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Native shrubs for deck?

Discussion in 'Nature/Habitat/Garden Corner' started by pamD, May 23, 2005.

  1. pamD

    pamD New Member

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    I am new gardener. We recently put in a deck, and I am thinking about what I kind of shrubs to put around it to hide the underneath (it is about 3' high). I am interested in going native, with something that doesn't require much maintenance. Are there any good shrubs (pref. evergreen) that would do well here?

    Of course, this is assuming I can get the energy to dig up more of this awful clay! I put some azaleas in front this weekend to replace the 2nd set of dead builder's boxwoods, and I sure hope they survive after all that hard work.

    Edited to add another question: Is there a good nursery to buy native plants around here?

    Pam D.
     
  2. Zansu

    Zansu New Member

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    rent an auger!
     
  3. pamD

    pamD New Member

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    I was thinking or renting a tiller, but I guess an auger might actually break through this stuff.

    Pam D.
     
  4. Zansu

    Zansu New Member

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    for planting shrubs, the auger will work better. The tiller works for beds in general, but most don't go more than 12-15 inches-- you're going to need 24+ for a shrub. I've been happy with the Gardenworks nursery on Rt 50 for natives. And they have a LARGE selection of trees and shrubs. And they're still small town helpful.
     
  5. wahoogeek

    wahoogeek New Member

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    Depends on the shrub! Generally the root ball should sit higher than the existing ground level -- especially for azaleas.

    Thanks for the lead on the nursery btw.
     
  6. Zansu

    Zansu New Member

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    Wahoogeek is right about planting depth slightly higher than ground level (especially if you're going to mulch), but the hole depth depends on how big the root ball is and whether you plan to amend the planting hole. You should loosen the soil below where you plan to plant so you don't have hardpan right below the roots (so they'll grow down into the soil).
     
  7. PackersFan

    PackersFan New Member

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    We've used Weigela (wine & roses variety) along the railing to our walkup basement. They're wonderful native plants and require only a little pruning now and then, especially to keep it blooming all summer. As an added bonus, they attract hummingbirds.
     
  8. Linda Schlosser

    Linda Schlosser New Member

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    Have you thought of certifying your yard as a Backyard Habitat? Go to NWF.org and check it out. It is sooooo easy to do online.
     
  9. pamD

    pamD New Member

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    I have thought about habitat certification. I still have work to do, including convincing my hubby that I can keep the water source mosquito-free, and planting some shrubs for cover. I am looking for a nice shrub for around the deck for cover and food source.

    We are especially interested in getting bunnies (luckily, none of my neighbors appear to be avid gardeners).



    Pam D.
     
  10. Zansu

    Zansu New Member

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    well, plant some salvia. they LOVE that.[:p] they have completely decimated mine, and girdled my Japanese maple (ate the bark off for 6 inches above ground over the winter), and the Joe Pye weed. They also like young grown on the oak leaf hydrangea.
     
  11. habitatvolunteer2

    habitatvolunteer2 New Member

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    Hmmm...native Virginia evergreen shrubs. That's a very good question. Per master gardeners, there are not many native evergreen shrubs, but three similar ones are:

    • Rhododendrum catawbiensis/rhododendron catawba; rhododendron calendulaceum (aka Flame Azalea); and rhododendron viscosum (aka Swamp Azalea):
      evergreen, love partial shade but apparently will adapt with some help & proper conditions to almost full shade or full sun (maybe). Can grow 4 or 6 or 8 ft wide & tall depending on variety. Slow growth rates. Beautiful blooms May through July. Shrub can be pruned right after blooming and before the buds set in August. Grows best in well-drained acid soil. Essential to plant the shrub with rootball slightly above ground level in very well-drained soil with a mix of 1/3 amendments to 2/3 existing soil to prevent fungal diseases. If clay soil, mix in 1/3 either Leaf Gro (from Merrifield), or compost, coarse peat moss, sand or perlite. Check with local nurseries & the American Rhododendron Society for more planting tips. Can use light amount of acid fertilizer mix 10-7-7 between February & mid-April. Don't be confused by the hybrid varieties that are prevalent in the nurseries. Hybrids seem to be delicious to deer whereas the natives are not so inviting. As with Azaleas, deer will make a dinner of the leaves on the hybrid and non-native species, but are not as interested in the native varieties. If deer are not a problem in your location, probably no need to worry. Nectar attracts hummingbirds, bumble bees, and other insects.

    I'll see if we can find some other native evergreen shrubs for you...

    Meanwhile, a non-native, but easy-care evergreen shrub that grows very well in our area includes:

    • Dwarf Buford Holly(Ilex cornuta):
      Compact grower is a miniature version of one of the most popular hollies. Prolific bearer of large, bright red berries without a pollenizer present. No thorns or spines. Evergreen hedge or border specimen. Full to partial sun. Slow grower to 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-9. (Simply add Ironite if the leaves start to yellow, small bags of granular Ironite can be bought from either Lowes or Bluemount Nursery). Can be pruned to form dense bush, has berries in the winter for birds, so can fulfill one Habitat requirement. As with all new plantings, must be watered carefully until established, then after that no care is really needed unless you want to prune it into a denser shape. The glossy dark green leaves are smaller, and growth rate is slower than the large regular Buford Holly (which can get 10 to 12 ft big). The leaves, generally, have only one spine at the tip. Dwarf Burford will grow to a height of at least five to six feet if not pruned heavily.
    • Burford holly produces very glossy, dark green foliage. Generally, only one leaf spine is present, and this is at the tip of the leaf. This very popular and widely used landscape holly produces an excellent crop of berries each year. Burford grows quite large, often reaching 10 to 15 feet.


    Largest dealers of Rhodos that I know of are Merrifield Garden Center at 12101 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030 (703) 968-9600 or www.merrifieldgardencenter.com, and also Bluemount Nursery on Rt 7. There might be others, but I'm unaware of them for now. I'll update the thread when I find more in our area.
     
  12. boomertsfx

    boomertsfx Booyakasha!

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    Slightly off-topic, but we've had all sorts of woodland creatures living in our backyard oasis. We've always had bunnies... So many that I couldn't mow the back lawn for fear of accidentally running over a baby one....

    Just yesterday I found a nest of robins in the back yard while mowing and 2 of the babies that weren't able to fly totally got scared and and flew into our fence a few times. My wife tried to rescue one of them and put them back in the nest (with latex gloves so no scent would transfer) under our deck, but the whole family (not just mom and dad, it was a community thing.. like 5 of them!) started dive-bombing her when she was about to put the baby back in the nest. So, we just set him back down in the lawn and hopefully the parents can get them back in the nest.

    We've also have a little chipmunk resident in our front yard, starlings trying to set up house in our gas grill, and mourning doves under the deck. I've never expierienced so much wildlife as I have here in the broadlands. I kinda feel back that we're edging them out, but glad we can co-exist at least a little!

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Linda Schlosser

    Linda Schlosser New Member

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    Laurels are good evergreen shrubs too. They get little white flowers in spring. They are native to Virginia mountain regions as are rhododendrons. You may have had bad luck with your azaleas because they don't like the chemicals that leach out from foundations. Builders use them because they are cheap and give a good first impression but they rarely last in good health. Save them by planting them farther away from you house or patio.
    If you have a yard free from dogs or cats you WILL get bunnies sooner or later. They are very proliferate here; having as many as 6 or 7 litters per year!
     
  14. habitatvolunteer2

    habitatvolunteer2 New Member

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    Newsy is right. Foundations leach chemicals (and alkaline pH) into nearby plants. I have a constant battle with my brick foundation to keep my evergreen bushes green. I use Ironite (from off the shelf at Lowes) on any of my evergreens at the first sight of a yellowing leaf. (I use the dry granules, not the liquid version.) It changes the yellow leaves back to dark green quickly. Ironite has kept my evergreens strong and beautiful - and consequently very healthy - since I discovered it's secret power. :)
     
  15. pamD

    pamD New Member

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    The foundation might be part of the problem, but even my azaleas that are farther from the foundation (4 feet or so) have had a hard time getting established.

    If the foundation makes the soil alkaline, wouldn't it be better to use an acid plant food rather than iron? Does iron help the plant grow, or just make it greener?



    Pam D.
     
  16. habitatvolunteer2

    habitatvolunteer2 New Member

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    Is it better to use acid food plant instead of iron to correct foundation leaching problems? Ah, it all depends on the plant type and its specific requirements. If the plant requires fertilizer, it should get fertilizer. If it does not require fertilizer, then don't fertilize it. All Ironite does is to add a missing natural secondary micronutrient that helps make the plant green and to develop stronger, deeper root systems. It turns yellow leaves back to green. No need to use it if leaves are already a healthy medium or dark green. The granules are a guaranteed analysis of 1-0-0 and will not burn the plant. (The liquid Ironite is a guaranteed analysis of 7-6-6.) I prefer to use the granules because they provide a deeper, longer-lasting effect than the liquid. It's particularly useful for broadleaf evergreens. (Suppliers are listed at www.ironite.com)

    I mention Ironite only as a quickie solution to green-up yellow leaves on evergreen bushes that are located near foundations, however, it sounds like you need more specialized help for your Azaleas. These look like very good sites:

    www.azaleas.org (Azalea Society of America, see the FAQs)

    http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/plantdiseasefs/450-615/450-615.html (typical Azalea diseases found in Virginia, also mentions boxwood diseases too)

    http://home.earthlink.net/~gardenphotos/rhodyho.html#anchor291256 (common problems & solutions for Azaleas)


    Quote from the Henning web site on cultural problems of Azaleas:(http://home.earthlink.net/~gardenphotos/rhodyho.html)
    "Most problems are cultural. Some tender rhododendron & azalea varieties are not suitable for growing outside green houses. Weed killer from weed & feed products is a definite problem. Salt from sidewalks in the winter is a killer to azaleas. Soil near masonry such as foundations and walks is usually alkaline (not acidic) and is a problem. Lawn fertilizer in the fall can set an azalea way back. Another problem is the roots of walnut trees can be toxic to many kinds of plants. For specific problems, visit Common Problems & Their Solutions at http://home.earthlink.net/~gardenphotos/rhodyho.html#anchor291256 ."
     
  17. habitatvolunteer2

    habitatvolunteer2 New Member

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    pamD - I know this is a little late, but here's an interesting link from Loudoun Extension office on the topic of "Selecting Landscape Plants: Broad-leaved Evergreens". It provides an overview of 27 broad-leaved evergreen shrubs (some native, some not) that can be grown in our area: http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-607/426-607.html

    For more detailed information:
    www.wildflower2.org has the largest database for native plant/shrub/tree information. You can search by state, common type, species, etc.

    Www.enature.com also has a good size database of native plants and trees. The photos are better on this site.
     

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