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Manalto

Landscaping suggestions?

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Manalto

I just removed 3 Black Diamond 'Red Hot' crape myrtles from this bed.

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Performance was disappointing. Supposedly they reach 10-12' but, for whatever reason, they languished here. After three years, they were barely 5 feet tall and wimpy. I'm thinking now that I'd be better off with tall, narrowish evergreens anyway.

This side of the house faces roughly northwest and on summer afternoons the sun turns these rooms into an EZ-bake oven. This time of the year, the sun doesn't come around to warm things up, unfortunately. Evergreens would act as a windbreak to the occasional north winds.

The shrub in the foreground is a boxwood and the tall shrub at the front corner is a weeping yaupon holly. I have an 8' podocarpus hedge at the back of the property for privacy and don't think I'd like to maintain podocarpus at the height necessary to shade this side of the house. Letting it grow naturally is not an option.

Near the dead palm frond lying at a diagonal, there is a tiny palm seedling which I assume is Sabal palmetto, offsprung from the tree nearby. I will either let it grow in place if it harmonizes with what I eventually plant or will move it somewhere else.

I plan to soon add a good amount of organic matter to amend the sandy soil in this bed.

My best candidate at this point is 3 'Liberty' hollies but I'm not sure I'll live long enough to see them shade the house. I posted in this section to show that I am open to all options, including palms. Wet 8B. Any suggestions?

Edited by Manalto

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Fusca

James, I can sympathize with the performance of the Black Diamond crapes.  Mine have not grown past 6' either after 3 years but I still like it and am leaving mine alone even though it hasn't provided the shade I had hoped for.  Maybe it would do better in all-day full sun. 

I'm not very good with landscape advice, but if you're interested in something fast growing for shade I really like Pittosporum tobira.  For palms I would go with a couple of mules.  They do get really big but I think you could plant them on the outer edge of your mulched area and have minimal fronds brushing up against the house.  I had a strap-leaf seedling grow to 7' (roughly the size of a 7-gal) in 2 years.

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Kailua_Krish

Viburnum chindo awabuki is very attractive and fast growing if you can find them. They can be a bit of a challenge to locate. Another option if you want palms would be Rhapis.

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tropicalplantdude

I would suggest bushing jasmine, hydrangeas, hardy lantanas, hedychium sp, camelia as flowers while colocasia "bikini tini", butia capitata, petasites japonicus, aucuba, needle palms and trachys as palms/foliage accents. Zone 8b allows quite a huge array of plants to work with! 
lastly, could you please tell me what kind of soil u have? Cause some of the plants I listed above don't like clay/alkaline soil

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Merlyn

A lot of suggestions probably depend on your zone.  Is Mobile 8b?  Getting down to 15-20F on a regular basis would rule out a lot of options.  There are some pretty good columnar evergreens that are reasonably fast and coldhardy.  There's also stuff like "Sky Pencil Holly" that should do well.

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Manalto

Yes, as I mentioned in my original post, Mobile is a solid 8B, with ample (~70") rainfall. The first winter I was here (2017-18) the temperature plunged to 17 (I spent the evening under the house with a heat-gun thawing pipes) and remained in the low 20s for three days. This leaky old (1919) house was not ready and neither was this cranky old Yankee. It is, I suspect, the coldest spot on the Gulf.

Thank you for your responses! They are indeed helping me figure out what would work in this spot.  As you can see from my 3 a.m. photo below, I've painted myself into a corner if I want shade on the windows and (dare I ask?) the roof as well because the bed is only 6' wide. The grass area is the pathway,  from front yard to back, its width limited by this big meatball of a camellia.  

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The puzzle is to find a plant that will get tall enough so that it will shade the house without encroaching on the walkway; a vase-shaped tree or shrub would keep the walkway free below. Lagerstroemia is the only option I can think of until something else comes along. (The Black Diamond series just doesn't seem to have the vigor - or the height, even at its best, as I now realize - to achieve the desired result. The afternoon heat at this corner of the house is brutal, so the BDs had to go.)  It's about 12' to the edge of the overhang. A vase-shaped plant that reaches 18-20' would be required if it were to shade the roof. 

The soil in this bed seems depleted. Maybe the rain that comes off the roof has dissolved some of the water-soluble nutrients, although the 'Aji Limo' peppers I grew here this summer did spectacularly well.  The soil is now sandy, but I'm amending with lots of organic matter.

 

[Side note: The asbestos siding on this 1950s addition is scheduled to be replaced in the spring by traditional wooden clapboards. The lumber is curing in my garage as we speak.]

Edited by Manalto

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Chester B

Southern Magnolia “Alta”. It’s a dwarf columnar form of the tree. 

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Manalto
22 hours ago, Chester B said:

Southern Magnolia “Alta”. It’s a dwarf columnar form of the tree. 

Thanks for this. I wasn't aware of the 'Alta' cultivar. It's a strong candidate.

My neighbor has a kumquat that has a columnar habit and just about the right height (fruit is good, too) but he doesn't know the variety. The fruit is larger than a typical kumquat. It's shaped like a small tangerine, slightly fattened. At first I thought it was 'Fukushu' ('Changshou') but now I don't think so; 'Fukushu' is more pear-shaped.

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Manalto

I just came across this Ilex vomitoria cultivar, 'Will Fleming'. It's a male form, so no berries.

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I think it might do the trick, and be a nice, subtle contrast with the weeping yaupon at the front corner (which is loaded with berries at this time of year). Room for underplanting, too.

(photo shamelessly lifted from good old internet)

Edited by Manalto

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