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Old 04-28-2009, 04:45 PM   #16
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I'm not a fan of knockout roses. I bought 2 last season and imo they are more like weeds with pretty flowers than actual plants I want to own.

These are 2 good places to buy small, healthy, inexpensive Japanese Maples. I recommend the crimson queen and red dragon for starters.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:45 AM   #17
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Looks like a great home.

I would find out which direction your home faces. Does the area you are concerned about get any sun (southern facing)? Does the design of your home cast shadows over the area that limit the amount of sun? If yes, grass is not going to be a choice. It may look nice for in the short term but eventually it will begin to die from lack of sun and become choked out by weeds.

Since most builders remove (and not replace) the topsoil, especially in the area graded for the building envelope and impervious surfaces. To test your soil just do a ball test. Soak a fistful and see how it forms. Sandy will just fall apart. Clay will be a muddy mess that oozes. The best soil will hold its form while holding the moisture. This is loamy soil. We all wish we could have this type of soil. A mixture of sand, silt and clay in equal parts.

No matter your soil type you will want to make sure you have at least 4 inches of topsoil mixed with hummus/compost/organic material. They sell it in bags or you can have it delivered. This type of soil is called a lot of different things like garden soil, compost soil or some other name. Once you have that in place I would go with an evergreen ground cover. There are so many choices (check what ones work in your USDA growing zone) you will find one you like. Because your spaces are confined by cement, the cover will not begin to overgrow the space. Beware of certain ivies that will climb. Next for color and contrast, I would find a shade loving ornamental with a limited mature height (check this first because too many times people will plant a tree or shrub and don't check to see how big and broad it will eventually become). You have a lot of choices that don't include fake plants and gravel/rock gardens. You can have a natural, low maintenance "lawn" even in those small areas with some Internet searching and a trip to a good nursery with a knowledgeable staff.

Good Luck,

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Old 04-29-2009, 12:19 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the info!!!
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