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Landscaping & Design/Shrub/tree selection on retaining wall


Thanks for the help in advance.  I have  six foot talk retaining wall along the street in front of my house along the walkway to the front door (walkway to front door is the top f retaining wall).  On the top of the retaining wall facing the street there is  a 50' long row of square evergreen bushes 3' tall. That are framed out on both ends by two large old 8' tall andromeda trees/bushes.  I want to take the andrometers out because they attract alot of bees to my front door and have an unpleaseant smell.  Also within the retaining wall about 10' away from the tree is my septic tank and leech pipes.
1. I need suggestions of trees or bushes that roots won't break the wall or pipes.
2. Tree should never be able get above 10'.  Bigger would be fine as long as roots are very small.
3. Something that keeps its leaves in winter would be nice but not necessary.
Thanks a lot, Tom


Here is a list of shrubs that should meet your requirements:

Juniper. Juniperus chinensis 'spartan'. Fast growing,columnar shaped,tolerates partial shade. Grows to about 8 feet high with about a 6 feet spread. Evergreen.

Forsythia. Blooms in spring,produces bright yellow flowers. Grows 3 to 8 feet high. Produces a medicinal grade fruit that is harmless to animals. Deciduous (loses leaves in fall).

Spirea. Vanhouttei. Grow 6 to 8 feet high and spreads 6 to 8 feet wide. Tolerates partial shade,drought and poor soil. Deciduous.

Lilac. Grows to 8 feet high. Evergreen.

Holly. Varieties available that grow to 10 feet high. Evergreen. Very shade tolerant.

Here is a list of trees that should meet your requirements:

Sargentii. 'tina'. Smallest of the flowering crab apples. Grows to 8 feet high and has a 15 feet spread. Edible fruit. Deciduous.

Dogwood. Varieties that reach a height of 10 feet are available. Deciduous. Attractive spring blossoms.

On a southern exposure,if you would like sun in the winter and privacy is not important,go with predominantly deciduous plantings. Or you could mix deciduous and evergreen plantings.

Although spirea is deciduous,its branches still remain fairly dense in fall and winter. You might consider using low growing shrubs such as juniper under any trees you might plant to fill in gaps that might be created by the branch height of these trees. Good luck. Let me know if I can be of further help.

Mark Harshman

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Design of landscape structures and design of planting arrangements in the landscape. I usually do not answer questions of a horticultural nature or about growing plants or gardening unless they are related to design. I will answer these questions at my discretion. I will answer maintenance questions at my discretion,usually when they are related to design. I am a landscape designer. I am not a contractor or a gardener. Although I will describe how something is built I do not provide detailed installation or construction instructions. Here are example categories of problems I can help you with: Design of residential walks,low walls,low retaining walls,fences,drainage systems,arbors,plant selection,xeriscapes (low water use landscapes),rain garden design,rain water harvesting,permeable paving,sustainable drainage. No advise on an architectural or engineering level. I DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DESIGN WORK THROUGH THIS SITE. I only provide suggestions and advice. For more comprehensive help check out my website at:


Landscape concept plan for a 30,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by pace measurements and photographs and a site analysis and a site analysis report and recommendations and a preliminary cost estimate. Design elements included canopy trees,shrub cover,accent flowers,trash receptacles,benches and planters. Landscape concept plan for a 7,000 square feet site for a community center. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs,a site analysis and the creation of 3 conceptual designs for the site. Work was done through a local professional design center. Design elements included tree garden,playground,sitting area,lawn,cooking area,lighting and concrete and brick paving. Landscape concept plan for a 3,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs and a site analysis. Concluded in 3 concept designs for the site,shown at a formal presentation,a site analysis and recommendations. Work was done through a community volunteer program. Design elements included decks,a playground and fencing. Briefly as draftsman for landscape designer/gardener. Conceptual landscape design for residence. Involved site recon by tape and pace measurements and site analysis. Design included covered patio area,ground cover and flower beds. Two years experience as draftsman for transportation department in engineering firm and for engineering consultants to phone company. Duties consisted of plotting topography. Survey crew member. General assistant to surveyor. Work was done for U.S. Army and County Highway Department. No instrument work. Duties included tape measurement,holding graduated survey rod and plumb bob for sighting and clearing brush. Marketed Landscape Design Services. Brochure writing,promotional material and marketing graphics.

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From Civil Engineer: I am very impressed with your work and with the obvious thought you have put into the marketing of your venture. It was especially good to see a print of that job we discussed on the phone. I wish you much luck with the venture as I do with your plans for school. Im darn proud of you buddy. And by the way,when I get my license,maybe you will consider me for a consulting job down the road. I hope to get together with Rick sometime soon and I would really like to show him your stuff if its ok with you. From all these questions you ask I get the feeling that you are genuinely interested and have put alot of thought into the idea and process of landscape architecture and if you could possibly afford the cost I would urge you to take some classes in the areas you are most interested in. The subject is not so simple as it appears,mixing science and engineering with art and a certain amount of religion to create a comfortable and pleasing balance between man and nature. A thoughtful soul like yours can do this but it can be a lifes work getting it right.

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