Last post, I talked about how growing landscapes in the midst of Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) can be a challenge. This is due to the fact that they produce the chemical juglone. Juglone in the soil can kill plants that are sensitive to it. In today’s post, I am going to help a reader with a front yard design for her landscape that tolerates black walnut’s juglone.
Criteria for the front yard design
– Zone 5 (It gets a real winter, not like those wussy Lexington, KY winters Sue)
– Shade of walnut trees
– Asian influenced design
– Low maintenance
Design theme and feature
Since the homeowner asked for a simple low maintenance design with an Asian flair, I am going to start with a rectangular planting bed arrangement. The rectangular design theme fits well with this smaller yard as it provides structure while still being very space efficient.
A dry creek bed is added to provide a low maintenance feature that can provide an Asian feel. Several different types of stones can be used to create this Asian feel including Mexican beech pebble, crushed bluestone, and even an attractive colored river rock could be used.
The good news is none of them are bothered by Black Walnuts either!
Where to put the Trees?
Since this is a house with some strong vertical lines that we would like to soften I am going to put a tree out in front and to the right of the main window. The tree I would use would be a purple leafed Emperor One Japanese Maple.
Japanese maples are not affected by black walnut and this one leafs out later than the more common ‘Bloodgood’, so is therefore less likely to get frost damage in the spring. It is also perfectly hardy in this zone 5.
Next I am going to add a Dwarf Lewis hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Lewisi’) to the corner of the house to soften that corner. Hemlocks are one of the few evergreens to tolerate shade, black walnuts, and zone 5 temperatures. It is grown by the wholesaler Monrovia, so any nursery that orders stock from them can special order it.
We can also add some more deciduous shrubs at other corner points to soften the other lines of the house. We will use Dwarf Burning bush (Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’) and the Korean Spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii). These can both tolerate juglone and some shade.
Since the design is looking pretty one dimensional, I am going to add another small tree further out from the house. Since the walnuts are overhanging here, this will need to be one we can keep under 10’ easily.I am picking a Arnold’s Promise Witch Hazel for late winter flowers and even more fall color. I am also going to add another Korean Spice viburnum to match the one that was near the steps.
I will post the 2nd part of this design tomorrow There I will finish off this design by adding a whole bunch of a plant that is NOT on the safe to plant under walnut lists, as well as adding another finishing touch. I’ll also show you what the design will actually look like when planted (well kind of). See you then.