The Border Garden Corridor

The Border Garden Corridor

Everybody has a spot in their yard that needs definition. Whether it is a shared boundary line with the neighbors or just a border between garden rooms, people like to define their spaces. Another major project I tackled last weekend was the side border garden. As it’s creative name describes, it is on our side border, and it’s purpose is to define our boundary line. It’s also just behind the Self Sowing Garden. As you look past the front porch and to the left you can see an area of darkened mulch. That’s where I’m taking you today.

Here’s a closer look. In the front is the Self Sowing Garden and behind it is what will be the deciduous grove that will one day create summer shade along this side of our house. It’s hard to see but many of the plants are already there. A crape myrtle on the left and two dogwoods form a line with an Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) and four hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis). I’ve loved hemlocks ever since we lived in East Tennessee and went on hikes in the Smoky Mountains. In front of those deciduous trees are a loropetalum and a viburnum as well as two dead azaleas. Yep not everything grows for me. They were rescued plants from the discount rack that just didn’t make it. Although I did manage to get one azalea cutting that lived through the winter.

From this angle you can see the hemlock hedge row that will one day provide privacy on this side of the house. Until then I’m planting some fast growing crape myrtles in between each hemlock to provide a very fast growing privacy screen. When the hemlocks reach a good size I’ll cut out the crape myrtles.
Here’s a view from the backyard. Once things fill out on this side the view of the neighbor’s yard should be somewhat obscured. I hope to keep the grass nice and green and may eventually add some stepping stones set below the level of the grass.

For now all you can really see is mulch but underneath that mulch are layers of grass and leaves gradually composting underneath the cover of newspapers (some even date back to 2006!). Over time the soil will build up and become better for whatever plants find their home here. Stay tuned to watch this area come alive!

Edit: I may end up keeping the Crape myrtles, you’ve convinced me! The plan was to have fast growing trees for more immediate shade then to removed them for the hemlocks. It all depends on how things work so we’ll see how it goes.


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Looks nice. I have never had good luck cutting out mature crape myrtles. They have roots that sprig out with new growth. I moved one two years ago that had been in the ground for about a month. I have had about five new shrubs come up (that I have shared with folks) and have two more this year.

  2. Dave .. I really like the way you have cut your borders .. and yes ! the situation when you share with a neighbor is a bit tricky .. it has to look especially good for both parties : )

  3. Sorry you lost the azaleas. I found a dead one also from last years plantings. Sigh, it looks like you have a great start to a wonderful nature fence between you and the neighbors. Can’t wait to see it growing over time…

  4. Lovely. A new bed is always exciting. I’m working on one right now.

  5. looks great Dave!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. It’s really coming together Dave. I can just imagine in a few years how much more privacy these evergreens will create for you. The new bed looks wonderful, another place to add more plants. I envy that. 🙂

  7. Looking good Dave. It won’t take long for those Hemlocks to be huge trees or pruned they can make a hedge. I like them too. Had some in N.C. as a privacy fence.

  8. Neat. I love the look of the compost-filled area. Ahhh! How I’d love to smell and feel it! I see it’s going to be really neat! I envy you gardeners who garden in Mother Earth! Happy Spring!

  9. Oh this sounds like fun. You sure made it neat and tidy looking. That’s a beautiful view out your front yard. Looks like you are the focal point of that area and I bet your neighbors love all this landscaping. Do they have to pay more taxes call you live there with all your improvements? Just kidding—sorta.

    I kill stuff too–darn it.

  10. Talk about different perspectives! When you said you would cut down the crape myrtles I couldn’t imagine cutting down those beautiful trees; then Janet’s perspective is that they will keep coming back, your is that you love the hemlocks more! I love gardeners. gail

  11. It will all grow in fast Dave. I was in Burgess Falls today and was surprised at all the hemlocks growing there. They seemed to be doing well. Very pretty with all the cones. I understand why you like them so much. But maybe the crepes will work with the hemlocks? They will look great together. I like the long views too. Grass is really really green!

  12. Dave,

    Your plans for this border seem really good and in a few years you’ll have something nice. Hemlocks seem so much better that leland Cypress that we see here all over the place.

    We plan on a camellia border at the edge of our woods.

  13. Your property is beautiful. I love the shape of your beds. Isn’t it amazing how patient we are when it comes to gardening? It’s exciting to put something in the ground and imagine how it will prosper in years to come.

  14. Oh, and you’re not the only azalea-challenged one. I have THREE that look relatively healthy, but have never bloomed!

  15. Hi Dave~~ I’m new to your site, I think. It’s hard to keep track. Anyway, love your plans. For an interesting twist, never mind azalea casualties. I killed my first hemlock ! I planted it in full sun with dry, clay soil, a recipe for death. My second try lives in a container in shade, soil kept moist. The poor things don’t like our western Oregon dry summers and considering their native habitat it should be no surprise. Trial and error….

    I too love crape myrtles and shutter to think of eliminating them. But one of the perks of gardening is being able to do it your own way and welcoming the rest of us to gaze at your genius. It’s going to look great.

  16. Janet,

    You’re right those roots would be a big pain to remove later!

    Thanks Joy!


    We have good deal of privacy as it is since our lots are 1 acre+ but a nice vegetative screen will make a fun and private passageway to the backyard.

    Mrs. Chiot,

    New beds are always fun! A whole new palette to paint.

    Thanks Linda!


    I’m gradually adding new spots for plantings. Our lot was a blank slate when we got here. That was one of the things we were looking for in our house. Of course that just means there is always lots to do!


    I gardened for several years on a porch in pots. I longed for solid ground to dig in, I know how you feel!


    I’m wavering a little on the crapes! One of my thoughts was that this side of the house would be similar to the Smokey Mountains in vegetation. Hemlocks, azaleas etc. There will be variations but crape myrtles aren’t really up there!


    They might work well together. I’ll try it and see!


    The Leyland cypress does seem to be over planted. I really like the Hemlocks and their feathery evergreen foliage!


    They can be tricky can’t they? Our area isn’t the ideal area for azaleas due to the rocky nature of the soil. Of course I did forget to water them a few times…that’s not good!


    You’re right that is one of the perks of gardening! Still it’s great to get input from other gardeners. If you’re sitting on the fence about a subject the other gardeners might just push you over!

  17. I like Crape myrtles as a rather neighborly hedge/screen plant, somewhat see-through but still giving enough privacy and really pretty for both sides when they bloom. Ours grow slow as molasses, but I really like them.

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