My Woodlands Garden

mom2coy(5)June 11, 2014

Good afternoon!

We purchased our house last summer. We cleaned out a lot of the brush (in the process I got a SEVERE case of poison ivy, UGH!), and planted a few new perennials and moved some hostas from a sunny bed. You can see those under the oak.

The area directly behind the dirt line is someone else's property. I'm interested in adding taller shrubs behind the hosta and bleeding hearts. Will anything survive in shade like this?

It gets a little breakthrough backlit sun at the end of the day from the NW.

Any ideas?

Any opinions on what/how I'm doing so far?

I've never gardened in shade before!!


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There are many things that will not only survive but do very well. cannot see your link

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 12:22PM
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My house is surrounded by trees on three sides. The trees and brush were right up to the grass edge when we moved in. We raised the canopy, removed any tree not bigger than a man's forearm and all the brush. We then planted any and every shade loving plant we could find. Jack-n-the pulpits and Solomon seal are two natural wild flowers that were here. There are others. Together they are all very happy together. I have put Anabelle hydrangea in the back of my beds as well as giant hosta. When the hydrangea bloom the white really draws your eye to the back of the bed. Hosta are my main event but cora bells, jacob's ladder, astilbe, bleeding heart--three kinds, garden primrose, columbine, and many different ferns always has something blooming and always gives me something to look at.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:30PM
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If you're looking for taller shrubs in the back, you might look at different varieties of viburnum, rhododendrons, deciduous azalea maybe.

Arcy, your woodland garden is very beautiful. Looks like it was a lot of work!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:00PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

You're on the right track and now you need to start adding layers (i.e. stratification) to your woodland garden. Rhodies, mountain laurel, viburnum et al along with flowering trees (dogwoods, serviceberry, redbud etc). All in due time young lady. My property (on but a 1/3 acre) was all grass 18 years ago. Here's one look - it's a fall pic (with no flowering, per se, but come spring it's a riot of color)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:53AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Here's another shot- this of my front yard looking sideways.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:58AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

And this is what you can create when you add a shrub layer amongst a herbaceous layer of bleeding hearts, columbine, ferns et al

This post was edited by birdsong72 on Thu, Jul 3, 14 at 7:43

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 10:01AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Mom2, it looks good so far! Love the pup, too!

I can't tell what all the shrubs are, but I love the touches of color and the hosta. I think the others gave you great advice. I would choose a couple shrubs you like a lot that you could place in several areas to create some repetition, but not too obviously. Same with perennials. One thing that will get quite large is the oakleaf hydrangea which does very well in a setting like yours and will provide you with the privacy you are looking for except in winter.

I hope we get to see your progress over the years!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:35PM
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Your garden looks nice. You do not really need to do too much.

It also depends on how you want your garden/yard to look like. People have different taste.

The principles I have been following are:

1. Keep as much existing plants as you can;
2. Get rid of all invasives;
3. Maintain a natural look, not very artificial;
4. Maintain layers, tall trees, medium and small trees, shrubs etc.
5. Plant as much natives as you can. You can certainly move seedlings from other part of your yard to the new spot.
6. Only plant a few ornamental plants if you really like. They should really fit well into the existing environment.

A very natural, low-maintenance, environment friendly is all you need.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:46PM
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Looks beautiful Kelly! We moved into our newly built home in late December. The backyard is a wooded area, filled with trees that we're not supposed to cut according to the county. But like you, I cut down anything that didn't have a 6" diameter. The brush at the base of the trees was probably about 4' high at that time. I hired someone with a bush hog to come in and clear all the brush in February. By Spring, you could easily see the brush popping up out of the ground. Since then I've sprayed it with Brush Killer by Roundup and that seemed to do the trick. I've been spending the past 2 months just raking up all the dead brush with a metal rake and disposing of it. I've planted a few shade loving plants under the canopy of the trees, but I don't want to rush into it. I think what I'm going to do next is purchase bales of long pine needle mulch and lay that down throughout the area. I have a ton of boulders mixed in there, so I'm going to try to organize those and define some pathways. Then I think it'll be easier for me to see where the remaining planting beds should be located.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:22AM
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"But like you, I cut down anything that didn't have a 6" diameter. "

This is puzzling. In the woodland, there are a lot of native bushes, trees and tree seedlings. To promote a healthy woodland, you need all layers.

Anyway, I would not go that extreme. I'll try to keep as many plants as possible, but get rid of the bad invasive first.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:34AM
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I'm with you, achang89. I always cringe just a little when I hear of folks for whom "wooded lot" improvement consists largely of eliminating any natural regeneration which might be going on. Plus, when a house gets plunked down in a woods, it is precisely the small-diameter trees which have the best long-term survival outcomes. The big, mature stuff can't handle the grade changes, fill, roots cut, soil compaction that a young whippersnapper might just withstand, with its youthful vigor. Might be going overboard for this particular thread, but that is a common theme-remove all the small stuff, native or not. In fact, most typically, the practitioner has no clue what the identity of the stems are that are being removed.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:50PM
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It also depends on each person's situation. We have a couple acres of land, with 3 sides surrounded by wooded areas. On the side with the fence, I just cut down whatever tall bushes/trees which grow into fence area. I also cut down most of the multiflora rose, but leave everything else alone.

On the other two sides, it took me several years to rid of the bad plants. I do not have the time to constantly maintain the wooded areas. So low-maintenance is only practical way for me.

The wooded areas have very rich soil. So I'll see a lot of different plants coming up. The native plants (such as dogwood) are as beautiful as the expensive ornamental plants we buy at nurseries.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:15PM
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