Ask a Question forum: low maintence plant ideas needed, what to choose

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Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Sep 23, 2014 10:56 AM CST
I am in southern California and have this area that is roughly 5'x40'. We want to put something inexpensive & low maintenance. We would like it to be about 6' tall screen hedge type to block the people who walk pass the house daily. We were looking at some tall grass but it says u have to cut it down seasonally. What would you suggest we plant that can be used as a screen? We will b remodeling the whole house and that area probably won't exist any more so I don't want to spend a lot of money for an area that might be torn up in a year or so.

Currently we have the big leaf ivy which isn't doing too well since our inexperience gardener hacked the dead leaves with his weed wacker. He is no longer allow to use his weed wacker here. Ever since it hasn't grown back and some areas taking months and months to grow a leaf or two along with weeds. I couldn't find the same ivy plants at home depot to add more to the ground covering.

Any suggestions on cheap and easy, I mean affordable and low maintenance?

Thank you!!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 23, 2014 11:06 AM CST
Hi, and welcome to ATP Welcome! Hope we can help you out with this, but first we need a little bit more info. Pictures of the area would be a big help.

What side of the house is this area on eg. if it is the West side of the house it will get hot, blazing sun all afternoon, South side will be sunny all day, north side will be mostly shaded and East gets morning sun. This will affect what kind of plants you can put there and be successful.

Also, do you have the ability to water a long row of new plants every day when they are first planted? As they get established and put on new growth, you will be able to taper off watering, but even if a plant says it is 'drought tolerant' you still must water it until it makes a good big, healthy root system.

If you are sure you're going to tear up the plantings in a year anyway, you could start seeds of something really fast growing like maybe sunflowers. That would be very inexpensive, pretty, drought tolerant, and the only thing you'd have to do for them is maybe string a support between stakes to keep them from leaning out over the sidewalk, or area where the people walk by. Sunflowers would obviously need sun!

A planting 40ft. long of perennial plants or shrubs is going to cost you quite a bit, and probably will not grow fast enough to make the screen you are looking for. Maybe a combination of tall annuals that will grow fast, and some larger perennials or shrubs to fill in as the annuals finish.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 23, 2014 11:40 AM CST
Can you grow morning glories? many of those are fast-growing vines that will cover a trellis or poles very rapidly. These are "Star of Yelta" and would have made a 10-foot-tall wall if I had made a taller trellis for them to climb on.

But some MGs are very invasive in some regions, they say! Mine never came back despite producing POUNDS of seeds. Mostly, the seeds rotted from fall rains, I think. Also, I turned that bed the next time I planted anything there. But some people talk about MG being very invasive.


Thumb of 2014-09-23/RickCorey/c6f0e3 Thumb of 2014-09-23/RickCorey/93c31b Thumb of 2014-09-23/RickCorey/9a33ca

Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Sep 23, 2014 11:55 AM CST
A Florida native, Clusia guttifera (or C. rosea), is being used a lot for hedges these days. They are salt tolerant and don't require too much water once established.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Sep 23, 2014 1:21 PM CST
Morning glories certainly do grow quickly and are very pretty. Is there an existing fence of some sort that annual vines could grow on? As Elaine mentioned, photos would be helpful.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Sep 24, 2014 10:18 AM CST
Sorry I was sleeping at the wheel.

The photos were taken this morning around 8:45 AM so you can see the shade for the morning. The sun raises on the other side of the house. This area faces South West, a lot of sun and some moisture from the ocean several streets (buildings) away.

It has automatic sprinklers that are high up, you can see the black pipe coming up from the ground from the split rail fence.

You can see the path on the other side of the split rails, tons of people use this path so I don't want to see them walking by thus wanting a screen. First photo you see a red line, that's the section and that's how high I would like it to be. As you can see the next door property does not have any dividers or wall to keep the dirt separated.

YES, it's a very sad area ;( I was going to mulch it and be done with it but really would like to hide the people as well.

Thank you!!

Link to more of the same area--
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/j0k2lqmht8mhvfm/AACH1l_xkk-XVaOZT...
Thumb of 2014-09-24/moderncat/bd6934


Thumb of 2014-09-24/moderncat/2f472e


Thumb of 2014-09-24/moderncat/164836

[Last edited by moderncat - Sep 24, 2014 10:46 AM (+)]
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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Sep 24, 2014 10:39 AM CST
I agree that does need help. Blinking Maybe plant something high along the wall, and then choose a groundcover type for the front. Would you consider Agave or another type of succulent, seeing as they tend to thrive in your area? I would think Foxtail Agave would be very nice there, maybe with some rock in between?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 24, 2014 11:04 AM CST
Hm, couple of ideas inspired by your pictures. Would anyone object if you fastened some cedar lattice on the wall? You could attach it to that blue railing on top of the wall and give your ivy some more place to climb. That would be by far the fastest, cheapest screen solution.

When you do renovate, how do you mean that area 'won't exist'? Will you be allowed to move the wall out to right beside the path then? Surely the building codes won't allow you to build an addition out to the path? So will you have an enclosed garden inside the wall, or a patio? You'll still need tall screening plants, I would think.

Reason I'm asking this is because you could 'invest' in some small trees with the intent to grow them in large pots along the path, then move them when your remodeling happens. Something like short palms or even clumping bamboo? If you're worried about the pots 'disappearing' you could chain or cable them to the posts of the little wood fence there. But if the pots are large enough, they'd be too heavy to move easily anyway.

A really fast-growing plant for a quick screen would be Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia diversifolia. If I needed a quick screen this would be my first choice. It grows easily from cuttings, and will get up there to 6 or 8ft. very quickly. If you keep it watered, you will need to cut it to keep it at the height you want, but "cut" is a relative term, because you can just break off the tops of the tall growth by hand. Easy, quick, cheap, and it blooms spring and fall here, so it's really pretty as well. Find someone with a plant and ask for cuttings. Root them in water and you're off!

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Sep 24, 2014 11:59 AM CST
Wow, Elaine! That Mexican Sunflower looks like just the thing! I may try that for a couple of places around here myself.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Sep 24, 2014 12:30 PM CST
the area will be trampled on by workers, no water source will be turned on, wall will be removed and redone etc. After it's done (year plus later) then do something really nice :)
Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
Image
moderncat
Sep 24, 2014 1:26 PM CST
Thank you everyone, so after reading everyone's advice I thought I would first try dyzzypyxxy advice that gave me the idea. I am not so keen about installing lattice BUT to stretch wire as a lattice. So I will add short poles to the existing rail to get it to 6' from the ground. Secure, then get wire and attach to each pole making something for the ivy to climb on. I will fertilize the area to give some nutrients for fast growing or encouragement for the existing ivy to grow faster and healthier and add new spots of ivy plants where needed. Yeah it needs a lot of help. Any advice on fertilizer for the ivy? I heard 10-10-10 would work?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 24, 2014 2:17 PM CST
It really is an awesome plant, woofie, but would be an annual for you, I'd imagine. Still if you overwintered cuttings indoors, and started them in ground in May you'd have some very tall plants by the end of summer for sure.

Ever been to Christina Lake, BC? I was born in Trail, BC and spent every summer at Christina until I was 13. Very pretty area.

As to fertilizer for ivy, since it is just a foliage plant you could use any good timed-release lawn fert with a high first number (nitrogen). Lawn fert is quite a bit less expensive than others.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Sep 24, 2014 2:21 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Sep 24, 2014 6:58 PM CST
Welcome, Moderncat. I like the idea of Mexican sunflower suggested above - sounds like it would fill in quickly, be nice and tall, and would likely muffle trail conversations as well. It would certainly be stunning to have that whole area a mass of yellow.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Sep 25, 2014 9:56 AM CST
Bonehead said:Welcome, Moderncat. I like the idea of Mexican sunflower suggested above - sounds like it would fill in quickly, be nice and tall, and would likely muffle trail conversations as well. It would certainly be stunning to have that whole area a mass of yellow.


yes it seems the Mexican sunflower will grow in weeks. People seem to like it here. I did a little research and it seems to grow quite quickly. I assume it would be good ground and up the wall to the height if I support it. Do you think I can just add it to what is there or would I have to clean out the ivy?

thanks again everyone!!

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 25, 2014 11:01 AM CST
I'm sure you can just add it to what's there. It will out-compete most things in my garden for space. Once it gets going it will offer your ivy some shade, which will help it to get going better, too.

It shouldn't need any support, just plant it near the wall, not too near the pathway or it will reach out and poke people going by and you'll have to be out there policing it all the time. It's pretty and makes nice cut flowers so if you do have to break off a branch or two, take them in with you. The big stems will grow roots in a week, and you can add to the 'hedge' with cuttings as you go, too.

I'd envision sort of an espalier effect, where you prune off any branches growing towards the path or the wall and just let it grow sideways and up.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Sep 25, 2014 11:33 AM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:I'm sure you can just add it to what's there. It will out-compete most things in my garden for space. Once it gets going it will offer your ivy some shade, which will help it to get going better, too.


I did some research on the Mexican sunflower and it says it grows like weeds (that's a plus) but it also says the seeds will spread with wind, birds etc. It gets pretty windy here at times and I think because the MS is not a native to California I am scared that this "weed" might spread to places that would harm the environment. I.E. spread to neighbors gardens and to the natural native California plants protected area which is on the other side of the split rails.

What are your thoughts Thank You!

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 25, 2014 12:24 PM CST
It's not classed as an invasive weed here in Florida. Check online for your invasives, as it's different in CA. The birds eat the seeds here, and I honestly have only had it spread by cuttings, and if a stem gets damaged, and touches the ground sometimes it will root itself. Never had seedlings show up.

Here's the contact page for your LA County Extension people. http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/about/contact/ Scroll down the page and under "Environmental Horticulture" they have several people including phone numbers and e-mail addresses. You could contact one or all of them and ask if this plant is an invasive or if it's ok to plant where you are.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Sep 25, 2014 2:01 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:It's not classed as an invasive weed here in Florida. Check online for your invasives, as it's different in CA. The birds eat the seeds here, and I honestly have only had it spread by cuttings, and if a stem gets damaged, and touches the ground sometimes it will root itself. Never had seedlings show up.

Here's the contact page for your LA County Extension people. http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/about/contact/ Scroll down the page and under "Environmental Horticulture" they have several people including phone numbers and e-mail addresses. You could contact one or all of them and ask if this plant is an invasive or if it's ok to plant where you are.


Awesome, thank you!! Smiling I will check that out.

Name: moderncat
los angeles, ca
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moderncat
Nov 5, 2014 10:13 AM CST
No response from the city. I think I will just add more vines to the area. Thank you everyone for all your help. When we are ready to change the area and spend some money I have reference

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