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New house, new to gardening, many questions - NorCal 9a

A C
September 3, 2018

Hello folks, I'm not sure if I should break this up into many different posts because that might annoy people, or if grouping all my questions together is confusing. I'll try the second option.


I am trying to bring some color, fragrance, shape and structure to my yard.


1. First off, the main view facing south is a row of 11 cypress trees (not sure what kind they are) broken up 7/4. This is kind of a central point behind the fire pit and I'd like to plant A tree or a couple of trees. One of my ideas was to have two different Japanese maples here; a seiryu which is one of the better sun-tolerant kinds at the back right of the gap between the cypress, and a garnet or other dissected red on the front left. This way the less sun-tolerant would be shaded from some of the afternoon sun by the taller, more sun-tolerant one, and also the color combinations would change with the season and contrast with each other, keeping it interesting. Thoughts about this idea or other landscaping ideas for this area?





More views:



These are the ash trees as you look east from the same firepit area posted above.







2. Second, we want to add some citrus trees. I am looking for something with very fragrant blooms for the right corner of the lot (R side of last picture). Any suggestions for what kind of citrus? Something sweet would be a plus but blooms/fragrance is priority number one. As I understand it citrus should be planted in the spring so it roots well which it might not if the winter is too cold.


2b. Along the same fenceline as the citrus, I'd like to add a whole row of roses. So the roses will be along a fence that runs N/S, and I am guessing will be need to keep some distance from the citrus. Any other considerations?


3. I'd like to plant this night-blooming jasmine at the north facing wall opposite the back fence. Anything wrong with having this plant at this location?





4. Finally, can someone ID this plant in the chicken coop area?






Thank you!

Comments (20)

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    I would think that starting any new trees near such well established large trees will be next to impossible due to root competition from the large evergreens. And planting the J maples too close to the fire pit may damage the tree with heat. So I am not sure that this siting is realistic unless they are planted in large containers which is generally a more challenging task than in ground planting.

  • Denise Becker

    Congrats on your new home. Cypress trees here in my area are notorious for dying from the bottom up and eventually having to be removed. When we get really bad storms, the half dead trees fall over and do damage to wood fencing. I would pull them out and save yourself some trouble in the future.


    As for the citrus, you are only going to get blossoms and the sweet scent in the spring. There are many varieties of citrus. You need to decide which fruit will get the most usage like oranges, lemons, or even mandarins. The best location for a citrus tree would be to plant it so it has a southern exposure next to a wall so the heat in the winter is reflected onto the tree. Also with planting a citrus, you don't want to over water it at any time so do not plant it in the lawn areas where it would get frequent watering from sprinklers.


    If you really want to take advantage of any plant's fragrance, you want it to be carried with the wind towards you and your sitting area and not be blocked by anything. I planted some honeysuckle near my patio and cannot smell it at all because it is on the eastern side and blocked by parts of the house.

  • Halyna (Central FL, 9a)

    The plant ID could be a Mulberry tree.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    I would do a landing at the base of your wood deck steps. Seems like it would make sense to connect it to the nearby concrete slab.

    Plant ID looks in the Hibiscus/rose-of-sharon family to me.

    I don't like the off center Jap. Maple proposal. Would rather see a single variety large flowering shrubs centered at the space. Like Hydrangea or something.

  • jenny_in_se_pa

    Plant ID looks in the Hibiscus/rose-of-sharon family to me.

    That's exactly what I thought it was (maybe even H. rosa-sinensis, which might survive there if protected). But then it should be blooming now unless it was chopped back too late in spring or died all the way to the ground in a freeze and hasn't put on enough new growth to bloom yet.

  • socalnolympia

    Perhaps a Tangelo or Oroblanco grapefruit tree. Grapefruits have pretty fragrant blossoms.

    And tangelo is a bit hardier than orange, so would do better for you in your zone 9a location.

    Keep in mind that the choice of rootstock will affect how big the tangelo tree will eventually get.

    "I would think that starting any new trees near such well established large trees will be next to impossible due to root competition from the large evergreens."


    Right on, if he's thinking about a citrus tree he's going to have to dredge out a 5 foot wide area of soil, and remove the roots from those cypress trees. Putting in a root barrier that goes down 4 feet would also be a good idea. A big job.

  • socalnolympia

    "Along the same fenceline as the citrus, I'd like to add a whole row of roses."

    Some recommendations for varieties: Sugar Moon (has a very sweet fragrance) or Pope John Paul II.

    I don't know if it really makes a big difference to you, but when it comes to roses variety really matters.

    Also for mini roses, Mrs. Herbert Stevens can't be beat. Big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes are unlikely to have the variety and selection you may be looking for. (There's a tradeoff to low prices and convenience)

    Edit: Oops, I think I mistakenly thought I read you were looking for white roses, all these roses are white varieties.

    Why don't you go to the Rose section of this forum and look at some pictures? Or go to a mail order rose nursery site and look at their pictures.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Pretty sure the plant to be identified is a Mulberry, not any kind of Hibiscus.

  • A C

    @NHBab and DeniseBecker thanks for the comments. I do like the wall of cypress though, and I think uprooting them would have both a toll on my wallet and emotionally - I don't like killing trees.

    By the way, can anyone say what kind of cypress these are?

    I wonder if digging such a wide area to ensure good root access for the new trees is doable on my own? DO I really need to dig 4 feet down or can I just dig a ~4x bigger diameter hole than the root ball and call it a day? The ground seems a bit hard so I'm going to soak it for a couple of days to see.



    Re: plant ID, I looked up both hibiscus and mulberry and it seems more like a mulberry to me, as well.


    @socalnolympia, thanks for the citrus and rose recommendations. My next door neighbor is a rose judge(!) and almost his entire yard is full of roses, so I will be asking him as well. I am definitely looking for big dreamy roses preferably without the kind of color variegation that looks like speckles and spots - I like faint color gradients. White, yellow/orange, lavender/pink and bright/deep red are what I'm looking for.


    @Yardvaark, what do you mean by adding a landing? As in extend the wood at ground level and have a hole within the wood to encompass the area of the jasmine?

  • socalnolympia

    If you like red roses more on the pure red slightly crimson side, I'd suggest Mr. Lincoln. If you prefer the red to be a little bit more on the scarlet side, Chrysler Imperial is a popular one, and if you're looking for a very dark black red, there's Black Baccara. Or if you're just looking for a low-maintenance bush that will continually pop out lots of blooms, there's Black Cherry, which has a deliciously red "black cherry" color (but realize that "low maintenance" usually means the flower blooms aren't going to be as nicely shaped, and the flowers aren't going to be scented).

    If you like faint color gradients, you might to take a look at Peace.

    "DO I really need to dig 4 feet down or can I just dig a ~4x bigger diameter hole than the root ball and call it a day?"

    You can do that, and it will be perfectly find for 4 or 5 years, but eventually over the long-term those cypress roots are going to start infringing in on the citrus territory, and especially with all the loose disturbed soil from what you've previously dug out, they'll quickly spread in and take over. At the very least I'd put some kid of root barrier to the right, by the closest cypress tree, even if it only goes down 3 feet.

    It might not be the best for the long-term health of your citrus tree 8 years from now, but you can do it.

    Also be aware that plants in the rose or apple family can develop a lot of disease problems when in close proximity to cypress trees. (apple-cedar rust)

  • Denise Becker

    Let's not forget Double Delight roses if you are into scented roses. They are my absolute favorite.


    A C thanked Denise Becker
  • socalnolympia

    Here's a picture of Peace: https://www.theeagle.com/news/gardening/peace-rose-has-war-torn-history/article_a62814ba-0ea8-5fd1-bfe2-b6c01f72cf5d.html

    This variety does have a nice tropical fruity bubblegum smell.

    There's another one called Golden Celebration.

  • Sara Malone Zone 9b

    I'm in Petaluma (9b). Seriyu is just about the best sun-tolerant J. maple that I know, and you get reliable fall color. Tobiosho is another, but I think that Seriyu is a prettier tree. Seriyu develops a nice, wide crown.

    Citrus is marginal here; established trees do well - oranges, tangerines, etc But it can be difficult to get them going and if we have a particularly cold winter when the trees are small they die. I gave up after about four tries to grow a Bearrs lime. Improved Meyer is the most cold hardy, but the fruit is less useful unless you bake or make jam.

  • socalnolympia

    Well that's no surprise, limes are one of the least hardy citrus.

    I think a tangelo should do fine for him where he lives.

  • PRO
    Dig Doug's Designs

    some ideas:



  • laceyvail

    Re the ash trees. Across the entire east and midwest, the emerald ash borer has already killed all the ash trees--fast.

  • PRO
    Form and Foliage

    No EAB out here.

  • A C

    Will think about putting a tangelo tree in the corner this coming spring, then, with a bit of preparation. I also have a dwarf lemon that I want to put in the ground, and the property has a new mandarin as well. I think I'll try to put all the fruit trees besides the citrus by the chicken coop so they're not mucking up the other areas and I think chickens, when we get them, will eat the fallen fruit.


    Re: roses, DeniseBecker and socalnolympia - didn't like Double Delight, way too sharp of a color delineation, Peace is nice. Didn't like Golden Celebration either, they're too.. full, packed, not the classic rose shape. Love Mr Lincoln, and I believe I was looking at Chrysler Imperial some time ago due to their relative sun tolerance.


    Dig Doug: Thanks for the idea, but far too developed for me. I don't really want to add stonework, gravel, mulch, etc. I want the grass to be easy to be contiguous throughout the yard, and easy to cut.

  • Bryan Lovely

    There are phone apps that will help you identify the mystery plant. I have "GardenAnswers" and "PictureThis" on my iPhone, and they have both correctly identified plants that I already know what they are.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    There is dedicated Name That Plant Forum here on Gardenweb. We often get people asking for ids there after they have been given ludicrous suggestions by their phones.

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