Dry Areas Under HUGE Eaves

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I'll be moving into a new house this week, and a couple of spots present a challenge. The house has eaves extending outward almost 3 feet - great for summer. But, it's a desert under those eaves. There's nothing growing there now, and it's not due to anything the previous owner sprayed - it's just bone dry. I intend to create a very deep perennial border - perhaps 6' deep. My initial idea is simply to cover the dry areas with some sort of flat stones and not even try to get anything to grow. This would give me easy access to the back of the border (and the house itself) for maintenance. But, I'm still curious if anyone's gotten anything interesting to grow in such spots, WITHOUT having to water constantly. I'm in upstate NY, zone 5-6 (depending on exposure). Could be any of the basic "generic shrubs" as a backdrop for the border, or perhaps something more interesting. -Doug
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Did you know that lack of moisture around a homes foundation can actually cause basement leaks?
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I wasn't aware of that. But, I've visited this house once a week since May, and even with 2-3 heavy rainstorms per week, this one's dry as a bone. No stains, no smell, and no aftermarket waterproofing.
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There are a number of small shrubs that once established will have extended their roots far enough to find water, though they would be sensitive to drought for the first year. Witchhazel, weigala, abelia, escalonia, beautyberry, dwarf lilac cultivars, oregon grape, rugosa roses, manzanita, cotoneaster, artemesia, gaura, budleia, Potentilla fruticosa, silver buffaloberry, juniper, Indian hawthorn, rabbitbrush, Siberian pea bush, spireas, & many others will get by with very little watering after the first year. If it's sunny enough you could pack the area with sun-roses & rock-roses & have the floweriest drought-garden imaginable. But for all these, check to see if they can stand zone 5/6 winters, some of them might not, others like abelia might do well enough but be die-back perennials in your zone instead of big bushes like in mine.
But rear access to a garden can be very useful too, or an area of container gardening with automatic drip to them. I have a spot similar to what you describe which until the past two weeks was jam-packed with drought hardy shrubs, but I've been moving them bit by bit so I can build there a chicken pen with laying boxes, for miniature hens that I'll let wander in the whole garden from time to time & pen in when I'm not around.
-paghat the ratgirl
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"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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wrote:

Hmmm....rugosa. Forgot about that. They not only survived the worst abuse imaginable at my last house (drought, rock salt, falling ice chunks), but they actually thrived.
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opined:

Yes, but as a foundation plant, wouldn't you want something evergreen?
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snipped-for-privacy@thebestplace2be.org wrote:

Well grown rugosas (wildest forms with very upright canes) look extremely interesting leafless in winter, & if not harvested they keep the last of their bright orange hips all through autumn & part of winter, very decorative for the hips. They aren't pruned until just before spring, so their winter presence is pretty interesting. Nothing says they can't be planted amidst something evergreen too though. I've planted mine with evergreen rockroses (but those wouldn't likely do well in zone 5) & an evergreen "tree ivy" & an evergreen portuguese laurel cherry, all stuff that hardly ever needs watering. Evergreen holly-like Mahonia (Oregon Grape) might also mix in well, & would do really well in zone 5 mixed in with rugosa roses.
-paggers
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On Thu, 19 Aug 2004 11:31:32 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) opined:

I have a rosa rugosa out back. It's downright deadly. I have to move it this winter. Maybe I will try moving it under the eave of my home in a dry spot. I agree with the winter interest, but in a foundation planting it may not...well, scratch that. I suppose I'm seeing a mental image of something formal, and I don't know why I have that image. Nothing in my garden is formal.
Since you're making nice, I remember you being interested in the perennial morning glory. I will have some cuttings. Would you like one when I get them organized?
Victoria
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snipped-for-privacy@thebestplace2be.org wrote:

Thanks but I did try them with lousy results (vines grew well, but seemingly the season here is too short for them to bloom worth a damn; then this past harsher-than-average winter seems to have killed what little was there) so I've given up on them for now.
Right, rugosa roses should NOT be planted near where one would be walking. They compare to Devil's Walking Sticks for thorniness.
-paggers
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On Thu, 19 Aug 2004 14:35:55 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) opined:

Well, I'm not trying to pontificate the regal nature of this vine, but mine starts blooming late in June till frost and beyond. Maybe the one you had was different. I don't have a proper botanical name, but I will try. This is a most magnificent vine with tri-lobed leaves. Is that the one you had? It's bluer (if that's possible) than the annual 'Heavenly Blue,' and has a larger trumpet.
v
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Maybe. But, this will require much professional planning which, in my garden, means placing the big lounge chair in the appropriate spot and having the right tools nearby: Beer, and several hundred pounds of books & catalogs. :-)
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opined:

That's a combination of conditions for a good time! How do yaupon hollies do up there? I know they are natives here in TX, but outside of that I don't recall seeing them up north for the first 37 years of my life.
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Never heard of yaupon hollies. Other varieties do well, though, even when battered by snow & ice, so a pair of them will probably end up in my yard. My first job, though, is to dig an enormous vegetable garden and bring home 80 tons of manure from the mounted police stables.
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Another thought. Installing rain barrels and using soaker hoses would increase your options a lot. My local Pepsi bottler gave me four 55 gallon HDPE (Food Safe) barrels for no charge and modifying them was easy.
Joe
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That's an interesting idea. What color were the barrels?
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Doug Kanter wrote:

They were white. I used Krylon "Fusion" spray paint to make them match the color of my brick foundation. It bonds to HDPE. Rustoleum also makes a "Plastic Primer" that you are supposed to be able to use any of their paints on top of.
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Hmmm. I see a project looming over the horizon. :-) The new neighbors have no idea what they're in for. One of them already wandered over to tell me that my brown compost box would attract wolves, raccoons, snakes, bears, rats, mosquitoes, etc etc.... I asked her "Really? Who told you that?" She muttered something about "something she heard once".
Wait till she sees the Rheum palmatum in a couple of years.
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Cool! I just got tired of paying the city to water my garden. We've got a spiffy new water treatment plant, and our water bills have become obscene. I found it to be a remarkably simple project. Google "make rain barrel" or something like that and you'll find a lot of info.
My Pepsi barrels had two 3" or so plugs in the top. I was pleased to find that the plugs had 3/4 FPT threads already in the center. I just cut out some plastic out of the center and screwed in a male PVC adaptor. Then it was all gluing 3/4" PVC to connect a faucet. The barrels were placed upside down on cinder blocks, with a large hole in the bottom (Now the top) for the downspout. I cut the hole to accomodate a basket from a pool skimmer to filter out debris. Then I glued some fiberglass screen to the inside of the basket to keep mosquitoes out. (Use the PVC cement, Super Glue doesn't work) Many people just use a little vegetable oil or a mosquito "dunk" to keep the bugs at bay, but I liked this setup.
Cut off the downspout and connect some flexible corregated drain pipe to run to the barrel. Now for an overflow: I found a "sump pump kit" at Home Depot. It's 25 feet of sump pump drain hose, a 1.5" male fitting and a hose clamp. If you drill your hole the right size, the PVC fitting will cut threads into the side of the barrel. I drilled about 3" down from the top. Unthread, coat the fitting with silicone sealant and screw it back in. Connect your hose and run it someplace harmless.
That's it. It sounds complicated to me as I type it out, but if you have your materials at hand, it's an afternoon project.
One barrel is exactly as I describe. Another two are plumbed in parallel to fill and drain simultaneously for 100 gallon capacity and I just cut the entire top out of the last one so that I can plunge a watering can into it. I just place an old window screen on top of that one.
Hope this helps. It's both an ecologically and financially satisfying project. I think the plants like the water better, too.
Joe
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You're giving them unchlorinated water, so their liking the water better is probably not just in your imagination.
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I have a japanese yew in similar conditions - it survives - although I wouldn't describe it as vigorous. It gets NO water, and sits in a tiny island of soil surrounded by asphalt, under the eaves, just to the side of my attached garage doors. (I didn't plant it there - it's really against my nature to torture plants). I suspect that either it transpires very slowly, or has a root system that extends into the irrigated lawn 5-6 feet away, or both. I'm pretty sure that you could plant one under your eaves, but you would need to water it for one year to get it established.

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