Landscaping: The Concept of Foundation Planting

The special planting set close to the house is called foundation planting and has great importance since it improves and enhances the proportions of your house as well as relates the house to the grounds. Evergreens are widely used for foundation planting not only because they can thrive in the shade of the house, but because of their year-round good looks. If you have not used evergreens elsewhere, though, it can be a mistake to suddenly use them at the foundation. The contrast will be too sharp; the evergreens are apt to look forbidding.

There remains a wide choice of flowering shrubs, dwarf fruit trees, roses and cushion chrysanthemums that will lend color to your foundation design in spring, summer and fall. Japanese redleaf barberry, floribunda roses, flowering quince and forsythia are among the bushes and plants that can be used. While it is tempting to try one of each of the nursery’s evergreen specimens in your foundation planting, this should, of course, be avoided. On the other hand, contrast tall and low-growing types: use stiff-needled pines with feathery juniper with broad-leafed laurel and rhododendron.

In your preliminary planning, draw to scale the relationship between your house elevation and the foundation shrubs and trees as they will look at mature height. Perhaps some of those you’ve selected will be too tall for your house, obscuring your windows and making the house gloomy inside. In that case, you don’t want them. In general, because your entrance is the most important feature of your house facade, you start your planning with it in mind, using shrubs that direct the eye toward the door. The planting in front of the house is usually bowl-shaped in its overall outline. This gives the impression of a broad base to the house. In some places, let the wall show to the foundation. Put the tallest shrubbery at the corners of your house.

In summary, begin with the end in mind. What looks great now may not look so great once everything is grown to maturity. To accent with garden decor and garden accessories, visit

Elizabeth Passage
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About the Author

Elizabeth Passage has a lifelong passion for, and extensive experience in, the garden gift, landscaping, garden decor, garden design industries.