dydy
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Location: SE Michigan

Ideas for a shady problem area between houses?

Hi I'm new here! Bought this house that has an awful dead zone between it and the house next door. So far all that grows there is weeds. It gets very little sun and has a large tree (which DH insists is just an overgrown weed). And, the tree drops a lot of stuff...leaves, big gnarly seed balls every other autumn and stringy stuff in early winter.

I had a dream of hostas but I don't know how I would handle clearing out the pods, etc. Then I thought maybe just nice looking rock but it's so expensive and again, how do I keep it "clean" looking?


We are in SE Michigan, the space is on the north side of our house and I would especially love low maintenance ideas.

Thanks for any thoughts!

dydy
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Location: SE Michigan

Here are a few pictures:

[img]https://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c386/dmgearha/IMG_0862.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c386/dmgearha/IMG_0863.jpg[/img]

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rainbowgardener
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There are a number of shade plants/flowers that would grow there. The problem would still be with all the stuff the tree drops (is it sweet gum?). If the tree drops leaves and balls mainly in fall, winter, I suppose you could grow spring flower, either annuals or spring ephemerals. Let the tree drop everything and then clear it out in early spring and start fresh. It would be flower-y and nice part of the year then.
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Dillbert
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you should also consider having the tree removed.

I presume both houses have basements? the tree roots will eventually put pressure / invade the foundation(s) -

then there's the obvious tree falling apart onto house issue. that trunk split at eave level is a likely failure spot - some snow, some ice . . . one 'branch' to each side - bingo - two houses with one tree . . .

sooner or later a tree that large is going to become a problem - and it's not going to get any less expensive with size.

dydy
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Location: SE Michigan

Thanks for the thoughts everyone!

Pachysandra looks like a great suggestion. What do you do about maintaining it when tree junk falls during the year? Just let it go and clean out before spring?

Yes that tree is awful. It absolutely overhangs both houses and it is absolutely going to be a problem for our basements. Unfortunately, it belongs to the neighbor and she rents the house out and really doesn't care about the place. Last year we tried talking to her about the tree and she basically said she doesn't have the money and isn't worried about damage. Maybe I will get up the energy to fight that battle this spring. I appreciate that everyone else notices that it is a problem.

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tomf
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The tree will eat up you roof, you can trim the branches that are over your yard. You could just do a hardscape under it.

joew01
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The pachysandra ideas are good...and to be kept looking neat should be maintained during the year if debris falls into it.
Another possible solution could be a shade perennial garden using plants such as Hosta & Ferns....(there are other perennials to chose from). Pick some taller varieties and most of the debris during the season will probably be covered by the foliage. Once the frost hits them the foliage will completely die back making your final fall clean up very easy. Hostas as well as anything you put in may have its own maintenance issues.
I cant tell by the photos...but you may be able to put a small stepping stone path through there for access to the back or just to be used to get in there for maintenance.
Good Luck

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Kisal
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tomf wrote:The tree will eat up you roof, ...
I don't know about in Michigan, but around here, this is sooo true! A tree hanging over your roof will lead to moss, the area of roof the tree hangs over will rot out, and a host of other problems will result. Not to mention that the raccoons will use the tree as a route to get to your roof, which they will tear holes in, so they can have their babies in your attic!
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

Yellowsnow
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Vinca ground cover and Oakleaf Hydrangeas for shrubs. Rhododendron would also work provided they get enough water.

joew01
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I like Yellowsnows plant suggestions.....and water



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