North facing planter
lindaedi
January 12, 2014 in Design Dilemma
I would like ideas on what to plant in these two narrow planters that are North facing and in coastal Southern California. I've torn out a huge bougainvillea bush that just kept being trimmed...no color... and found some termite damage, and now the stucco has been repaired. I'm not crazy about the structure itself but with the right plantings I think it can make me live with it!
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Affordable Quality Lighting
You could go with flowering aloe plants and succulents. They are low maintenance and very common in Southern California landscaping.

This home has a narrow strip of succulents and dark oval shaped rocks. Silver Strand Beach House

Here is another example of using colorful shrubberies to fill a narrow planter, while creating visual interest with varying heights. 16 Street Santa Monica They use phormium hybrids for the maroon shrubbery and agave attenuata for the lower green aloe looking plants.

If you went with high/low shrubberies I'd use red bark ground cover instead of oval grey stones. It makes the green pop, home depot has some great red pine bark which would look very nice next to the aloe plants. http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/202287026#.UtMMhmRdURA. Incorporate three to four mini bollards amongst the planter for great evening lighting. Lighting is a nice touch, and will enhance your curb appeal. I'd recommend these http://www.affordablequalitylighting.com/outdoor-lighting/garden-landscape-lights/post-bollard-lights/mini-bollard-light-pmbra-blk/ because they illuminate the area without drawing attention to the fixture. Definitely repaint your stucco to remedy those worn down areas. A surface coat will improve the look of the planter boxes, which will make the walk up to your home feel much better.
January 12, 2014 at 1:51pm     
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ASVInteriors
I love the assymetrical and tangental branches of a crepe myrtle which produces lovely flowers and interesting branching. I would plant ornamental grasses like fescues or mexican feather grass below to add some movement and fountain over the planter to break up its lines for visual interest
January 12, 2014 at 2:10pm     
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lindaedi
I think the mix of colors is beautiful and thank you for the photos to see what it looks like, AQL. If I were to go to the 16 street photo of the front wall in the lower tier, should I go with the same or something with a bit more height in the second tier. I do want to paint over the new and old stucco first before I plant but I can't stomach the current color of the house so I'm going to try another color that will unify the planter and not clash too much with the house color! I refuse to paint with a color I don't like.....
January 12, 2014 at 2:27pm     
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lindaedi
also....lighting is definitely on my wish list....just need to start with the basics!
January 12, 2014 at 2:31pm   
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Affordable Quality Lighting
Completely understandable, what color are you thinking for the house? A nice cream or are you looking to add color? For the second tier I'd go with foliage with height, maybe Bird of Paradise or Cymbidiums. The orchid species isn't as easy to care for as the Bird of Paradise but they are beautiful!
January 12, 2014 at 4:19pm   
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lindaedi
I'm looking at a gray/taupe-y color by gladden called Wood Smoke. So I think the colors would totally pop against it. including green. While I love Bird of Paradise, I grew up with them and sometimes they look ratty. Maybe we just didn't care for them enough so I have mixed feelings about them.....Anything along those lines???
January 13, 2014 at 11:19am   
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Red Berm
So if you don't like the planter remove it. You are going to be painting and it's not that expensive to have someone demo and patch. Right now you have few options for that small of a space. Like the two below but if you remove it you will have many more options.
January 13, 2014 at 1:37pm     
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lindaedi
Hmmmmm Red Berm, Ideas with out the planters???
January 13, 2014 at 3:17pm   
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Red Berm
Actually it's a little hard to say without seeing more of the space. I'm a landscape designer and I'm located in southern ca (LA) area so if you would like me to come out and take a look please give me a call. Depending on the area I know contractors that might be able to do the work for you. (323) 206-1595
January 13, 2014 at 6:52pm   
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okdokegal
Red Berm, how do you get the foxtail fern to look like that? Every one I've ever adopted puts new fronds and fluffs out into an asparagus fern looking plant!
January 13, 2014 at 6:58pm   
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Red Berm
okdokegal - Not totally sure I understand your question but you probably have an asparagus sprengeri instead of a asparagus densiflorus myers. The sprengeri photo is attached the myers photo is above.
January 13, 2014 at 8:33pm   
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Affordable Quality Lighting
I love Red Berm's idea of removing the stucco planters and would be very interested to see the replacement ideas. Looking at the two photos you have, it looks like the wall separating your lawn from you planters is really high and blocks the view of your door from the street. I wonder, if you remove the planters if you could create a really appealing dual stairway leading towards a path. Do you have pictures with wider angles so we can see the view from the curb?

I like how this stairway feels very welcoming from the path Twin Cities MN and this one has a unique way of using a very wide stair case Deck Ideas that Work!. You could probably do something like that. Instead of having the porch with a high railing, remove it and the stucco planters for a wide simple step. Then you could use sweet flowers to accent your walkway.
January 14, 2014 at 9:50am      Thanked by lindaedi
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lindaedi
That does sound beautiful! We do have a raise foundation and are fairly close to the city sidewalk. Grassy patch is about 3 feet from the end of the current planter to sidewalk. I'll take a wider angle shot in the morning
January 14, 2014 at 5:40pm     
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lindaedi
Here goes. Right on top of the curb with a raised foundation.
January 15, 2014 at 5:17pm   
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Affordable Quality Lighting
I would go with a "T" deck similar to Twin cities. I'd use Trex http://www.trex.com/ deck products for durability and build an open deck with shorter more open railings. With the raised foundation your deck could provide a fabulous storage area. I'd use a nice skirt all the way around to cover the underside of the deck to facilitate the storage area. The pathway leading to your stairs right now could lead to the storage door and you could put your bike and gardening tools underneath your deck. I'd center the stairway with your front door and extend the width past it to the left and right about 1 or 2 inches. Only have about 3 to 4 stairs and then use small cobblestones from your stairs to the straight sidewalk. A little grass growing between the cobblestone pathway would look really sweet. Then on each side of the "T" deck you'll have a quaint gardening area to lead up to your stairs. Similar to this deck, but different wood coloring


I think opening up your deck will increase your curb appeal tremendously. I know lighting is in the future plans, but if you do alter the deck and create a nice set of stairs centered with your doorway, I'd place a small step light http://www.affordablequalitylighting.com/outdoor-lighting/step-deck-lights/recessed-flush-mount/step-light-prlc-hl-dv/ on each step for safety. Happy renovating!
January 16, 2014 at 10:09am     
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okdokegal
@ Red Berm, no I am quite certain; I have bought ferns labeled "Foxtail Fern" and look like the first picture in your first post.

When they proceed to make more fronds however, they look more like the asparagus fern you posted later.

It is driving me crazy as I am on my fifth plant, all have done the same thing! On #4, a friend and I bought from the same place, the same display, and the plants looked IDENTICAL and were tagged the same, but mine bushed out. Hers is lovely, large and tight fronded. #5 is also bushing right out. Instead of 2-3" wide fairly compact nice green tubelike fronds, I'm getting 6-8" loose fronds. From the same plant. I'll try to get a picture tomorrow of the plant. I love the look of the nice tight fronds and all I get is airy loose stuff!
January 16, 2014 at 8:26pm   
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mcbriec
I am betting that you are getting a different growth pattern because your plant is in more shade. The asparagus fern grows tight with a good bit of sun and medium/low water. Give it shade and it gets much more amorphous, and much less attractive IMO. All of the recommendations are for plants suited for more sun.

Some succulents do well in shade. Aloe saponaria does quite well in shade, but is not going to give you any height which would seem to be something you need in that narrow planter. Take a look at Anniesannuals website and see her recommendations for dry shade. In order to get a bit of height and spiky texture, you could also go to Home Depot and get some phormiums which are a sun plant, but are tough enough to survive, but no thrive, in a North-facing planter.
January 16, 2014 at 9:14pm   
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okdokegal
Thank you, mcbriec... but #4 was in a greenhouse. It had all the sun it wanted for several hours a day. It still fluffed. Friend's #4 'lotmate' had less sun than mine. (shakes head)
January 16, 2014 at 9:32pm   
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giniaginia
It would take someone strong with a sledge hammer about an hour to get rid of that planter. And you can start fresh.
January 16, 2014 at 9:59pm   
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Red Berm
okdokegal. They are both asparagus ferns (common/scientific name) which is why I always buy plants according to the scientific name (sprengeri or Myeri) I would guess it's the wrong plant but it could be a little too much shade. The sprengeri is just a weedy plant. It is easier to propagate and therefore maybe more readily available.
January 16, 2014 at 10:18pm   
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okdokegal
I found the tag for #4, it was Myeri. It also had the nice tight fronds when I bought it.

I will take the advice about MORE light and give it a shot. But the gal that also bought one from batch #4, had hers in less light and hers kept making the nice tight fronds. Sigh.

Thank you for your advice, also thanks mcbriec.

Back to planter. I agree, take that planter out OR make it wider. I think take it out, and lose the solid railing/enclosure at the top of your steps. Open that up some like Affordable suggests. :)
January 19, 2014 at 12:50am     
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