Foundation Plantings

Entrance Gardens

Traditionally, foundation plantings have been meant to conceal the cement foundations of houses.  Often though it’s more appropriate to create a welcoming entrance garden.  Foundation plantings also help to blend the house and garden in with the existing landscape.

Plantings at the entrance to a house should be welcoming and open.  Avoid using overbearing plants and be sure to plant shrubs which won’t outgrow their allotted space, block views or hamper access.  Also, consider using plants which have year-round interest, such as evergreens or deciduous shrubs which have brilliant fall foliage or berries through the winter.  The entrance garden is an appropriate place for specimen shrubs as well, such as a profusely flowering deciduous shrub or a dwarf evergreen.  Limit the use of specimen shrubs in your garden, however, as they’ll lose their desired effect. 

Foundation PlantingsCorner plantings which include tall shrubs or even small trees screen back yards as well as blend the garden in with surrounding landscape.  Shrubs in the foundation planting should be placed where they won’t interfere views or touch the house when they mature.

Transition plantings, those plantings which run between the entrance and corner, are best when designed to be simple.  Low growing shrubs generally work best; tall shrubs tend to block windows and views and need frequent pruning resulting in awkwardly shaped plants. 

Keeping it Simple

Keep in mind, simple designs often create the most successful gardens.  Avoid the one of each approach.  By limiting the amount of different types of plants and paving material used throughout the garden you’ll be able to tie together your garden elements.  You’ll also get you the most from each.  Don’t, however, over do it, variety is also important in the garden to create interest.

Avoid overly symmetrical designs as they can often end up looking quite stiff.  An asymmetrical balance often works wonderfully in a foundation planting.  That is, the design should have the same “weight” on both end of the garden but its elements consist of various shrubs of different sizes, forms, and textures.

Plan your foundation planting on paper ahead of time, this allow you to have a resource when its time to buy your plants and install the garden.  Know the mature height of all the plants you’ll be using in your design.  One of the most common mistakes gardeners make is improper plant selection and placement.  Another mistake is over planting.  Though your garden may look a bit sparse early on you’ll be avoiding overcrowding in the future.

To emphasize certain plants in your garden use contrasting colors, shapes, or texture, for example, the light green leaves of a hydrangea will stand in stark contrast against the dark foliage of a rhododendron.

Be sure to plant your shrub so that at maturity the foliage does not touch the structure.  This will allow adequate air flow and will prevent the growth of mold.

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