Plant advice for intense afternoon sun

(Question)

Hello. We have a tree in our front yard. Last year we covered the grass that surrounded this tree with mulch, which worked out very well (thanks again for your help with this). This year we would like to plant some leafy/shrubby greens around the border. Ideally we would like something that does not require a lot of water, that will return every year/ survive the winter, and that does not grow much more than a foot or so high. This area gets a lot of intense afternoon sun. Would you have some suggestions as to what to plant? I’m also a bit worried that digging to plant something could damage the tree roots. Your advice would be super appreciated! Thanks!

 

(Answer)

Firstly, we are very happy that mulching your lawn has proved so successful. Secondly, that you are contacting us again, this time about perennials to enhance your tree and garden.

I do not know the type of tree that you have, nor where your border is to be placed: around the perimeter of the tree, or the perimeter of the property and if you prefer one species of plant, or a variety. Nevertheless, our website has an excellent Garden Guide  http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/drought-tolerant-perennials-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/  which has lots of valuable general information for drought-tolerant plants; as well as extensive lists of perennials for different situations. One aspect of the plant list, the height of the plant, is not mentioned, so it would be useful to Google the plant name to see a photo and to find the specific size of the mature plant to assess if it meets your needs.

A few suggestions for short plants with a shrubby nature that will remain above the ground during the winter are lavender (lavandula); Artemisia canescens short silvery and feathery; Perovskia dwarf form; Thymus various types; Iberis candytuft; and the various creeping Sedums in various incarnations, golden, blue green, etc. such as Sedum rupestris “Blue Spruce”.

Most of these plants would require digging shallowly, thus not interfering with your tree roots.

What an exciting project! We wish you much pleasure in your new border.