While the weather is nice, I’m outside a lot, pulling weeds, watering plants, even getting a bit of quiet from my loud kids. To make watering under the house bump outs and the balcony easier, we recently added an outdoor water spigot. Since this is our main entry, I wanted it hidden, yet accessible, so we tucked it behind the giant catmint.
With the spigot in, we bought a light weight 50 foot long hose, which rolls up much smaller than standard hoses. Now, how to store the hose? Again, the goal was low profile, so we nixed a post or mounted hanger. But hose pots can get really expensive, too.
Then I looked at a plastic planter I’ve had for years, just sitting with a nearly dead succulent on the front entry, as seen above. It was the solution.
Turning it into hose storage was a simple as drilling a 1 1/2 inch diameter hole into the double layers of the plastic.
Set the coiled hose inside and feed the hose through and you’re ready to water and store. Go back up to the first photo to see how unobtrusive the system is.
Being a garden novice, I’ve spent plenty of time researching the best plants for our sun, soil, and water conditions. As the plants mature, some have quickly risen to the top of my list, for looks as well as ease of care.
We have significantly more sun exposure than anything else, so we’ll start there.
Royal Purple Smoke Tree
Between the driveway and road, my first favorite plant makes an appearance. Three Royal Purple Smoke Trees add a beautiful deep burgundy color with smoke like ‘flower’ plumes that burst out. Topping out between 10 and 15 feet tall, the views out the front will not be blocked. So far this year, each plant has at least two feet of new growth, currently reaching five feet tall. Before the first snowfall, they’ll get a slight trim to maintain a nice shape and minimize the lanky look. Other than that, these plants are cold hardy, cover a lot of area, and leave minimal mess behind.
Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass
Looking down the driveway and along the front walkway, the second favorite plant, Karl Foerster grasses are filling in. Seven of the five to six-foot tall columnar grasses soften the steep hillside slope. Another 14 line the front walkway.
I prefer these in a row for a more modern look, with fifteen more lined along the deck front.
My first experience with these versatile grasses was when I found sixteen on the clearance rack at Lowe’s for three bucks each. As that row fills out, the bottom of the steep hillside is concealed and looks lush.
Succulents, Angelina Stonecrop specifically
Topping out at 6 inches tall, these ground cover plants spread easily, are cool under heat, and need little water. They’re ideal in this area below the living room bump out, in full sun.
I’ve added them in all the nooks and crannies around rocks. The bold chartreuse color is a lively addition to the landscape, especially near the waterfall where little stems have fallen off and taken root below.
Succulents are great in small areas, because the shallow root system allow easy squishing in tight spaces.
Yet again, cheating the system, but these three are also similar. Both produce beautiful purple spike like blooms, bask in full sun, and attract bees and butterflies.
Now, let’s talk about the differences, starting with Catmint. All purple flowers shown above are the Walker’s Low variety, which quickly grow to 30 inches tall and 3 to four feet wide. The smell is potent, almost sage like, which repels deer and other critters.
Hidcote English Lavender, the purple plant above, grow about 20 inches tall and about two feet in diameter. Despite it being a zone 5 plant, it has survived the last few winters. The lovely smell helps repel deer and rabbits, so they’re great to encircle other plants to form a deliciously scented force field.
Something I’ve noticed, at least on our property, is that the best drought tolerant plants come in purple hues. Russian sage follows suit, loving the heat, but grows larger than catmint and lavender. At 4 to 5 feet tall, this plant makes a great statement at the back of a garden.
Tall spike like stems have fluffy purple flowers that bees adore.
Birds also love the seeds that drop; we oodles of birds that make their way around our plants, but especially love the two that flank the fire pit. Unfortunately, we also have tons of bird poop that’s left behind.
Two years ago, I took a risk and planted a beautiful zone 5 Butterfly Bush. It did well the first two winters, but this last one was significantly colder, snowier, and we had late spring frosts. All of which contributed to its untimely, slow death. I gave it several weeks once other things showed signs of life before pulling it and mourning.
Then I found another for 7 bucks and put it in a planter to be able to put it inside the pool house over the winter.
Seeing as we have very few part sun areas on our property, I have just two favorites for that exposure:
Technically, I just cheated by combining the two, but they’re similar looking. Both do well in partial sun, adjust to soil varieties, and grow large, gorgeous globe like flower clusters.
However, Viburnum grow bigger, topping out around 8 to 12 feet tall and are spring bloomers. Hydrangea, mine is the Annabelle variety, grow about six feet tall and bloom mid summer.
Two years ago, I found another hydrangea for $5 on the Lowe’s clearance rack and popped it in near our front walkway. For the life of me, I can’t remember the variety it is.
I haven’t had much luck with this one, other than in containers in partly sunny spots because it dries out quickly. This hanging planter of Creeping Jenny started as a tiny annual just this May. It spreads really quickly, so use with caution. But, if you’re looking for a dense ground cover, this may be your solution.
As for shade plants, you can’t go wrong with a variety of Hosta plants, as seen in the above photo. Also shown above are beautiful, deep purple Midnight Rose Coral Bells, a shade loving stunner the sprouts spikes of delicate bell shaped flowers.
Due to our steep, boulder riddled hillside creating and following through on a landscape plan has been nearly impossible. As such, I’ve slowly added plants as I’ve seen ones I on sale, experimenting and learning as I go. Do you have favorite plants that I didn’t list? Please share!