The Q&A Archives: Shrubs For West Side

Question: I live in zone 6. My brick house faces the west and it generates a lot of heat. I have a 30'x6' bed, and I need suggestions for shrubs to plant against the house. I have tried planting wax leaf ligurstrum (they lived through our hot, dry summer, but died in the winter) and greenleaf holly (they died when it got hot and dry).

Answer: A hot west facing wall is a difficult location for many evergreens, so I am not surprised that holly did not do well there. However, to be honest I am surprised that privet died because it is such a hardy, versatile and tough plant. If you want an evergreen there, I would suggest junipers. There are many types to pick from and they are available in a number of shapes/sizes from tall to low and spreading so select one that meets your space requirements. These are exceptionally tough plants and should withstand a western orientation.

Before you plant again though you might want to run some basic soil tests and add any needed amendments based on the results. When you plant, be sure to set the shrubs at the same depth as they grew before and to water them thoroughly at planting. Keep them mulched with several inches of organic mulch but do not allow it to touch the stems or trunk. Finally, pay special attention to watering for the entire first twelve months. The plants should be kept moist but never sopping wet; you may need to dig down and see how the soil is in order to figure out when to water. During the hot summer months this may be once every five days (a deep soaking is better than a daily sprinkling) but in the cooler months it will be less often.

Good luck with your shrubs!

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