The Q&A Archives: Skyrocket Juniper Vs. Medora Juniper Vs. Italian Cyprus

Question: I have a west facing townhouse with a narrow (about 2 feet) stretch of land between my driveway and the next townhouse's driveway. I would like to plant something narrow and tall in this space to create some vertical interest. The medora juniper that you show on your web page seemed like a good choice (particularly since it was slow growing) but when I called to order one, the landscaper did not think it would be a good choice because he could only get them in 10 gallon containers and thought that that would be too much (I don't want a topiary one). He recommended an Italian Cyprus but that is very fast growing. Another landscaper recommended a skyrocket juniper but that is fast growing as well and I would really like something that would stay small, tall and thin. What would you suggest?

Answer: Skyrocket is narrow yet tall and will reach a height of 15 feet or more, so it does not meet the criteria you have set out. Medora is also narrow and would be about that height ultimately as well. Both of these are J. scopulorum varieties and would grow about a foot or so taller each year. To some extent your choice would depend on the time frame you are looking at or plan to be in your home and the size of plant you purchase. The Italian Cypress is hardy to only 0 to 10 degrees F, USDA zone 7 and should be fine in a sheltered location in your area, however it too is ultimately tall and a faster growing plant than the junipers you named. Note too that all of these plants require not only full sun but also a relatively well drained soil.

In my experience, it is difficult to plant an area between two driveways so close together, for several reasons. Road salt, car doors and passengers, delivery trucks, loose dogs and shoveled snow tend to trample the area. Also,in many cases, the utility lines are under that strip and care must be taken not to damage them, along with some provision being made for their ultimate maintenance (ie digging). There may also be covenants that dictate what may and may not be planted/installed in that area. For these reasons you may not want to invest in the more expensive evergreen plantings.

Instead, you might consider a decorative fence or trellis panel or sculptural piece with its look softened with a vine such as Hedera helix (the evergreen English ivy), a flowering vine such as fall blooming clematis, or perhaps one of the newer roses if you are not concerned about thorns in that area. This will allow you full control over the ultimate height and width of the planting from the start. Another alternative might be a mural type panel or similar ruse to provide height without relying on plant material at all.

I hope this gives you some ideas to consider. Good luck with your new landscaping!

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