What shrubs/ bushes for a north facing wall in Princeton, NJ
May 17, 2017 3:13 PM   Subscribe

We are putting our house on the market in the next couple of weeks. We had hydrangeas planted as foundation plants in front of our North-facing house a couple of years ago. There are three on each side, but several of them have not fared well through the winter and look horrible. What kind of bush could we have planted there that will be about 3 feet tall right away, not too expensive, and thrive facing north?
posted by mmf to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Rhododendrons do well low light, being naturally an understory shrub. Evergreen, nice flowers, there's a reason they are a classic. Azaleas are a type of rhodo. Try to shop at a local nursery that may carry native varieties, or at least varieties not flagged as noxious invaders. They can also help you find varieties that grow fit in your space. You don't say how deep your beds are but plants crowding the house is a major problem across the country. People want plants to look good right now and don't think at all about what they will be like in 10 years. Don't be those people.

For the love of god PLEASE do not plant any woody species under two feet from your foundation. That is sure to cause major pain down the road. Your local nursery should be able to give you guidelines on how close to plant. Take that guideline and multiply it by 1.3, then add six inches.

Buying any shrub at 3 feet tall and bushy is a) a good amount of work to plant and b) much pricier than 1-2 gallon pots.

I know realtors talk about curb appeal etc, but when I go shopping for houses, I'd rather see potential to plant, than something hastily thrown in by the owner in an attempt to prettify for selling. YMMV.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:26 PM on May 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Re planting adjacent to concrete foundations, Rhododendrons/Azaleas/Ericas and many other plants don't like the lime from the slab and grow poorly. The solution (not easy) is to expose the slab edge and paint with damp-proofing paint aka Mulseal.
posted by unearthed at 7:25 PM on May 17, 2017

Consider ornamental grasses. Talk with a local independent nurseryman about those that do well locally in shady/semi-shady areas.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:29 PM on May 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cherry laurel could work. But the deer situation is an important part of this decision.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:51 AM on May 18, 2017

I have poison ivy along my north facing facade. It's only about 80 cms high, but I'm certain it would reach the roof if I provided a trellis for it. It grows insanely and needs cutting down every year at least.

If you make a trellis, make sure it is hinged, so you can lay it down for inspection/maintenance of the facade. The ivy doesn't care.
posted by mumimor at 1:09 AM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please do not plant poison ivy in your yard!
posted by heatherlogan at 4:26 AM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe I should say that the poison ivy has been there for almost 50 years - my gran planted it, and we have had horses, sheep, cats, dogs, ducks, chickens, rabbits and children running free in that yard with no harm done to anyone ever.
posted by mumimor at 3:06 PM on May 18, 2017

Hi neighbor! We have Japanese plum yew on the north side of the house. It's about 2.5' tall, looks great year-round, deer don't touch it. You can also call Mercer County Master Gardeners and some nice person will happily give you a ton of other suggestions suited to our area.
posted by apparently at 6:43 AM on May 19, 2017

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