Last week a friend asked me if I could give her some ideas on what to plant in her backyard. She had recently taken out some existing landscaping and now had a mostly blank slate. She had already bought some plants which needed to be incorporated into the overall design (like the fig tree, Green Spire eonymus, and Alphonse Karr bamboo in the first photo below).
Her yard is very small so it was important not to overwhelm it with too many “heavy” plants that make the space smaller or darker.
For plant ideas we made a trip to Lemuria Nursery, a wholesale nursery in nearby Dixon which is open to the public. I had never been there, but our friend loves it and I can see why: extremely friendly folks, low prices, and a decent selection, especially for shrubs and trees.
Here is the layout for the planting strip along the backyard fence after our nursery run:
To give you a better idea of what our friend likes, the next photo shows the side yard that leads into the backyard. Here she has four specimens of her favorite foliage plant: variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’).
|Variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’) in the side yard|
While we were able to come up with a satisfying design for most the yard, two trouble spots remain: one in the back and one in the front next to the front door. I’d love to have your input on what might work well in these areas, taking into account the types of plants we’ve already chosen.
In the next photo you’ll see the problem area in the backyard. It’s a little over 2 ft. wide at its widest and about 12 ft. long. The window is about 2.5 ft. above the ground and whatever is planted here should not obstruct the view in any way. This bed receives 4-5 hours of morning sun in the summer and is in the shade in the afternoon.
Any ideas that spring to mind? Ideally, something with all-season interest as opposed to herbaceous or deciduous. Tropical/exotic-looking would be good, but not required. The plant(s) for this bed have to be small and well-behaved.
|Problem area in backyard|
I think something like this small Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ might look nice. Here’s a quick mockup I created. The yellow variegation contrasts well with the light blue of the house.
|Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ mockup|
The other trouble area is a similar 2 ft. wide strip next to the front door. The window you see is about 3 ft. above ground. This area receives no direct sun but thanks to light reflected by the house next door, the light levels are fairly bright.
I had thought of dwarf oak leaf hydrangea, but even the dwarf forms are too large. Ideally, nothing should overhang the walkway, at least not by much. Again, all-season interest would be preferred, especially since it’s so close to the front door. Even a row of small, well-behaved shrubs might work here.
|Trouble area next to the front door. The narrow width makes it difficult to come up with good choices.|
I can’t wait to see what ideas you might come up with. I will post photos of the finished project later on.