Unusual or oddly-shaped spaces can create landscaping challenges, as
this reader has discovered.
QUESTION: "I need advice on planting bushes or something in a small
space. We have a strip along the side of our house that is about 22"
wide and 160" long, so as you can tell, it is pretty long and narrow.
On top of that, there is a tree roughly half way in between that we
would really like to keep.
"We are not sure what to plant there and we are hoping to plant
something that might provide color year round. We have thought about
evergreens but don't know if that would look right with a different
tree in the middle." - Andrea Deaver
ANSWER: 22 inches is a very narrow space for most shrubs as their
roots will probably spread more than that width. Stay with narrower-
growing plants such as the sky pencil holly, which will give height,
but not width. Varied heights of ornamental grasses are gorgeous, too.
Throwing in some very low growing shrubs and perennials will also
spice the area up. Choose shrubs and perennials that flower or produce
bright colors throughout the seasons. Select different plants for
color, height, and texture and you should be able to create an
interesting foundation planting.
QUESTION: "I am considering planting Purple Wintercreeper (along with
drifts of other varieties of groundcovers and shrubs) on a large,
steep, south-facing bank but I am concerned about its aggressively
invasive character. Will the garden center-type lawn edging that you
suggest in your article on groundcovers actually work to contain
Purple Wintercreeper's spread? Thank you for your advice." - Douglas
ANSWER: Yes, lawn edging will work because Purple Wintercreeper is
somewhat shallow rooted. It will usually take hold not from the roots
but more from the tops that hang over the edging. That is not a big
deal if you keep it trimmed once or twice at the most per season with
a weed whacker.
QUESTION: "What can I do to get more flowers on my Hydrangea plants?
They are so leafy and now the flowers are turning brown." - Diana
ANSWER: Usually plants that have been fed a lot of high nitrogen
fertilizer experience a lot of foliage growth but not many blooms.
This could be the reason, if you have been fertilizing them. Hold off
the fertilizer and see if they come back with better blooms next
QUESTION: "My lawn has begun to showsigns of browning. In fact, two of
the outer edges appear to have completely died with just dirt
remaining. I have read articles stating that I should just water once
a week... but deeply! Is this true? "I will admit that I have been
watering at night at about 11 p.m. then again around 6 a.m. This
sounds like a mistake according to what I have read. Can you give me a
simple 1, 2, 3 on how much, and when to water my lawn. Thanks! Joe
ANSWER: You don't mention where you are located, but with your grass
going dormant at this time, I'm guessing you have cool season grass.
By nature, cool season grass will slow up to the point, sometimes, of
going dormant during the heat of summer and then perk back up as the
weather begins to cool down.
Regardless of whether you are in the north with cool season grass or
in the south with warm season grass, your watering schedule is too
frequent. Actually it is better to water a lawn once every 5-7 days
and water it longer rather than shorter, more frequent waterings.
Stressing the grass out over a longer period will grow grass with a
deeper root system and it will be able to withstand any serious
weather problems that may arise, including utility-imposed watering
Below is a link to the University of Illinois Extension site on lawn
care. It is extremely informative and will help guide you through this
period as well as set you up for next spring/summer.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org