When choosing shrubs for a porch entrance, plan for taller shrubs closest to the house with mid-height and shorter shrubs out front. Plant shrubs in a container if space is limited. The shrub selection may be identical on each side of the entrance, or shrubs may be grouped on one side of the door, a technique that might be used on the wider side of the porch when the door is in the corner of an L-shaped entrance. For year-around interest, use evergreen shrubs.
More Than 10 Feet Tall
Set a 'Hicksii' variety of Yew (Taxus x media) on each side of the porch. This variety of yew, which can tolerate part shade to full shade, grows to about 8-feet tall and 3-feet wide, creating columns of evergreens to mark the entrance. American holly (Ilex opaca) and Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) each prefer full sun and can reach a height of 10 to 25 feet, making these shrubs a good choice for a multi-level house or a porch elevated many steps above ground level.
6 to 9 Feet Tall
Indian Hawthorne (Raphiolepis indica) adds two pleasures to an evergreen: white blooms in the spring and blueberries in the fall. Indian Hawthorne grows in full sun to part shade and can reach 5-feet tall but does well pruned to a low height. Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus cembra) with its blue-green needles stands out against most house colours. Swiss stone pine can reach a height of 8 feet in full sun to part shade.
Up to 5 Feet Tall
For even-textured shrub combinations, pair the 3-foot tall ball-shaped 'Hetz Midget' arbor vitae (Thuja occidentalis) with the 5-foot tall conical shaped Holmstrup variety of arbor vitae. Each is a slow-growing dense evergreen for full sun to part shade. The spreading variety of savin juniper (Juniperus sabina), which grows best in full sun, can reach 6 feet across and 2-feet tall. Japanese boxwood (Buxus japonica) has a height and width potential of 2 to 4 feet and can grow in full sun to part shade. Japanese boxwood can be manicured in topiary shapes.
Choose dwarf shrubs or those that will maintain a short stature, like Japanese boxwood, to plant in containers. Using containers offers more creative landscape design by using colourful pots of varying sizes and shapes. Reaching less than 3-feet tall are dwarf Chinese holly (Lex cornuta rotunda) with its customary shiny leaves or gulf stream nandina (Nandina sp.) with its deep green summer leaves that fade to red in the fall are suitable for containers. Each can be grown in full sun to part shade.
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