new maple garden -- pics and questions

Discussion in 'Maples' started by MapleZen, May 16, 2021.

  1. MapleZen

    MapleZen New Member

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    So, I decided to rip out a bunch of overgrown euonymous bushes that abutted a fence in my front yard and plant a Japanese maple garden. I had a few questions, and thought I would also post some pictures here.

    Background: zone 7b, approximately 50 square feet. medium clay soil, slightly acidic. the garden is in the shadow of a truly gargantuan poplar tree (~100 feet tall!) so the garden is basically in dappled light year round and gets no direct sun. I used bluestone as a flagstone border for the raised bed, then filled the bed in with a 50/50 mix of local topsoil and MiraclGro Tree + Shrub in-ground mix.

    I was planning on planting the following maples together in this tight space -- one bloodgood, one mikawa yatsu, one koto no ito, and one red select. The idea was a mix of both upright, dwarf and weeping cultivars, mixed red and green. Accessory plants will be one thunderhead black pine, one dwarf blue spruce, and one whipcord.

    My plan was to put medium landscaping fabric over the bed below, and use marble chips as a layer of stone mulch on top to complete the Asian garden look. Should I swap out the marble chips for bark mulch? Should I forget the landscaping fabric altogether? Neither stones nor fabric seem popular around here.

    Here are the photos of the first step. I will post the proposed arrangement tomorrow.
     

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  2. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Good morning, first of all I like your choice of maples. Perhaps I would have gone for Emperor 1 and not Bloodgood due to your zone. ( it leafs out later and so does not get hit by late Spring frosts). Now re the fabric, IMO 'don't' use it. This stuff really does not allow oxygen to get to those roots. I had friends who did use it and their trees suffered badly with weak growth and a couple of deaths.
    Apart from that I think you have it all planned very well and your Asian garden will look wonderful.
    I look forward to seeing it completed.
    D

    Edit 1, sorry I forgot to add I like chipped bark rather than stone as a ground cover. It looks more natural and is light for those near surface maple roots and acts as a good mulch.
     
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  3. AlainK

    AlainK Generous Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    I agree with Derek about the fabric and the stones. the roots of maples don't grow very deep so putting a fabric lining would be pointless anyway. And yes, stones, or gravel will compact the soil after a while, not a good idea, pine bark is much better, and it keeps some moisture when it's hot and dry.

    It will be a very nice maple corner but 4 is an even number, I'd rather use 3 or 5. And remember that Bloodgood is a strong-growing tree that can reach 10 metres (33 feet) when mature, so for (50 sq feet) 4.5 square metres, 4 or 5 may be be too many, unless you use maples with smaller growth IMO...
     
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  4. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Forgot about that Alain. My wife always reminds me of this when planting out.
     
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  5. Otto Bjornson

    Otto Bjornson Active Member

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    That is a very tight location for 4 maples. A bloodgood will absorb that entire location and would look striking btw with that nice white fence as a back drop. What about a contrasting green disectum in front or beside the bloodgood, they would compliment one another and as the Bloodgood grows up the disecctum will grow down and out. Viridis or waterfall are nice examples. A couple of azalia's add a nice traditional look as well and you can keep them very small.
    And definitely no landscape fabric, also would not recommend a marble or stone top coat, just the mulch.

    We also have several poplars equal in height as a backdrop ( not by choice, but we have learned to love them over the past 35 years. They host eagles, hawks and many other species of birds on a daily basis)
    They do offer filtered sunlight and the leaves are more alkaline so not evasive for the maples as well
     
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  6. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    I know this is not in context with the thread, but I wanted to say how wonderful to have these birds of prey in your back yard Otto. I was a qualified Raptor handler as part of my job and loved watching them soar.
     
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  7. MapleZen

    MapleZen New Member

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    Totally forgot about even/odd numbers. Perhaps just 3 -- with the bloodgood as the centerpiece and koto-no-ito and mikawa as "understory" specimens. I know it's a lot to put into a small space, but I'm trying to get as much out of it as psosible. Will post pictures later today!
     
  8. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Bloodgood will do fine in/around the city. Remember that the poplar will _really_ pump out water during those sweltering dog days, so you'll need to water the maples. Maybe install a drip system now? Fabric is a bad idea, it causes soil changes and voles and other rodentia love living under it: makes a perfect safe space for their tunnels. Wood/bark chips will heat less than stone, esp if there is reflection from nearby concrete.
     
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  9. MapleZen

    MapleZen New Member

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    I actually built the garden around an in-ground sprinkler head which will water that area directly every other day. Because of the poplar, and a wind that tends to blow through the fence from the backyard area, that part of the yard is often >5 degrees cooler than the rest of the outdoors, so I'm not worried about the heat -- and being in Zone 7b, I've never had a heat issue with any of the dozen or so maples on the property over the last 10 years, even during a few scorching summers.
     
  10. AlainK

    AlainK Generous Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well @MapleZen, do as you please, but I think that what Derek, Emery and Otto said is food for thought... ;-)

    But again, that's a very nice spot for a couple (I mean 3!) maples. It should look awesome, great idea.
     
  11. MapleZen

    MapleZen New Member

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    Okay, here's the group so far.. a bit cramped, I agree, although there are 7 of them total, so the numbers work. It's actually closer to 60 sqft after measuring this morning. I'm going to scrap the fabric and stones and just go with bark mulch. Still haven't pulled the trigger and put them in the ground though!
     

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  12. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    All different levels of height and colours, I like it a lot @MapleZen. Glad your going with the bark mulch BTW.
     
  13. Otto Bjornson

    Otto Bjornson Active Member

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    Right now that garden looks perfect! If you are going to plant all of them in that space I would strongly suggest to quadruple your growing space as the maples alone will grow into each other in just a few years. On the other hand, if you keep them in pots then you could manage that space with selective pruning
     
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  14. AlainK

    AlainK Generous Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    Otto's right, I think...
     
  15. MapleZen

    MapleZen New Member

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    Unfortunately, I've had potted maples stolen from in front of my house previously, so everything has to be in-ground. I'm thinking of removing the koto-no-ito from the group and replacing it with a dwarf cultivar -- especially considering the koto-no-ito and bloodgood would be fighting each other for positioning for the first few years. Will post updates pics at some point. Thanks for everyone's input!
     
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  16. maf

    maf Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I agree with the others, it will quickly get congested as shown.

    If you put the biggest growing one (Bloodgood?) in the back corner, not too close to the fence, you could limb it up as it grew bigger leaving room for a quadrant of four or five smaller growing ones in the front. Definitely agree that you don't want anything big enough to compete with the Bloodgood. I wouldn't complicate it with trees inbetween, just a curved row in the front around the big tree as the hub towards the back corner. If you only have the outer row and the central hub at least each plant would be able to grow outwards and find its own light as the Bloodgood grows. Anything inbetween would definitely get crowded out but I suppose you could dig up those two conifers down the line. If there is too much space between the Acers and conifer(s) in the early years just plant bulbs and low herbacious perrenials, annuals etc to fill the gaps temporarily.

    Anyway, great project and I hope it brings you pleasure when planted.
     
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  17. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Well-Known Member

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    Jeez, some people will stoop to such low depths...stolen maples indeed.

    I wonder if perhaps you could leave the plants in their pots and just bury the pots in the ground? Temporarily, of course. You could move them around should you so desire.

    Please be assured that I am no expert on maples, but in my limited experience with but a single Bloodgood, which I planted as a very small seedling in a 14" square wooden container, that tree grew to be over 8 feet in about 6 or 7 years. It thrived well by being totally ignored by me.
     
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  18. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    I have e friends that have done the same Keith and they have beautiful trees now. They really don't need all that pampering. This is something that E @emery mentioned in a post a couple of years back that was quite poinient IMO.
     
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  19. MapleMO

    MapleMO Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Looks great indeed! I myself have just about finished setting up my garden and have found it is very tempting to put as many great plants in your garden as you possibly can. As you mostly buy them small it looks very doable but my plants, even the dwarfs, have surprised me with how fast they fill in the space and within 2 years I have had to relocate some already. Attached a picture of my Mikawa yatsabusa exactly 2 years ago and a picture of how it looks today.

    Anyway the most important thing is you have fun with it and if you don’t mind heavy pruning or digging them up later on no worries.
     

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  20. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    A very good point M. Also I love the shape of your Mikawa, before and as it is today.
     
  21. MapleMO

    MapleMO Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Hi D, thanks I like it too, kind of reminds me of an octopus with the branches going in all directions ;-)
     
  22. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Lol, now you mention it M.........
     
  23. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Well-Known Member

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    May I ask as to how long it took to grow that thick trunk on your maple? Almost looks like an oversize bonsai, just wonderful!
     
  24. MapleMO

    MapleMO Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Hi Keith, I bought it in 2012 and kept it in a pot until 2 years ago. It was probably some 5-6 years old when I got (see picture) it so now +/- 15 years. I agree a natural bonsai.
     

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    Last edited: May 19, 2021
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  25. MapleZen

    MapleZen New Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the great input. Here's where I ended up:

    -- Took out the koto-no-ito and put it in a little wide open spot away from the rest of the group (see pictures)
    -- Planted a very low creeping juniper in front
    -- Ditched the fabric/stones and put down 2 inches of bark mulch
    -- I plan on limbing up the bloodgood until the canopy is completely above the fence
    -- I plan on pruning the red select so all of the foliage weeps towards the lawn and away from the rest of the group
    -- I plan on pruning the mikawa so most of the foliage hangs over the juniper, towards the front
    -- I may have to relocate the black pine at some point; hopefully the blue spruce can stay put
     

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