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Advice on Low-growing shrubs for island beds

Hi folks.

I have a corner property, which has a considerable expanse of grass to one side.  I am unable to mow this lawn myself,  due to limited mobility, and I pay someone to do it twice monthly, as the Local Council insist it is open plan and won't allow a fence, or any more hard standing. I want to cut down the mowing as much as possible. So I am considering shrubbery beds scattered about, to show that it's private property; without an eyesore notice! It might be a good investment after the initial expense of planting. 

Can anyone suggest some low maintenance, good ground cover shrubs, that form neat dense growth (I.e. the Hebe species, and prostrate conifers?) The quicker the growth the better! I've thought about Berberis, but might it be considered unsociable? B) I'm not keen on Rose of Sharon BTW!

Thanks in anticipation

Wobbly :)


  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489
    Viburnum Aztec Pearl, evergreen with white flowers.
    Dwarf Skimmia, evergreen, white flowers. There is one which gets red berries. 
    SW Scotland
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,194
    Juniper 'Blue Carpet'
    Lonicera nitida if your gardener will trim it for you a couple of times a year to keep it low enough.
    County series roses
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,050
    It is quite common up with me for the no fence/no hedge rule for front gardens. 
    I'm not sure that island beds would be the way to go as that would involve some measure of weed control and management ie. extra work, just swapping mowing the grass for managing the beds, edging them regularly etc.
     What about some medium sized trees instead?
    Or if you do want to go down the shrubbery route, that would be a 5 year plan before they approach maturity. Do you want to wait that long?
    Another option could be rose beds. You would still have to edge the beds but a good thick mulch every year and an annual prune would give you an instant hit.........
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,329
    If you are going to have shrub beds scattered about to reduce the lawn area, it would surely be more fiddly to mow around all the edges - it might reduce the lawn but I am not sure it will save your gardener any time, you might end up paying him more!

    I understand you wanting to signal it’s a private area though, how does the grass join the adjoining pavement/road? Would it not be possible to put some low edging bricks or some indication of a boundary that wouldn’t  fall foul of the council rules? 

    If that’s out the question, there is a roundabout not not far from me that is full of a single species of prostate conifer edged in brick (so weeds suppressed and you could simply mow over the edging). The bed is raised toward the middle so you get a sense of a change of height. The effect is actually quite pleasing and dramatic, it almost looks Japanese. Never thought I would hear myself say that about a roundabout. Your island beds don’t have to be round of course and you could vary the height within them asymmetrically.
  • WobblycogsWobblycogs Posts: 21
    Thanks to everyone for your advice.

    The lawn slopes down toward the pavement, and over the years has lost a lot of topsoil. I used to scatter lawn sand and compost, regularly, together with feeding of course to keep the grass fairly lush.  but I am 79 now, and not so sprightly.

    The house was built in 1971, on an estate that was originally built in the 1940-50s. Hence my house can't have a fence outside my building line.  It had to comply with planning when it was built. Fortunately they allowed enclosure of the back yard.  The nuisance factor is a development of recent times, so maybe people care less about other peoples' property these days. It's also a favorite dog toilet, and I was threatened with violence when I remonstrated with one owner. Unfortunately for him my son was within earshot!

    On balance; I think I will buy some of those plastic chains and hammer in some low posts at the edge of my plot. If the council make me remove them, well I tried. As for reducing the grass, I will get my handyman friend to cut a wide border against the East facing wall, and plant it with Fire-thorn and maybe Cotoneaster, and some of the suitable suggestions above. That will halve the area and allow him to mow easily.

    Once I can fend of complaints from neighbours about the long grass, I can then turn to the rear garden and the elimination of brambles!

    I'm also going to dump this Mac! The cursor is hopeless and it jumps all over the place!

    I will try and get a pic, when I learn how to post them.

    Thanks again friends.

    Wobbly :D

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,950
    Berberis - right along the boundary, along with the firethorn. Easy enough to give a trim every now and again, and presumably your 'chap who does the grass' would do that too.
    Hell mend them if they want to let their dogs get in through that....
    People are vile. No consideration or respect. Good luck with it.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • WobblycogsWobblycogs Posts: 21
    Fairygirl. Thank you. You have a point.  I was born just before WW2 began. My spirit is tougher than theirs! Berberis and Firethorn it might be. Quite a few plants needed, but the initial expense could be worth the result. B) Again, if the council object then so be it.
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