Photos courtesy of MelindaMyers.com
Guest Blog by Melinda Myers
With everyone spending more time at home it is not surprising that individuals want to create peaceful oases to relax, meditate or entertain. They are using a combination of plants, decorative fences and screens or container plantings to provide the desired privacy.
Arborvitaes have traditionally been used to create a wall of year-round greenery. What often happens is one or two plants die in the middle of the planting once they reach a substantial size. The fix is to leave the space empty, plant a much smaller plant that looks out of place or try squeezing in a larger transplant and risk damaging its neighbors.
Help them avoid this problem by including a variety of unrelated plants. If a pest attacks, it is less likely to kill all the plants. And it will be easier to add new replacement plants to the mature planting. Plus, with a mix of plants you can add seasonal flowers, fall color, texture, and more diverse beauty.
Narrow upright plants provide screening with a relatively small footprint. Trautman juniper is suited to hot dry locations and grows 12’ tall by 4’ wide. It is resistant to cedar apple rust and deer.
Year-round greenery is welcome but help boost the beauty and enjoyment of your landscape with plants that support pollinators, attract birds, and provide several seasons of beauty.
The four-season Obelisk serviceberry grows 12-15’ tall and 3-4’ wide. Its white spring flowers are followed by purple fruit in June that you and the birds can eat. It ends the season in a blaze of color and once the leaves drop exposes smooth gray bark.
A close relative, the chokeberries (Aronia) are also known for their multiple seasons of beauty. Lowscape Hedger® is upright three to five feet tall and just two to three feet wide. Like the others, it has white flowers in spring and great fall color. This adaptable plant grows in sun or part shade and tolerates wet or dry soil.
Laced UP® elderberry has the foliage of black lace but is upright and narrow, growing six to eight feet tall and three to four feet wide. Its lacy purplish-black foliage makes a nice backdrop for the pink summer flowers, adding to its ornamental appeal.
The narrow columnar apples make a good option for those interested in growing edible plants. Urban®, North Pole™ and Golden Sentinel™ apples are a few narrow upright varieties to consider. Plant two different varieties for fruit to form.
A vine-covered trellis is an excellent screening option for narrow spaces. Consider growing two different vines like climbing roses or Major Wheeler honeysuckle with clematis to double the floral impact or extend the bloom time. Use an annual vine like hyacinth bean, Malabar spinach, scarlet runner bean or Solar Tower sweet potato vine the first year or two. They’ll provide quick cover while the perennials become established and cover the trellis.
Dress up fences with plants. Shrubs, ornamental grasses, flowering perennials can soften the structure and add texture and color. Include pots of tropical plants to create a tropical paradise and annuals for added color.
Espalier fruit and ornamental trees are a great way to add the fruiting or beauty of larger trees into a smaller space. These are options only for those willing and able to regularly prune to maintain the desired size and shape.
Green wall planters mounted on the fence can add edibility or color at eye level. These typically have a very small volume of planting mix and require frequent watering. Irrigation systems that provide water from top to bottom greatly reduce maintenance and increase success.
Make sure the plants selected thrive in the growing conditions and will fit the available space when mature. Less grooming, pest management and care will be needed to grow them into healthy and attractive specimens.
Before placing any plant or structure in the ground, call 811 or file online at diggershotline.com at least three business days in advance. Diggers Hotline will contact all the appropriate companies who will mark the location of their underground utilities in the designated work area. This eliminates the danger and inconvenience of accidentally knocking out power, cable or other utilities while creating a beautiful landscape.
Please remind others to do the same. Since this important step is often overlooked, April has been designated as National Safe Digging Month. It serves as a reminder to always contact Diggers Hotline whenever undertaking any landscape project, large or small.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her web site is www.MelindaMyers.com.
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