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Old 05-20-2012, 07:34 PM
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We just bought a house that had a huge wall of pine trees in front of the windows blocking out all sun and the (beautiful) view!

We have removed the pine trees - all 29 of them, but won't be removing the stumps as apparently they are helping add support to the slope and we don't want to cause a problem.

So we now have a big area of 'berm' with nothing growing on it.
We'd like to get some ground cover going, but nothing that will grow high and block our newly gained view!

The area is pretty shaded most of the day, but gets some good sunlight in the afternoon. I guess whatever we plant needs to be able to deal with soil that has had a lot of pine trees in it and still has a bunch of stumps.
We would like to extend the deck and stairs to go along the side of the house, but could really use some ideas for something pretty to put on the steep slope part.

Any suggestions?

Pics close up and from a distance.....

Here's why we removed the pine trees - our view before and after:

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Old 05-20-2012, 09:59 PM
Location: Aiken, South Carolina, US of A
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I would plant those low growing spreading conifers, I think they might be junipers.
They will hold the dirt in place, they are great for erosion.
Go to a local nursery, not a big box store, and ask someone who works there
what evergreen spreading groundcover would be good to plant there.
Personally, I love blue rug juniper groundcover, but that is just me.
And remember, you don't want anything you have to cut very much with
pwer tools, that looks slightly steep to me.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:29 AM
Location: Kennewick, WA
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Wow, I have the exact same issue. Took out a bunch of dead pine trees when we bought our house and now I have this slope of tree stumps and roots and nothing will grow there. We are also in the process of looking for low maintanence ground cover that will cover quickly and not grow high. I am really curious as to what everyone will say
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Old 05-21-2012, 03:51 AM
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How about that favorite plant that you see growing in old graveyards shaed with big trees: vinca, a good ground cover with glossy leaves and purple flowers, grows excellently in the shade.

There is another flower here (I live in a foreign country where several languages are spoken, so names of plants, etc. can get really mangled, sorry) the German saleswoman called in "myrtle" in English. It grows in shady areas, grows only a foot or so high at best, looks like a tiny bush with woody stems and branches, lots of small leaves and many small pinkish flowers. A stready bloomer.
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:27 AM
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Beautiful home and it really made such a difference to remove those pines!

I would pepper the hill with shrubs that are evergreen, flowering and do well in shade - encore azaleas, camellias or gardenias. I am partial to encores myself because they keep a nice shape and bloom twice a year. I wouldn't plant junipers. Those need a lot of sun and they can get difficult to prune over time.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:02 AM
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Some interesting ideas have been tossed out for you already, some good, but some questionable for your zone if you are still near or around Hoboken.

To give you a helpful answer it might help to know where you live by gardening zone or at least generally (for example "Bergen County" or "central NJ").

You will also need to figure out if you want to just cover the berm with one plant type or have more of a designed layout with different groupings of plants with differing heights, leaf types and if you want blooms on everything.

Your choices will be in woodland and part sun to part shade plants when you look them up. The good thing is the majority of woodland and part shade plants either like or tolerate the slightly acid soil where evergreens thrive.

If this were my garden I would be looking into groupings of plants with pockets of taller and pockets of creeping plants and shrubs. There are a few websites with excellent pictures and descriptions of what the plants look like and what special requirements they might have.

I found a good one here: Evergreen Ground Covers with sections on evergreen ground covers in shade to part shade conditions. Sticking with places like this will help you plan and avoid purchasing plants that people sometimes recommend that are invasive and can become problems down the road. Do not get crown vetch or English Ivy for this reason.

One low growing evergreen for the hottest sunniest spots might be spreading plum yew. I've fallen in love with their fern like quality and beautiful form. A lot of people have become very taken with all the different Heuchera (aka "Coral Bells" )available these days. I have quite a few and am really getting hooked on their charms. They have so many different leaf colors that you don't care about their tiny flowers. If you don't mind some bareness during the winter planting a woodland mix of ferns that can take some dryness and Hosta will be pretty. Another plant to consider would be Christmas or Lenten Roses (both are Hellebores) which bloom and stay green- one blooms in mid winter to spring the other later in early spring.

Shrubs like many of the evergreen azaleas will also do well on your berms. Encore types require a bit ore sun than some other choices. Kurume,
Kaempferi and Satsuki Azaleas all would work in a northern garden for cold and for the amount of shade as well as being around evergreens.

No matter what the plants are that you wind up putting in I highly recommend you also mulch to keep moisture in and erosion slowed down as the plants begin to root. At some point you may also want to get some of the stumps removed (disease and termite issues) so leave some access as you plan.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:21 AM
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I googled Vinca and it looks really pretty and may be just the thing - thanks!

'Myrtle' brings up pictures of very pretty trees with pink flowers, but I guess that's not what you mean as obviously they are much bigger than a foot off the ground....

Azaleas are gorgeous - I think we have some of those in this area already so they may be a good choice. That red one I think is actually a Rhoddedendron and was being crushed by the pine trees before. If it can survive that maybe it would be able to grow around pine tree roots and stuff! I think Rhoddedendrons and Azaleas are pretty similar right? Are Azaleas smaller?

Can you tell I've lived in the city so long that I really have no idea about gardening!!!

The gardenias are lovely too.

I really like the idea of trying to get something that has some flowers to it.

I also really love the idea of the bushes, but guess that must get really pricey with all that space.

We will be painting the whole outside of the house soon which should help the overall look as well. Before you couldn't see the side of the house from the street at all - this has cleared everything out beautifully... but also shows up every flaw!

This is all you could see from the street - you can just make out the house behind the pines.

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Old 05-21-2012, 08:29 AM
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I googled and it looks like we are in Hardiness zone 6B.

We are no longer in Hoboken, but in Bucks County, PA right near New Hope.

Bit worried about the idea of termites! Also a bit worried about taking out stumps and having the berm start to erode. This country house owning deal is very different to city row homes I have to say! Lol.

I will take a look at that link you posted - thanks very much, and if knowing the zone helps recommendations I would love to hear more!

Still loving the vinca and those coral bells look really pretty too.

Thanks so much again everyone.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:54 AM
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The OP might consider adding a series of swales to the steep embankment to slow the watershed and erosion. In the near term I'd advise putting down some landscape netting to try to help hold the soil until your new plantings are in and become established. You can simply mulch over the netting (this too will help the plantings grow deeper roots to hold the soil. Clue: water always runs 90 degrees from grade.

If the OP wants some edible landscaping in the areas along the edge consider some blackberry and gooseberry bushes. Because they are thorny they are good "denfensive" plants as well as giving you something back in return rather then just eye candy. Similarly the elephant ear plant can tolerate shade/dappled light and would add interest (must be dug up before freeze and re-planted) but its bulb is edible. If you plant some ginsing now you will have some harvestable plants in about 5-7 years.

Even with the removal of the pine trees it appears the oaks and trees in the front could still stand some thinning. The OP might consider having a certified arborist come out and give an evaluation.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:47 AM
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We just took out several of the smaller oaks, as well as a couple of large holly bushes which were pressed right against the house and removed a few large branches.

Pics in the view after' shot are a more accurate view of how it is now with trees trimmed.
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