If you've been following our Instagram, then you know how much I love to garden. This summer we're all spending more time at home, and there's been a renewed interest in gardening. A few things to preface. First, I am by no means an expert. I am just sharing what has worked for us in our climate. Second, our home is located in Salt Lake City, UT which is planting zone 5. Though, we do live in an old historic neighborhood with established trees all around us, so our yard does get quite a bit of shade. I would classify my gardening style as a blend of French and English Cottage garden--inspired by our many trips to France and England. If you're looking for advice on xeriscaping, I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place.
Initially I was going to do one gardening post, but then I've realized there is too much to cover. So, I will break it down into a few posts: first up is trees.
When we first bought our home there was no yard to speak of, and it was absolutely awful. We basically started with a blank slate. There were a few garbage trees (Ailanthus/trees of heaven) and a large Siberian Elm in our backyard that we had removed. As the saying goes, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now." We got to work and immediately planted a row of Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam trees in our backyard and driveway. The edge of our yard backs up against our neighbors garage. It's not the greatest view, so we planted a row of Hornbeams to add some softness and green. It's probably my favorite tree since it's tall and lean, and can be planted close together to create a hedge. I loved the shade that the Siberian Elm provided, but it was so messy and it had to go. I know some people are afraid to take trees down, but great yards begin with a foundation of beautiful trees. Trust me, there are A LOT of terrible trees, especially anything of the Evergreen variety. Hornbeams are hardy and require virtually no clean up, but do keep in mind the leaves fall off in early spring so you'll lose your privacy hedge.
I have found the most success in putting a drip line in for each tree, a regular sprinkler isn't going to keep your tree healthy or promote rapid growth. Especially in the dry Utah summers. Like any tree or plant the first year is crucial. If you can't do a drip line to each tree, a tree gator is a great alternative. I think last I counted we have planted 28 trees on our property and that includes our Hornbeams and Aspens (which I like to plant by bedroom windows). I can't resist the shadows of dancing aspen leaves on our bedroom walls, and of course fruitless flowering trees.
This year because of Covid, I wasn't able to have our trees trimmed and hedged in early Spring, so that will have to wait until Fall. I like our trees to be squared off and tight since I prefer a more formal garden.
I hope this was helpful. On our next blog post I'll share some of my favorite flowering trees. Thank you for reading.
With proper maintenance and trimming how wide do your hornbeams get? I have a fairly narrow area but would love to add more privacy to our backyard and these sound perfect.