600sq. Foot Terrace - Knowledgebase Question

Bronxville, Ne
Avatar for jg99
Question by jg99
April 12, 2005
Hi. My husband and I have just moved to an apartment in NYC w/ a 600 square foot terrace. We would appreciate any info on perimeter plants to screen from neighbors, plants which will be low maintenance throughout the year, and any suggestions for supplemental plants for color, smell, etc. We have a bamboo plant (unknown spp.); we are leaning towards spruces, cottoneaster, juniper, euonymous, some herbs, lavender, tomato plants. HELP!

Answer from NGA
April 12, 2005
Planting a terrace can be a challenge due to wind conditions (wind is very hard on plants, it dries them out in summer and both dries and chills them in winter). You will also need to determine which way it faces and if it is sunny or shady and at what time of day. (The plants you named all do best with at least a half a day of full sun or more.) Next you would need to decide where you need height in your scheme, where you want color. You also need to figure out if weight is a concern if this is not the ground floor. Then you would be able to start selecting plants based on the above information. Although the palnts you mentioned are normally hardy in your zone, the stress of being in a container plus the lack of winter insulation at the roots can combine to stress them severely so that often they do not survive the winters. Of the ones you listed, junipers would probably be the most reliable in terms of winter survival. Yews and English ivy might also be good choices. (You see many arborvitae and dwarf Alberta spruces in containers in the city however most are routinely replaced each spring.) Perennial herbs such as thyme and mint might also do well. Annuals such as basil and tomatoes should do well as long as you can use generous sized containers and keep them watered in the heat of summer. If you have gardening neighbors with a very similar exposure then you may be able to learn from their experience as to what does well in that location -- otherwise you will probably have to experiment and see what works best for you. Your local nursery staff may also have suggestions. Enjoy your terrace!

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