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I have a small strip (about 1-1 1/2 feet) in front of my brick house that needs to be separated from my front lawn. I would like to put bricks or something to keep the grass from coming through. What would you suggest to use to separate the two areas? What would you suggest to plant?
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I think the most effective lawn edging for that purpose is the plastic edging that comes in rolls. But there are many other materials that could be used: wood, metal, stone, brick or concrete will also work but cost varies and some last longer than others. It really depends on the "look" you want. The key is to make sure they are deep enough to prevent grass runners from entering your strip (usually about 6 inches). Plastic rolls and metal edging need to be staked to keep them in place.
As far as plants to use in your strip, that again depends on the look you want and how much work you are willing to put into it. Some gardeners love to putter and annual flowers would be nice because you can replace them frequently to provide seasonal changes in the appearance. Flowering perennials or small shrubs could be used, and once established they require less work. Keep in mind that 1 to 1-1/2 feet is not much space, so large shrubs should be avoided because their roots will need more space to maintain their health and vigor. Another thing to think about is exposure (what direction does the front of your house face?). Plants with a southern or western exposure will get more sun than plants with a northern or eastern exposure.
Some suggestions for perennials:
Hosta (mainly for foliage)
Polemonium (Jacob's ladder
Mahonia (Oregon grape)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Buxus koreana (Korean boxwood)
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