Looking for suggestions

I live in Virginia, zone 6 I believe. I have a hedge of sorts of photinia on the west side of my house. Since these tree/shrubs tend to be problematic, I am considering removing them and replacing with other plantings. The area is about 60-80 ft long and maybe 18-24 inches wide (between the outside of my fence and the sidewalk). I have about 10-12 of these plants to remove so this will probably be a summer-long project.
I am looking for suggestions for replacement plantings. Ideally, I would like to be able to have a variety of sun-tolerant plants that bloom at different times throughout the summer.
TIA,
Lynn
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I would get some perennial catalogs and spend the summer planning. With a sunny exposure in zone 6 you will have a lot of choices. The narrowness of your bed and the fact the it will be next to a public (?) sidewalk complicate the selection. Normally a border has a background, middle, and foreground made up of shrubs, various sizes of perennials and shorter ground cover perennials. That will be difficult, if not impossible, in a narrow bed. Some people mix in spring bulbs and add annuals for color. I would use the summer to remove the plants you don't want and amending the soil. I would probably plant annuals this year and start planting new shrub and perennials in the fall. You can get some good ideas from visiting public gardens, browsing magazines and catalogs, and touring private gardens. Look around your neighborhood for things that work in your area. You might consider phasing in the border over a few years by only removing a portion of the shrubs each year. Also consider what the area will look like in the winter. It is important to have some structure that looks good all years.
Don't be surprised if you find people and their pets disrespecting your efforts. Last week I saw a teenager leisurely picking tulips from a bed in someone's yard and then carrying them down the road to his home! I have found that planting beds along pubic sidewalks become part of the right of way. Kids run their bicycles and scooter thought them while their parents watch with loving expressions reminiscent of Mother Theresa attending the sick. Apparently the big item for Christmas this year in our neighborhood was the motorized vehicle. There are several pre-school kids who spend the day riding these things along the sidewalk, periodically veering off course into lawns, across planting beds, and crashing into cars parked along curbs and in driveways. I have delayed selecting plants for the bed that boarders my driveway, extending to the sidewalk in front of the house. I have my eye of some inexpensive shrub roses for the portion next to the public sidewalk! I had to remove some blue star junipers because after a few years of bicycles running over them and dogs urinating on them, they looked like hell. That area is now taken over with ground cover of sturdy euonymus.
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photinia
of
would
of
ground
I
Look
the
in
the
course
curbs
boarders
eye
sidewalk!
Thanks for your input...very good suggestions. :-)
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