small subdivision entrance drought tolerant plants and plans needed ;-)

Asked April 9, 2018, 12:03 PM EDT

Hello, I am a homeower in charge of landscaping our Jamestowne Green Subdivision entrance in Novi, Mi. The stipulations are such that there is no water available to both sides of the entrance, therefore drought tolerant plants are needed and the plants must not grow wide nor tall as the areas are small. We have 4 foot tall bricked signs on both sides and the beds are about 4 feet tall bricked surround from the sidewalk so that one can sit on them. I can supply pictures to better explain and show the area in question, if needed. I am looking for direction as to what to plant and a plan to showcase the entrance to our subdivision. Please advise if possible or direct me to someone I can talk to and possibly make a list of plants that I can use. Thank you for your time and effort in this matter. I am stumped as to what to do and the JGHOA is meeting soon and they want a plan to vote on. Sincerely, Mary Lanyon 44641 Yorkshire Drive, Novi, Michigan 48375 ttfmfn@gmail.com 248-561-8229

Oakland County Michigan garden design flowers: annuals and herbaceous perennials

1 Response

Hello Mary,

First, unless you want to take a chance on the planting failing, and having to do it all over again, please plan this project carefully. A quick design decision without gathering all the info needed is risky.


  1. You must consider how you will water the new planting while the roots are establishing themselves. Even drought tolerant plants must be kept watered the first season while developing their roots. Also, drought tolerant doesn’t mean they will survive without water indefinitely. Transporting water to the site in 5 gallon buckets may be one option, especially if your maintenance crew has access to a service vehicle. Whatever you plant, mulch the whole bed with 2-4 inches deep mulch around the plants, but don’t pile mulch against the stems. This will preserve soil moisture longer.
  2. I strongly recommend a soil test. You need to know what type of soil you have and whether it needs amending with organic matter or nutrients. Some plants prefer a soil that is sandy, or a certain pH, etc. A soil test from

MSU costs $25, includes the postage, and takes 2-3 weeks for results to get back to you. Check if your MSU Extension Oakland office(248-858-0880) has them in stock or Purchase a test kit here: www.msusoiltest.com

  1. Gather info on other factors:-Observe the site and determine how many hours of direct sun or shade the beds will receive. -Measure your signage from the ground so you know how tall and wide mature plants can be. -Do you need plants that resist deer, rabbits? -Are there large walnut or hickory trees within 50-100 feet of the beds? - Are the beds set far enough back from roads/walkways so they won’t be contaminated with salt in winter? -Do you want some evergreen plants or winter interest? -Once you know if your soil is clay or sand or loam and its pH, you will consider all these factors in choosing plants.
  2. Here are resources for drought tolerant plants: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/best-plants-for-tough-sites/

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/tough_plants_for_tough_places_grasses

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/native_plants_for_michigan_landscapes_shrubs

http://rocklandcce.org/resources/conserve-water-with-xeriscape-landscaping

  1. Here are design resources: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/landscaping/implement/perennial_bed.html

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scene74a6.html

  1. Proper planting and care, rather than just digging a hole, is important to success, too. Here are planting and plant care resources:

https://extension.illinois.edu/perennials/

http://rocklandcce.org/resources/how-to-plant-a-tree-or-shrub

Your library will have gardening books on topics of design and plant selection, too. If you can provide me with answers to the items in number 3, above and the soil type you have, I can give you specific plants that will do well. And, yes, a picture with something in it to show the scale ( a shovel, rake, yardstick) would be helpful. We want you to be successful! Thank you for using Ask an Expert.