It's a beautiful tree but it's a pain to landscape around.
November 12, 2012 2:34 PM   Subscribe

What sorts of things can I plant in my back yard that won't be ruined by Western red cedar needles?

Our back yard doesn't have a whole lot of planting space - it's mostly deck. The area we have for planting is basically an L-shaped piece of ground, which actually is more 7-shaped when viewed from the deck. They are currently bare dirt, and I'd like to be able to plant something there. There are two very complicating factors, though, both of which are related. Our backyard is dominated by a massive, decades-old Western red cedar tree, which blocks about 99% of the light from, and drops highly acidic, non-biodegrading needles all over, the area in which I'd like to plant things.

I was hoping the hivemind could help me come up with things to plant in this space. At this point, I'm not concerned with what - it could be edible things, it could be decorative, I'm not really bothered. My main concern is that whatever is planted needs to be able to grow in the shade and to be able to survive a regular accumulation of cedar needle droppings.

The space is about four feet wide and the short arm of the L is probably about 20 feet long; the long arm of the L is about 50 feet long, but I'm probably only going to plant in the 25 feet that are immediately next to the other arm of the L, as the last 25 feet are next to the house and there's no windows or access on that side, so I'll probably just gravel that over or something.

There were rosebushes there when we moved in, but I'm not crazy about roses and removed them, so I probably wouldn't want to plant those; anything else is fair game, though.
posted by pdb to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Rhododendrons & azaleas.
posted by jon1270 at 2:38 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Japanese irises might be an option.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:57 PM on November 12, 2012

Violets also love acidic soil, though they aren't perennials.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:01 PM on November 12, 2012

Some ideas:
Seconding Rhodies & azaleas
Sarcococca ruscifolia (nice evergreen foliage, small fragrant flowers)
Epimedium (interesting flowers)
Natives (assuming you're in the PNW) - salal, evergreen huckleberry, sword fern, dull Oregon grape, bald hip rose. There are some native perennial violets that would work. There are a number of natives that will work for you - I just found this site that has quite a few options.
Is it shady and dry? Sometimes big conifers can block a lot of rain from getting to the soil. This will also affect your options.
posted by feidr2 at 8:04 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by humboldt32 at 2:59 AM on November 13, 2012

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