Density Of "dawn Chorus" Azalea - Knowledgebase Question

Milwaukee, WI
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Question by mpieroni
September 19, 2002
I recently bought and planted a "Dawn Chorus" azalea and planted it near the house in a corner as an accent plant. On two sides it is sheltered by the house and a solid wooden fence. There is space for it to grow to maturity and still be a foot away from the wooden structures.

I am learning in a landscaping design class that one should not plant dense shrubs near the house if the house is wooden or the wood could rot. (Dead air space).

I am wondering if the placement of the shrub is okay where it is (I don't know the density of the azaela), or if I should move it. If so, how long should I wait? It will be winter soon and I just planted it 3-4 weeks ago.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

Answer from NGA
September 19, 2002
Azaleas as a group tend to be more airy, especially if grown in shadier locations. They are often used successfully as foundation shrubs. The "dense shrubs" to my mind would be plants such as toghtly clipped yew, or naturally tight growing juniper, that are so dense that air really does not penetrate the interior of plant.

In any case, foundation plants need to be planted far enough away from the building that they receive rain at the roots. The plants will also tend to grow somewhat lopsided in that they reach toward the light and do not grow as much on the building side. Then, too, routine home maintenance usually includes periodically trimming the plants on the back (building side) for access for caulking, painting and so on.

So I am not certain this is an issue of such broad concern, with the exception of locations where the building is placed in a poorly ventilated site. By that I mean in a low spot where moist damp air tends to accumulate naturally, or in a location in the woods for example where breezes and sunshine do not reach the building and so the air is generally somewhat humid and stagnant. In my experience, these are locations where algae would tend to grow on the building with or without the barrier of shrubs.

I suppose it is a matter of opinion as to where this would or would not be a potential problem. When the wood is well maintained and properly sealed against moisture, a normal planting should not cause damage except possibly in a stagnant situation as described above. In any case, I would not consider azaleas to be particularly dense.

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