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.
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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