The Q&A Archives: Non-invasive Shrub Suggestion?

Question: We have an oil tank buried near the house in our front yard. Currently there are two awful-looking rhododendrons and two over-pruned evergreen shrubs planted over the tank. All four are around three feet in diameter. I'd like to replace all four with healthier, more attractive shurbs. Can you recommend some relatively low-maintenance shrubs that won't try to invade the oil tank? I'm unsure how deep it's buried. Would hydrangea work? The area receives full to part-sun.

Answer: It is usually not a good idea to dig in the area of underground utilities. If you do any digging at all please be extremely careful. The rhododendrons are very shallow rooted and might actually be a good choice for that very reason, as would Japanese Andromeda (Pieris). You might be able to remove the overpruned evergreens and then prune the existing rhododendrons back and shape them so they look a bit better and then face them with several smaller growing azaleas which are also shallow rooted. This would spruce things up without requiring excess digging. You could also consider using a raised bed planting area, and this would increase your plant choice dramatically. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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