One of the bigger projects on our Spring 2014 punch list was to build out a set of planters that would sit along 24 feet of fence line adjacent to our pool. This is a high profile area both from the inside of the house and from the pool deck so we wanted the final outcome to pack a good visual punch. In previous years, we'd tried planting various vines and bedding plants directly in the ground along the fence line, but were unsuccessful based on limited planting space, soil condition and heat/sunlight in this area of our yard. Our solution was to take the plantings above ground where we could have more space and control over the soil and fill it with heat tolerant greenery that would eventually grow and give us some of the height we also desired.
The original plan called for bamboo. Fast forward through weeks of research and local sourcing and what we learned was that our USDA zone limits us to just a few heat tolerant/full sun clumping varieties (we just didn't want to take the chance with runners) - none of which we liked the look of. There was one variety that we could have shipped in from Florida, but that was cost prohibitive. So we examined other "looks" and plants and found ourselves at Home Depot last Friday night with a cart full of Podocarpus and Japanese Boxwood.
We had built out and stained our boxes in the weeks before. We also coated the heck out of these guys with a marine grade finish and lined the insides with plastic, taking care to leave holes in the bottom for drainage. Before planting our new flock of flora, we also filled the bottom of each box with gravel and bark chips to aid in drainage. Then we filled... and filled... and filled each with roughly 6-8 cubic feet of soil.
We had some leftover decorative rock from another landscaping project out front and topped off each of the boxes late Sunday afternoon. Though Podocarpus can grow some 30-40' tall into a full grown tree if planted in the ground, we plan on keeping it trimmed to create more of a formal hedge look as grows out. The Japanese boxwood will also be trained and trimmed into shorter spheres in the interim. Perhaps at some point, we'll remove the boxwood and allow the Podocarpus to grow together. We'll see how things progress. For now, we're both really satisfied with the outcome and delighted to have a little greenery along this stretch of fence at last.