Thursday, November 10, 2016

Standing Tall

Why use tall plants around your yard? 
  •      Plants at the back of a garden bed increases layering and structure.
  •      Block out an unattractive feature.
  •      Buffer noise.
  •      Provide shade.
  •      Increase privacy and security.

Eupatorium standing to the left of the stump
is about 7 foot tall.
Layering, by putting tall plants at the back of a bed, gives continuous texture and color.  Layering with plants that bloom at different times of the year provides continuous attraction.

Combined with structural hard scapes (fencing, trellis and etc.) tall plants hide a wealth of unsightly or annoying issues.  A tall privacy or safety fence can be rather stark.  Add climbing or tall plants and it becomes an asset.   

Without hardscapes, try tall thin plants at the back such Juniper bush “Sky Rocket.”  By using thin evergreens, another layer of plants can go in front of them to soften.

Delphiniums, Foxglove, Hollyhock, ornamental grasses, milkweed and Oriental Lilies are a few tall perennials for sunny locations.  Try some of the huge tall Hosta for shade.

Annual morning glory on a
clothesline support.
Thick plants work best for noise buffering.  Evergreens especially do well all year but if summer is your only concern then heavy leafed tall bushes work.  Using layers provides a denser buffer. 

Shade plantings can be tricky.  Put some thought into it before you buy and plant.  Evergreens are slow growing and block breezes.  If they are planted close to a patio you may not get the shade you want nor the cooling you need.  On the flip side if wind is so strong you can’t put a paper plate down then dense evergreens are good.  A deciduous (loses leaves yearly) tree should not be planted close enough to structures or patios that the roots will cause problems.  When mature they will provide great shade but make sure they don’t have fruits, nuts, pods, sticky sap or thorns that will cause constant upkeep.  Large amounts of shade will limit other plantings to those that can survive without much sun.

 Plants used for privacy have the same issues as all of the above but they are a wonderful solution if you want some space between you and what’s outside your borders.  The old joke “fences makes good neighbors” is pretty much true unless you don’t maintain your borders and that’s another issue. 

Annual sunflowers hiding my vegetables.
There are quite a few tall annuals that will provide bright color all summer:  Cleome, Castor Oil Beans, sunflowers, salvia, Nicotiana and many quick growing vines.

The Victorians used to have round flower beds with tall plants in the middle and layered by height to the edges.  It is really quite beautiful and structured.

Another solution is to have a structure or posts for hanging pots.  It requires more watering but it can add height especially if the plant vine down and you have several. 

Another option for tall is potted plants.  One of my favorites is the wonderfully fragrant Brugmansia.  Potted plants (including evergreens) can be moved as the sun changes position throughout the summer.

Large gardens, small gardens, patios, balconies and roof tops can all benefit from tall plants.  Consider them in your future designs.

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