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Help! I'm on the landscape committee!

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karla blog photos
Joined: 8/20/2007
Location: Sandy UT
Posts: 5
Posted: Aug/21/2007 10:13 PM PST

Hi all. I need help, advice, experience...I live in a semi-arid suburb, in a condo. (zone 5) We need to upgrade our landscaping, and in a fit of civic-mindedness, I volunteered to help on the landscaping committee. We are removing some delapidated evergreens and viburnum shrubs. We need to completely replace an area about 120 feet long and 5 feet deep. We want to use green santolina as our backdrop; intersperse sage, lavender, tall grasses, grey santolina as our middle bank, and use ice plant, dwarf aster and thyme varieties as our edge and ground cover.
Has anyone used Santolina in an application of this sort? Will it retain its mounded appearance or become shaggy and hedgey? Will it withstand reflected heat, since it will be alongside a concrete and stucco wall? Is it long lived, or will we have to replace it soon?
What about the rest of the plants? Are they compatible with each other? Not too thirsty? Able to take full southern exposure? In winter they will also be under snow for various lengths of time.
Does anyone have another idea for this setting?
Thanks so much!
New member, Karla
mbvirtue blog photos
Joined: 3/01/2006
Location: McFarland (Madison), Wisconsin
Posts: 4582
Posted: Aug/22/2007 4:56 AM PST

Welcome to GG from WI, karla! Sounds like your work's cut out for you...I did the same thing in FL when we lived in a condo down there. I wanted to welcome you, and let you know there are folks who know a whole lot more than I who will probably be by shortly. If possible, can you post pics?
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Posts: 19587
Posted: Aug/22/2007 7:13 AM PST

Hi Karla, and welcome! I feel your panic! I'm in zone 8 in the PNW and have no idea what santolina is, but I have some experience with a few of the plants you're thinking of. I would also consider what the winter garden will look like after the perennials are done. Lavender is lovely in the summer and evergreen in the winter, though as a winter plant it only functions to give form in the garden. I'm not sure which type of sage you are considering, but salvia is a perennial so you'd have nothing in the winter. Thyme is a versatile plant and evergreen. Sedums are a care-free plant too and gives you fall color.

Heather is an evergreen shrub and a few are hardy in your zone. Some have gorgeous winter color and bloom late winter. Others bloom in summer or fall. Heaths and Heathers Nursery in Washington state is a good source. They'll recommend hardy ones for you, though their catalog says not to plant in fall in zones 4 and 5.

Lavender, thyme, and sedum like it on the dry side ONCE ESTABLISHED, so keep them watered so the soil never dries out completely for the first summer or two! And sedums are indestructible!
karla blog photos
Joined: 8/20/2007
Location: Sandy UT
Posts: 5
Posted: Aug/27/2007 4:55 PM PST

Thanks, so much! Sedum does do well here, and thyme is what I use instead of grass in my garden path... I'll keep an eye out for heather and lavender sold locally; I'm told it has a much better chance that way, but the online catalog will be helpful, too. We probably won't plant much till spring, but we are doing the removal and soil amendments now and into fall. I've noted your suggestions in my thickening binder. Again, thanks for your quick response and good suggestions.
karla blog photos
Joined: 8/20/2007
Location: Sandy UT
Posts: 5
Posted: Aug/28/2007 9:46 PM PST

TO MBVIRTUE: Thanks for your support; I've posted pics: my orchids....not easy to keep happy in the desert, ya know.
bensmom98 blog photos
Joined: 7/26/2006
Location: Lake Champlain Valley
Posts: 9121
Posted: Sep/09/2007 5:35 AM PST

Hi there and welcome. I can't imagine it is easy to keep much happy in the desert (well maybe except for cacti and tumbleweeds!).
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