Planting Too Close to the House and Road and Other Landscaping Boo-Boos

Planting Too Close to the House and Road and Other Landscaping Boo-Boos

Part of Ep. 1901 Misteaks We Have Maid

Visit a site in Egg Harbor where birches, crabs and junipers had been planted too close to the building and the road. Years later, they are now hazardous to traffic, block the building from view, and creating an almost “hidden shopping complex.” This is a very common mistake people make when planting trees and shrubs. Caleb Whitney shows us the fixed side and the unfixed side.

Premiere date: Mar 05, 2011

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
This is one of the most common gardening mistakes you’ll see.  Walk through any neighborhood and you’re going to see a tree or shrub like this planted too close to the house, the front door, or the walkway.  I’m with Caleb Whitney, of Greenside Up.  We are in Egg Harbor, in front of a shopping mall, believe it or not.  There is a building behind this.  And you’ve been assigned to fix this. 

Caleb Whitney:
They’ve got 25 years of good and bad on this property. 

Shelley Ryan:
Whatever’s wrong with it, Caleb? 

Caleb Whitney:
It was planted when it was cute, little, tidy.  It made sense then.  But you’ve got to think long-term.  And now, we’ve got all kinds of issues. 

Shelley Ryan:
Yeah, like the building has completely vanished. 

Caleb Whitney:
Exactly.  Welcome to our jungle.  So, we’ve got some pruning, definitely, in this space. 

Shelley Ryan:
Pruning?  But this is so common.  I mean, we plant things too close when they’re small and forget that they’re going to get bigger. 

Caleb Whitney:
Then we end up with aesthetic problems, because it’s ugly or it’s hacked.  We end up with moisture problems trapped against the building. 

Shelley Ryan:
Vision problems. 

Caleb Whitney:
Exactly.  And it sends entirely the wrong message.  Don’t come here.  This is not my front door.  This is not my space. 

Shelley Ryan:
Look at this.  This is going to get bigger. 

Caleb Whitney:
We need to deal with all kinds of-- 

Shelley Ryan:
Pretty soon, the front door is going to be not here. 

Caleb Whitney:
It’s going to be gone.  In this particular instance, it’s okay, because it’s kind of a background area, but we need to deal with it. 

Shelley Ryan:
Accessibility, it’s everything.  And it’s not just evergreens, is it? 

Caleb Whitney:
No, we have all kinds of examples on this property.  Right behind us, we have a flowering ornamental crab. 

Shelley Ryan:
This looks like you did something right here. 

Caleb Whitney:
This one was done correctly.  This is working with the mature size.  It’s graceful.  It’s open.  It’s attractive.  It doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance to make work. 

Shelley Ryan:
It’s not too close to the building. 

Caleb Whitney:
Not at all.  We do have an example here of one that is way too close to the building.  It’s stumped.  It’s hacked.  It’s ugly.  And it’s a lot of wasted effort and really just should be removed. 

Shelley Ryan:
They’ve pruned it, trying to cram it into this small space. 

Caleb Whitney:
Damaging the building, again, root zone issues. 
Shelley Ryan:
Take it out. 

Caleb Whitney:
We’ve got an even better example of a maple.  You can see the trunk is three feet from the building.  You can see what it’s trying to do. 

Shelley Ryan:
Leaning away. 

Caleb Whitney:
Reaching way out there.  Again, root zone issues.  If you look at the canopy, and the root zone is the same size. 

Shelley Ryan:
Actually, things like this could even damage the foundation of the building. 

Caleb Whitney:
Very much so, in addition to trapping moisture against the side of the building, hanging over the walkway, causing a lot of maintenance. 

Shelley Ryan:
Then you’ve got a bad burning bush. 

Caleb Whitney:
Oh, we’ve got a bad burning bush!  Again, it’s extra work.  And you lose that fun opportunity to have a nicely formed shrub.  Instead, you’ve got to prune it so that it’s not up underneath the eaves. 

Shelley Ryan:
Again, we’re talking a shopping mall here.  We want people to be able to look into windows.  We want people to feel welcome, come into the building.  Not, “What’s behind all that shrubbery?”

Caleb Whitney:
Actually, we’ve removed a lot from this site, to do exactly that. 

Shelley Ryan:
You are working on it. 

Caleb Whitney:
And there was no saving it.  It simply had to go.  That’s a lot of money gone. 

Shelley Ryan:
Over here, we have a good burning bush. 

Caleb Whitney:
A good burning bush, because it hasn’t been done wrong yet. 

Shelley Ryan:
Yet! 

Caleb Whitney:
You can see how cute it is in the pot. 

Shelley Ryan:
Again, it’s so small, you can see why people make these mistakes. 

Caleb Whitney:
It’s very easy to understand it.  And now, with the new improved varieties, you can even get a dwarf burning bush. 

Shelley Ryan:
See, that’s easier. 

Caleb Whitney:
Read the fine print.  In the sense that a dwarf if a relative term.  A dwarf is still six to eight feet wide.  It’s still me. 

Shelley Ryan:
It’s a Caleb-sized dwarf. 

Caleb Whitney:
Exactly.  It’s not dwarf in the pot.  It’s dwarf in maturity. 

Shelley Ryan:
Dwarf, to me, is down like here. 

Caleb Whitney:
But it’s dwarf in comparison to the standard of 12' x 12'. 

Shelley Ryan:
Read the label for your plant.  That means, if I planted it over here, thinking cute, I’m in trouble. 

Caleb Whitney:
You’re very much in trouble because now you’re looking at “me.”

Shelley Ryan:
Okay.  Read the label. 

Caleb Whitney:
Read the label.  That’s deciduous.  It’s also evergreen. 

Shelley Ryan:
Now, you’ve got these spaced where they should be. 

Caleb Whitney:
If you’re going to plant off of a walkway, that’s where you’re going to want them. 

Shelley Ryan:
The spacing in between them is correct? 

Caleb Whitney:
For this specific type of juniper.  Exactly, I read the label.  What I’m talking about, again, if you put it up here-- 

Shelley Ryan:
Now, if this were at my house, or the walkway, that’s too close. 

Caleb Whitney:
Right, because again, now I’m the juniper. 

Shelley Ryan:
I couldn’t walk through here. 

Caleb Whitney:
Exactly, you’ve created a problem.  Plus, with snow removal.  Again, you’re saying, “Stay off the sidewalk.”

Shelley Ryan:
Even though it’s small, don’t make this common mistake. 

Caleb Whitney:
Exactly.  And if this was actually a building, you’re going to want it even further away, because-- Ta-dah! 

Shelley Ryan:
These are pretty. 

Caleb Whitney:
They’re beautiful.  But, it took a lot of work to get here.  Because the other temptation with these little potted shrubs is to put way too many in.  And in fact, we had to remove a row through here. 

Shelley Ryan:
There was another row?  Oh, you had a jungle in here! 

Caleb Whitney:
Totally.  Now, in this particular instance, it’s okay that we’ve softened this side of the building.  As I was saying before, this is kind of a secondary area. 
Shelley Ryan:
So, this isn’t storefront.  There wasn’t something in the window they wanted to sell. 

Caleb Whitney:
Correct. 

Shelley Ryan:
I can’t see the windows.  In fact, we kind of want to keep people out of this a little bit.  It’s amazing that people respond to this kind of landscaping as a “stay away.” 

Shelley Ryan:
This is not a primary shopping center. 

Caleb Whitney:
It still has to work.  It still has to be attractive.  So, we get in here and we limb-up, we clean up.  We allow air flow.  We can get behind these shrubs for painting, clean out. 

Shelley Ryan:
Disease free. 

Caleb Whitney:
And the way to do it is to know how this tree is going to respond to pruning.  We’ve cleaned it out.  We’ve created a kind of a cloud pruning effect.  But it’s a lot of work. 

Shelley Ryan:
It’s beautiful, but it is a lot of work. 

Caleb Whitney:
It’s at least a truckload a year of prunings, just here. 

Shelley Ryan:
Not every plant is going to like this. 

Caleb Whitney:
Not at all.  Know your plants. 

Shelley Ryan:
Read that label, again. 

Caleb Whitney:
Read that label, read that label. 

Shelley Ryan:
Save yourself a lot of problems by planting it in the right spot to begin with. 

Caleb Whitney:
Exactly. 

Shelley Ryan:
All right, thanks, Caleb. 

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