The west side of a house presents challenges for homeowners and landscaping plants. Subjected to sun for the hottest day hours, this region is more difficult to cool in summer. Shrubs that shade the region help save energy, but they need to withstand half a day’s total sun, heat and drying conditions. In winter months, it is fantastic for sunshine to strike the west side to help heat the rooms. Deciduous, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant shrubs work best on the side to aid with energy conservation.
On west-side walls unbroken by windows or doorways, plant tall shrubs for maximum summer shading. Consider allowing western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, to grow as a large tree. Keep it to the desired height and conformation by routine pruning. Magenta spring flowers are followed by glossy, rounded leaves. This indigenous plant tolerates full sun and drought. For height plus multiple-season colour, edible pomegranate (Punica granatum), hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11, is an alternative. Spring red-orange flowers include red, fall-ripening fruits and yellow autumn foliage. Pomegranate does best in a hot, sunny place for fruit production.
Shorter-growing shrubs are useful beneath west-side windows or as foundation plantings. Determine eventual shrub height you need by if you would like to see out of this window or wish it partly screened. A multi tree that provides bright red roses from spring through autumn and purple drop leaf colour, “Knock Out” rose (Rosa x “Radrazz”) grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide in USDA zones 4 through 9. A taller, red-flowered tree which grows to 6 feet tall and wide, flowering quince “Double Take Damp Storm” (Chaenomeles speciosa “Scarlet Storm”), that grows in USDA zones 5 through 9, flowers in early spring. It prefers full sun and is drought tolerant once established.
Use your western exposure to reveal shrubs that provide year-round color. For a effective summer bloom screen, crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is tough to beat. It grows in USDA zones 7 through 9 and requires a sunny, warm place for the best flowering. Several cultivars are available that vary in height and flower color, such as shades of pink, white, crimson, lavender and magenta. The peeling bark adds winter colour and curiosity after the multicolored autumn leaves drop off. Another tree with peeling bark and rich, long-lasting flowers, oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), growing in USDA zones 5 through 9, creates conical heads of white flowers that become purplish as they age. Large, deeply lobed leaves turn purple, bronze or red in autumn on shrubs 6 to 2 feet tall.
Shrubs with fragrant flowers that do well in full sun and heat comprise “White Knight” weigela (Weigela florida “White Knight”). Tubular, white, fragrant flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies in late spring. Growing 4 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide, “White Knight” is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9. The powerful, honeylike scent of stretched, purple-black flower clusters of butterfly bush “Black Knight” (Buddleia davidii “Black Knight”) arise from early summer until late autumn. Growing in USDA zones 6 through 9, fast-growing bushes reach 10 feet tall if unpruned. Cut bushes back badly in late winter.