A planting scheme dominated by annuals (supplemented by readily available non-annual plants like mums) is often the best option for landscaping around a mailbox. This area is usually located near the street, meaning that any surrounding plants would be subjected to pollution (road salts, etc.). Depending on your neighborhood, vandalism, theft, or just plain carelessness (e.g., kids traipsing through your planting) are also possibilities. Perennials are relatively expensive (and some types even difficult to acquire), compared to annuals, so taking a chance with them in such an environment is risky. Besides, what you want in a flower planting around a mailbox (a highly visible area) is vibrant, long-lasting color. Annuals provide just that.
Because annuals are disposable and cheap, you can feel free to swap out an annual whose flowers are fading in favor of a fresh, new face. Your mailbox planting thus becomes fluid, rather than remaining static, with new plants brought in as the seasons progress. Here's a sample mailbox planting regimen for someone who lives in the North:
- Plant pansies in the spring.
- When the pansy flowers start to fade and danger of frost is past, change over to a planting of red salvia and white sweet alyssum.
- In fall, switch over to mums, which might even come back for you next year (if they're truly hardy mums).
If all that sounds like too much trouble (or you feel confident that you live in a good enough neighborhood not to have to worry about vandalism, etc.), select tough perennials and shrubs that can withstand pollution and dry conditions. An example is shown in the picture above, where the homeowners have chosen sedum and creeping juniper for landscaping around a mailbox. Consult my article on drought-resistant plants for an in-depth look at a wide variety of tough plants you can call upon for use in challenging areas.
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