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How to landscape with shrubs and perennials in your yard
A good friend of mine and fellow landscaper, Brian Haines, started a Facebook group for landscape gardeners to share landscape photos. They’ve had thousands of members join over the past couple of months and share pictures and ideas of their own gardens. They also include questions in the comments section to help the group’s members get a better handle on things. I’ve been enjoying the group and answering questions with good ideas of my own. I don’t participate as often as some others do (most of the photos I’ve been taking lately are for my blog), but it’s nice to check in here and answer questions and talk about things with other people who know what they’re doing.
Recently, a user asked how to landscape her yard. I said a bit about it in the comments section, but she posted a picture of the site she wanted to landscape and asked for some direction. The site (from a local nursery) is a good example of why a lot of people (including me!) are using boxwoods in place of the native trees that were once in the majority in this part of the country. It’s hard to find deciduous native trees that will grow big and stay in your yard for 10 years or more. Boxwoods grow well and look good for the first 5-6 years, then die back for a couple of years. During this time, the native plants come back and the yard looks really nice.
For the shrubs in the foreground, I think she should go with something other than boxwoods. Many local nurseries sell plants called “boxcreeper”. It’s the same species as the boxwood. These are fast growing shrubs and can have a similar height to a boxwood and will look nice in the front of her site for a couple of years. You can grow them in a variety of sizes, too. They’re nice to have in an entryway or as border plants.
On the right is a redwood tree, which is also in the same family as the boxwood. Again, these are shrubs, but they’re fast growing and you can use them as a border plant or in a small group. You can’t plant redwoods in a small area like a boxwood can, but they’re also not as big or wide as the boxwood, so you’ll have to decide what you want. You may like one of them more than the other and be able to pick your favorite.
As a final example, you’ll note that my front entry and walkway is done in boxwood. I have another kind that’s more narrow and shrubby looking that I prefer for that area. But I can also put in a boxwood if needed. I would have the same flexibility.
So that’s the difference between boxwood, redwood and others in your yard, whether it’s as a border plant, or as a tree. They all serve the same purpose — they create a barrier to help keep mosquitoes out of your yard — but they’re all different. You can easily grow one and have it look like the other, or go for something that will stand out in your yard.
And because they’re slow growing, you won’t have to worry about them sprawling and eating all your shrubs. But if you’d like to grow a boxwood in a large area of your yard, you will have to keep them well watered. Otherwise they won’t grow as fast. And it will be more difficult to keep them pruned back.
For some ideas for what to plant where, read my previous post. Or see what you have in your own yard for more ideas on where you might plant things.
So, as you may know by now, you can plant and grow anything in your yard. It’s up to you, how much money you want to spend. There are a few things to consider, such as space.
If you have a large yard and want to plant more than you have room for, consider using mulch. It can be pretty nice.
I’ve seen some of the benefits of mulch, such as:
It can cut down on weeds. Some weeds are tough to pull out, but if you have an abundance of mulch, you can just push them to the side.
In a mulched garden, weeds grow lower. If you grow lettuce, you’re not going to get any taller than the size of the lettuce. You can even grow broccoli up higher in the garden, but because you have mulch, you’re going to get taller broccoli plants.
In a garden with mulch, it can help insulate the roots of plants from the cold, which is a good thing in the winter.
It can help keep the soil warmer, thus helping it dry out less.
It can help in the summer. It can protect your roots from the scorching sun.
It’s a little cheaper than gravel or other material, so it can be good for people who are tight on budget.
If you do want to mulch your garden, just keep in mind that it will be a little slippery if you have kids playing in it.It will help keep the grass out, but it will help keep the kids in, too.
And you can always put a mat under the plants, and put pebbles on top. That way, your plants have some traction when they need to be pulled out.
You may have heard that some cities around the country are changing what plants are allowed in their streets. They are looking for more native species, but some cities have made sure they will still have some of the ones that people want.
What they’re doing is to have restrictions in place, and that way, the plants they select are not going to be invasive species.
But they’re not saying what they’re looking for just yet. You have to remember that there is a public safety component to this, too. They don’t want to allow you to plant anything that may get out of hand.
They may be looking for something that’s drought resistant, something that requires very little water.
Something that requires the least amount of water or the least amount of sunlight.
Something that you can’t easily get a hold of.
They may also be looking for something that won’t get out of hand, or can be removed if it does get out of hand.
It’s always best to contact your local government before planting something. If you think you may need to