Plans & Plants for the Culvert Planter

In May, we pulled out a cobbled together stacked rock planter at the end of the front walkway, dividing the two sides of our tightly curved driveway.


For weeks, we waited for our 6 foot diameter section of culvert to come in, living with a hole in place.


The day before I left for vacation, the hunk of steel arrived and we put it in the garage.  While on vacation, Ben set the cylinder and started to fill it and the surrounding space with the dirt excavated out.


It’s still not finished, but over the course of the next few mornings, I plan to move the remaining dirt over.  After that, I’ll spray the exposed parts with acid to start the rust process, getting it to match the rusted steel on the house.


I’ve been researching small ornamental trees to place at the center of the planter.  On my requirement list is something suitable for zone 4, maxing out around 20 feet tall, and doesn’t drop messy fruit.  Pretty flowers or fall foliage is a bonus.  At a local nursery, I spotted a Japanese Lilac Tree and it is the Goldilocks of my tree search.


My plan includes one tree at the center with three lavender plants surrounding the tree.  An annual sweet potato vine would nicely trail down the front of the tallest southern face.


Freshly cut metal can be sharp, so we asked the company to roll the top edge, finishing it off nicely.


With the way the driveway slopes, the north and west sides are exposed only 6 inches.


A two foot space between the planter and walkway will get filled with my favorite succulent, Stonecrop Angelina.


Several years ago, the pine tree that had been in the rock planter died from wood boring beetles.


While it did feel more open after cutting the tree down, it feels too open.


Adding a deciduous tree with branches higher up the trunk will keep the driveway feeling open, but will provide coverage and height to the walkway.


I’m worried about planting a tree in the middle of summer, but I’m so excited to get this project finished, I don’t think I can wait!  Before I go buy the Japanese Lilac tree, are there any others you know of that might be better?

3 thoughts on “Plans & Plants for the Culvert Planter

  1. My first thought was a kousa dogwood, but I think they bottom out at zone 5. Otherwise Royal Star Magnolias are beautiful…depending up on the source they can go as low as zone 4. Although they don’t have flowers, coral bark maples are spectacular, especially in winter.

  2. If you are looking for other options to contemplate, a ‘Royal Raindrops’ Crabapple has some beautiful purple foliage and is suitable for zone 4, which based on your choice of ivory silk is my best guess about your zone. Though, honestly, based on your colors, I think the Ivory Silk will fit better.

  3. We planted a Japanese lilac at our last house (we’re in zone 3), and it was a gorgeous little tree. Growth was slow for the first few years, but it was extremely hardy. When it did bloom – ZOW – it was worth the wait.
    Happy planting!

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