant anything else. The sage will get to it's mature height in a couple of years, you could replant an annual vine on the lattice/trellis until it does.

As for the heat, a friend bought a house (it's over 80, maybe almost 100, years old by now) that the previous owner had cut holes in the sheetrock (OK, I'm telling y'all what she told me) and filled the walls with more insulation, then put up another layer of sheetrock instead of patching the holes. So, if nothing else, it's possible to add insulation to specific walls...and might be more cost efficient sometimes.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 8:31PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I have some amazing Japanese Morning glory seeds from EmmaGrace, if you've heard of her. I will never be able to grow all of these out. There are all sorts of colors and patterns, seriously, if you just want to go with a trellis there or near the barbeque pit (or anywhere else), I have a huge tackle box full of all sorts of seeds.

We could meet for tea or something if you want to see if I have anything you are interested in.

I sound like a d*** stalker :-) My email link is enabled if you put your screen name in the subject so I know it's a good email.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 10:00PM
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tommyjmcintosh(7a Tx)

I would go with the wax leaf, they used to be overused,but the freeze of 1980 took out the majority of them. They grow in sun or shade, the foliage is attractive, they bloom in spring and I think smell really good and they can be pruned into small trees if they get too tall (think crape myrtles) . I have not found them to be invasive in my zone (7b) I would say not to plant them in a straight line, get three and stager them kinda zig zag. I don't trim my into a box shape, I prune out the misshapen and leave them in a more natural shape(I don't have a formal landscape, more of a cottage thing)
I have 2 bedroom windows facing west and what I have done is to plant a crape myrtle out in the yard so that the shade is cast onto the window that is in the sun. You can go out in the yard and about 2 o'clock or whenever the sun starts to strike the window line up your shadow toward the window and that is where the small tree goes. You might later want to expand that to a small island with roses or annuals, just keep in mind that you need to group plants with similar needs, can't put texas sages and roses together because they have different water needs. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 2:05PM
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marti- I should print a list of invasives in Texas. Not only do I want to be cautious but don't want to add to my workload. I have a beautiful Shumard red oak that, while huge and casts amazing shade, plops acorns everywhere. The mower gets most of them but if I miss a seedling and let it get even 3 inches high, the long root they send out is a biotch to pull out. For me, anyway. Ha!

pkponder- I totally see where you're going. Sounds like I already have the space filled pretty well. I'm excited for when they get bigger and bushier and I can plant cool stuff mixed in that will provide a pop of color and contrasting textures/shapes among them. A trellis is an idea I've toyed with. I do have 2 Tangerine Dream crossvines that are on my patio for now while they rehabilitate. Found them cheap and sickly, so I'm babying them a bit to see if I can salvage them. One of them seems to be done flowering but IDC. I've read nothing but good things about them. I'll definitely plant an awesome tree on that end of the lot this fall. And don't worry about sounding like a stalker. I'm assuming "d***" refers to a male body part and if so, no need to worry as I don't have one of those :) Would love to take a gander at your tackle box sometime!

tx_ag- HAHA!!!! I would've loved to hear that story in person! Hey, I'm all for doing what works. Especially if it's cost effective! I'll admit to my first (stupid) beginner mistake--didn't put any trays under my potted plants. Just right on the concrete. My temp solution was to place 2 bricks under each pot and a cheap Tupperware container in the middle. That way, I still get drainage without staining the concrete and I can just slide out the container when I need to empty it without having to move the pot. It ain't perty but it works and it was free!

tommy- A crepe myrtle is a definite one on my list that I just can't WAIT to plant!!! I think they're so beautiful and I see them all over FW. I just don't know what color! I have also toyed with the idea of creating an island on that end of the lot. It's just a big open space right now that gets baked. Would love something else to look at besides the neighbors 4 or 5 broken down vehicles in their front yard :(

Thanks again everyone for your posts! It's all so helpful and encouraging. I've literally only been gardening for 2 months. Just to give you an idea how clueless I was, I didn't know what composting was or what it was for, much less something like chelated iron. I get a bit anxious about this. I'm pretty anal retentive as it is. Not feeling like I have "control" over every aspect makes me nervous sometimes. But I suppose that's also part of the fun :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 10:31PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Oh, my explicative rhymed with dam :-)

Crossvine are beautiful!

If I had more sun, I would plant coral honeysuckle and evergreen wisteria. Those are on my wish list.

I hear you on the oak seedlings, my yard is shady because it's covered with post and blackjack oaks. Pliers work really well to get a good grip on them.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 6:17AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Second the evergreen wisteria, Pam...........still waiting to get a one gallon container of it as the five gallon is a bit much for me to try to dig a hole for.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 9:52AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Carrie, have you found them locally? They are just so pretty!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Bahaa!! Well that just goes to show you where MY mind is. Sheesh! :P

Wisteria and coral honeysuckle sound divine! The colors alone would be gorgeous. I'll give the pliers a go on the oak sprouts. Thanks for the rec.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 11:57AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I haven't as yet, Pam, but have three nurseries looking for me. Do you want me to let you know if I find them??? I can get a five gallon container now, but that is a tad large for me to handle.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 1:20PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

No, I want to build the new pond first and get one to go behind the waterfall, one of the few sunny spots in the yard. That's all in the future (hopefully start digging this fall) and maybe they will be more readily available by then.

Thanks for the offer Carrie!

By the way, I confirmed with the Senior Horticulturalist at the Fort Worth Botanical garden that Millettia reticulate is the evergreen wisteria that is growing over the pergola behind the conservatory. It is spectacular!

This post was edited by pkponder on Fri, Jun 21, 13 at 16:05

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 3:44PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Cherry Laurel is an native alternative for waxleaf ligustrum. Mountain laurel will grow in that spot but is not a fast grower but once it does it is evergreen and very nice. Strawberry guava, Salvia regla will get close to 8' in time but it will like only quick draining soils. Texas barberry, Wax Myrtle is a great alternative. One can train it into a small multi trunk tree as it gets older and get something going underneath it . But it does make a hedge also. Rusty Blackhaw is a beauty and will take afternoon sun . Carolina buckthorn. Texas persimmon ( beautiful peeling bark),

This post was edited by wantonamara on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 13:31

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:11AM
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random_harvest(z8 TX DFW)

Please, please if you want to be a good neighbor, don't plant cherry laurel! They make kazillions of seeds and every one of them sprouts and grows into something un-pullable practically overnight. They're also very brittle and a little ice will bring them down.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:55AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

They never sprout in my yard in Austin. Strange how things change from place to place.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:29PM
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wantonamara- I'll definitely look up the plants you suggested. Thank you!

random_harvest- I'll certainly keep that in mind. I want to be polite to the neighbors, too! I'm sure I'll be posting about neighbors at a later time when I'm having to address the fence line. Uuuugghhh, not looking forward to that.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:29PM
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PKponder TX
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