Landscape Design forum: Wall of bushes in my front yard

Views: 996, Replies: 8 » Jump to the end

alexpdx214
Sep 24, 2017 11:54 PM CST
Hello,

I'm a first time home owner and have had our home for 2 years now.
The front of our house has a wall of bushes that is elevated on a dirt/mulch mound for privacy (instead of a fence).

One by one, these bushes have been dying away. We've tried watering them more, and they're in a good position for sunlight, but it seems hopeless. I took a trip to Lowes to look into replacing the individual bushes, and they were $50 a piece... that would be a pretty major annual budget for bush replacement.

I'm torn about what to do with these. My immediate thoughts are to either keep replacing the bushes, or build a small 4' fence in place of them. The investment in either case seems substantial and i'd probably have to rent a loader to remove all the mulch/dirt if I wanted to go the fence route.

Any suggestions or ideas? We're really open to anything that will look good and provide some amount of privacy.

Thanks!

Alex
Thumb of 2017-09-25/alexpdx214/21dcbf


Thumb of 2017-09-25/alexpdx214/360cb4


Thumb of 2017-09-25/alexpdx214/a27ad5

Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Roses Zinnias Region: Missouri Cat Lover Dog Lover Bookworm
Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: United States of America Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
pepper23
Sep 25, 2017 6:13 AM CST
You have arborvitaes and they are planted too close together which doesn't allow for air flow. If the air can't flow between each tree then the trees will die. There has to be a minimum of 6 feet between each one for them to thrive and as big as they get I'd say closer to 8 feet between them would be better.

This isn't your fault since you didn't plant them so don't feel bad about anything you are doing or did. For now leave them so you don't loose the dirt but keep an eye on the local stores for bushes being put on clearance. Right now the stores around me are just marking down perennials so that eventually all is left is mums but after that will be the bushes and trees so that they go to new homes before winter.

As for replacements, there are options depending on the route you want to go. If you want to keep with evergreens then you can start over with new arborvitaes but I would only plant 1 tree for every 4 you have.

If you don't mind trying something different then there are boxwoods and yews that can be considered.

For non evergreen, I highly recommend red or yellow twig dogwoods. You get winter interest with the bare stems in winter. Downside is you lose some privacy in the winter time.

alexpdx214
Sep 26, 2017 12:21 AM CST
Thank you so much for the response. Would it be at all worth trying to remove two thirds of them to create that open space for the remaining bushes? Or should I just accept this as a loss and plan on replacing them more thoughtfully?
Sorry if you already answered this, but I just wanted to clarify.
[Last edited by alexpdx214 - Sep 26, 2017 12:22 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1555706 (3)
Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Roses Zinnias Region: Missouri Cat Lover Dog Lover Bookworm
Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: United States of America Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
pepper23
Sep 26, 2017 6:42 AM CST
I only see 2 at this point that look like they can be saved and should thrive once given space. The first one on the far left and the 3rd one on the far left. The rest in that little corner look and see how much brown is really on them. Some look they might be able to be saved. The rest of the row looks dead, even the ones with some green on them. They won't come back. So dig those all out and the ones that look like they have a good chance go ahead and keep but spread out to give them more room.

I wouldn't plant anymore this year and give the ones you have a chance to grow. If they don't make it over the winter then there could be something wrong with the soil and I would recommend a soil test at your nearest extension service.
Name: Archivesgirl
Salisbury, MD (Zone 7b)
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Critters Allowed Region: Maryland Birds
Frogs and Toads
Image
Archivesgirl
Sep 26, 2017 8:02 AM CST
Welcome! Alexpdx214,

I have a few questions. Did you have a harsh winter? Arborvitae can die off from lack of water (burn up), be infected, or over watered. Did you check the soil around these trees to see if they're dry or the trees have any sign of infection on the bark or in the surrounding soil? Arborvitae can be planted close together for a privacy screen. Were they large containers with mature trees that cost $50 at Lowes? Usually Emerald Green Arborvitae are used in privacy plantings (they're thinner and more upright rather than the pyramidal shape of the Thujas).

I think you have to ask yourself what kind of privacy look are you going for - evergreen which could be shrub hedges, dwarf trees, or shrubs. Or, do you want color, i.e., Nandina, Burning Bush, or perhaps large shrubs that flower?

I would suggest looking online (Google) for "front yard privacy hedges" to see a variety of images for ideas.

Of course, you could out some of the Arborvitae at a time and plant a smaller, cheaper size Arborvitae (1 or 3 gallon).

Just thinking out loud and sorry if I rambled.

Again, welcome!

Gayle
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Dec 5, 2017 12:56 PM CST
alexpdx214 said:Thank you so much for the response. Would it be at all worth trying to remove two thirds of them to create that open space for the remaining bushes? Or should I just accept this as a loss and plan on replacing them more thoughtfully?
Sorry if you already answered this, but I just wanted to clarify.

What state are you in?
Remove, at minimum, every other one.
You could put in a double row with the trees staggered which would put space between the trees but still block people from seeing through.
Why are they elevated?
That means the root area will dry out faster than if they were at ground level plus it looks like you have major work maintaining the mulch.

Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
Image
Zuni
Dec 25, 2017 6:03 PM CST
I know fences are expensive. But, if I could afford it, I'd put up a new fence at the sidewalk. It seems weird that so much front yard space was left between the trees and the sidewalk. And it looks like the neighbor's fence is at the sidewalk, so it shouldn't look out of place. Then, you also don't have to do any landscape maintenance on the street side.

Then, I'd seriously consider at least taking out the dead trees. Then, think about how I wanted my new huge private front yard to look, and if any of the healthy trees were wanted.

I wondered at first if someone had trimmed them. Those types of trees can't be pruned past green growth, because they won't grow green growth on old brown growth. People often make this mistake and it's a shame because it's a permanent mistake. But, it looks more likely to be some kind of blight - bugs or they froze or didn't get enough water for too long, at some point.
Name: Laura Bassett
Sonoma CA (Zone 8b)
Image
FromtheGroundUp
Jan 5, 2018 1:30 PM CST
Hi Alex!

Looks like you already have a lot of good advice on this thread. What a problem to inherit in a new home. Unfortunately, someone before you wanted an instant screen and planted these way too close together. We see a lot of this from house flips or quick curb appeal before a sale.

A couple of things to consider when choosing how to move forward:

1) Does your city have any fence height regulation? Here in Sonoma, CA they have limits on heights depending on how close to the road it is. It is worth calling your city hall to ask so that you don't spend time building something only to have to take it out.

2) Hedge planting options. RpR asked which state your in which can help narrow the list of possible plants down. Off the top of my head, I'd suggest English Laurel, Podocarpus or Photinia.

Best of Luck let us know how it turns out!

Laura Bassett
From the Ground Up
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jan 7, 2018 12:03 PM CST
I did not read the other replies. I would not keep replacing them because they clearly are not happy here and just putting in more will not fix your problem-long term.
If it were me, I'd put in some nice white fencing about 3ft tall. It will last a long long time if properly installed and cared for. It will look nice w minimal work once installed. It will create an edging to the yard to look nice, create a boundary, keep sidewalkers from wandering into your yard, ect. Then you can focus on spending time enjoying growing something in your back yard where you probably have more privacy and spend more time anyway.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Landscape Design forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by greenappleagnes and is called "Carpenter Bees and Ginger"