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Advice On Hardy & Low-Maintenance Plants

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Advice On Hardy & Low-Maintenance Plants

Postby JTW » Jan 21, 2014 5:44 pm

Hello folks,

This is my first post here and I am really hoping somebody may be able to help me out.

My wife and I built the house we live in just over two years ago and just last year I started gardening for the first time. It started with the lawn, then the Princeton Maple and Mountain Ash in the front yard, and several Spirea and lilac shrubs of differing variety were soon to follow. I'm amazed at how much I actually enjoy the work but my full time work schedule and busy life have put some constraints on the type of plants I can grow... I don't mind taking care of what I plant but I just don't have the time for a hectic maintenance schedule and plants that need an abundance of TLC, especially considering my environment.

My wife is a hair stylist and works from home. We have a long driveway that goes down the side of our house to a small parking area the back. Our driveway is above our neighbor's yard on that side and there is a slope between our two properties. Late last year I did some planting on the slope and along our foundation to liven it up and make it look nice.

Near the front of our driveway the slope is very gentle. I planted 5 juniper shrubs in a row there. I cannot recall the exact variety but they are a low horizontal type used typically for ground cover. The slope near the middle of the driveway is more steep, here I planted a row of Rockspray Cotoneaster. Near the back of the driveway I planted some Colorado Spruce trees to eventually afford some privacy from my neighbors back yard.

So now I get to my questions, haha. The Junipers have all turned brown from the outside tips which quickly worked itself through most of the entire plant. I did care for them as directed and they are in a well drained area. From what I can gather it looks like phomopsis blight. Also, this occurred relatively soon after I covered most of the slope in wood mulch I purchased loose and in bulk from a local nursery. So I am thinking of digging them up in the spring and replacing them but I would like opinions on what I should use. I live near St. John's in Newfoundland and we have moderate Winters, usually. The area is exposed to wind, sometimes a lot, full sun, and will get a fair amount of snow as it is along the driveway and we need to get plowed. I was considering planting Norwegian Spruces trees as a lot of the area was pretty much cleared of trees when most of the construction happened. I think adding some fast growing evergreens would be nice for the area, but would this be a bad idea for any reason?? Any other suggestions appreciated!

Also, we had a particularly rough December this past year with very unseasonably cold temperatures and snow accumulation. Things have normalized now, but drifting snow in the front of our house has cracked several of our Spirea branches. Are damaged plants an inevitability or is there something I could do to help prevent that? Can they be fixed or cared for or is it easier to replace them is the damage is to severe?

Thank you so much to anybody who takes the time to read this. Any suggestions about the driveway, winter damage, or anything is greatly appreciated. I'm hopeful I'll get some great advice here and learn a lot!
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JTW
 
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Re: Advice On Hardy & Low-Maintenance Plants

Postby Ian66 » Jan 22, 2014 9:55 am

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that phomopsis blight was the cause of the plant dying without getting it professionally diagnosed......If it was newly planted, it was more likely lack of adequate watering......all newly planted trees or shrubs must be kept moist until they become established.....this usually takes a season or two......
Being on a well drained slope, I would recommend that you plant drought tolerant trees or shrubs.....Spruce like wet feet, so my recommendation would be pines or junipers.
As for your spireas, they are very forgiving when hard pruning is required to rectify broken or damaged stems.......these shrubs are fast growing and will recover quickly in a season.

The most important aspect of gardening to make it more successful is 1. Good soil. 2. Selecting the right plant for your situation. 3. Adequate watering until the plant is established (never let the root ball dry out).

Hope this helps
Ian
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Re: Advice On Hardy & Low-Maintenance Plants

Postby JTW » Jan 23, 2014 2:38 pm

Thanks so much for the advice Ian.

I took a closer look at the Spirea and most of the branches are ok but I will cut the damaged ones back while they are dormant. Do you think tieing them up next winter would be a good idea?

As for my brown junipers, I didn't even consider lack of water because I thought I had watered them plenty, but perhaps I am wrong about that. If that was the cause, could I expect the color to return with adequate watering? I find I have a tendancy to over-water so this would be a first for me and a great lesson learned.
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Re: Advice On Hardy & Low-Maintenance Plants

Postby Ian66 » Jan 24, 2014 10:27 am

It wouldn't hurt tying your spirea with some twine....wet snow or freezing rain can damage trees and shrubs.....
I need a pic of the damage to the junipers, but they may recover, once they become established.
Watering or over watering is always an issue with plants.....only you can decide what is required depending on how your soil retains moisture.....if your soil have good drainage, especially on a slope, you will find that the plants require more water than a plant planted on level ground in heavy soil.....also, some plants require more waterdepending on the species, such as cedar, willows, dogwoods etc.

Hope this helps
Ian
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