The Q&A Archives: Conifers Next To House

Question: I am planning on redoing a planting bed on the east side of my house. The bed is right next to the garage wall. I would like to plant 1 to 3 conifers in this bed and finish with a mix of shrubs, grasses and perennials. The strip is about 20 ft. by 5 ft. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Redesigning a garden is always lots of fun! Begin by amending the soil with organic matter to ensure good drainage and provide nutrients to the roots of your plants.

Based on the dimensions you've provided, I'd choose dwarf Alberta spruce, Leyland cypress or Mugo pine for the conifers. They won't grow too tall for the area and will make a nice backdrop for the perennials you choose. For a really abundant look, work from back to front, starting with the tallest plants. In a sunny garden, paeonia (peonies), will grow from 18 inches to 3 1/2 feet tall, depending on variety. The flowers are from 3 to 5 inches wide and appear from mid to late spring into the early summer; the rest of the season you?ll enjoy their handsome foliage.

Echinacea (coneflowers) reach 2 feet in height and have long-lasting purple to deep pink flowers. Achillea (yarrow) are hardy plants, with 3 inch flowers in the Moonshine variety, rosy red if you choose the Fire King, or double white blooms with the Pearl type.

Campanula (bellflowers) range from dwarf to 3 feet in height. In a rich, well-drained soil, it will produce blue to lavender blooms the whole summer and well into the fall.

You?re probably familiar with chrysanthemum, wonderful cutting flowers that grow from 1 to 2 feet tall. There?s a huge variety to choose from...Oxeye, Shasta, Moon, or Marguerite.

Marigolds (calendula officinalis) are actually an annual but will re-seed themselves every year. They provide a spicy-smelling, 18 to 24 inch mound of yellow-orange color.

Daylilies (hemerocallis)can be found in yellow, orange, white, red, pale salmon, and nearly pink. They?re a very easy plant and will provide lots of dividends when you divide the clumps at the end of the summer.

Salvia, a foliage plant with spikes of violet-blue, will add a beautiful silver, purple or red tint to your garden. The sage variety will also provide an lovely smoky aroma.

You?ll need some low-growing, spreading plants for the border. Alyssum, with yellow flowers, or anemones (which will do well in sun to partial shade), that range from spring to fall blooming single to double blossoms, dark blue to pink to white, will finish off your sunny perennial garden nicely.

Enjoy your new garden!

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