Foundation Planting Ideas For Around Your Home -

Foundation Planting Ideas For Around Your Home

foundation planting

If you've heard the term foundation planting but want to know specifically what that is, as well as what makes a good foundation plan, we have the answers here.

A foundation planting is a garden that is located adjacent to the foundation or exterior walls of your home.  If you're garden is adjacent to a porch this would also be considered a foundation planting, even though, technically, it's not next to the foundation.  The name doesn't have to be taken literally.

Many times these gardens also wrap around at least 2 sides of a house, along the foundation - hence its name.

Have you ever seen homes without anything planted around them? This is especially common with new homes. Do you get the feeling there is something missing? Well, yes, there is. Homes need plants around them to, not only soften the house, but create a cozy welcoming feeling. Without them, your home can seem stark and cold.

The good news is, we have some information below that will help you transform your home's exterior and make it more inviting.

Common Foundation Planting Design Plans You Can Use

When you think of the myriad of options of foundation planting design plans, most of these plans use the same concepts we've metioned elsewhere on this site. Curved bed designs with a variety of plant styles and textures, larger plants to the back and smaller plants in the front. All of these concepts apply here as well.

One of the concepts that is unique to a foundation planting however is the corner focal point.

Most gardens that wrap around a house form a large curve around the corner and include some type of large focal point in the middle of the curve. Most often, ornamental trees are used here. This is quite common and you'll probably see it used frequently if you look around for it.


corner foundation planting photo

You can see in the above image what we're talking about.  This is a photo of a good friend's gardens decorated for Christmas.  Isn't it pretty?

Even if your garden is only on one side of your house, it still needs to begin and end somewhere. The most common way to end a garden is to take it all the way to the corner of the house and create a circular garden in the corner that wraps around the corner and ends on the adjacent side.

Ornamental trees aren't the only thing you can use as a focal point on the corner. How about a large statue? What about a piece of artwork? A gazing ball on a pedestal would also make a good corner focal point.

One idea that isn't used as often as it should is a corner fence; that is, a post and rail (split rail)  type of fence like the one shown below

split rail fence image

Here are a few foundation planting ideas, displayed in photos to use as examples of what can be done.

By all means use these images or others you find on the web as inspiration for your own gardens

green line

Notice in this close up of a foundation planting, the foreground shows red barberry plants.

In addition, black eyed susans create the yellow color.  Even though they are perennails, they remain blooming until the first frost.

In the background is a taller juniper that will get taller but can be kept trimmed.

Finally, the trellis in the middle is planted with a madavilla - another plant that is actually a tropical plant so it won't survive a frost, but it looks good throughout the season.

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foundation planting #2 bordering porchNotice this foundation planting borders a porch.

On the left is a cut-leaf red maple and in the center, where the garden curves, is a hydrangea plant.

Sometime hydrandeas get quite big, but it's easy to keep them to the size you want simply by trimming them.

The beautiful tall flowers are canna lillies which add a tropical feel to the garden.

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long shot of foundation plantingHere is a long shot of a foundation planting.

Although it's hard to see in this photo, on the right bordering the driveway looks like a curved bed that holds the red maple tree, plus the left also includes a circular bed that is raised using concrete blocks, which holds another ornamental tree.

The two bushes that flank the sidewalk look good but are getting tall.  I can't say they look bad but the garden may look better with something smaller there that exposes the front door in a more open way.

Finally, a few colorful annuals planting =on each side of the front porch steps would help give some color to the area.

Even though the house looks to be in shade, there are shade annuals that will work here.

green line

The key is, don't stop with these examples. Use your own artistic flare along with examples to come up with a design that's unique to you.

Choices In Foundation Plants For Your Home

In all cases, and I'm talking 100% of the time, a foundation planting will include shrubs - tall shrubs, short shrubs and everything in between could be options for you. Flowering shrubs are also a great addition for obvious reasons and also a good choice.

In addition, as mentioned above, an ornamental tree or two is also a very good idea. If your garden includes 2 areas where something larger would work, why not use an ornamental tree in one area and another kind of focal point item in the other? This would make a great looking foundation planting.

Keep in mind that if your planting goes along the front of your home and curves around 2 sides, you shouldn't design each side to look the same. They should be different.

As an example, on one corner could be an ornamental tree and in the opposing corner a gazing ball. Each circle created by the curve would be a different size, one larger than the other. The larger circular area would be the perfect place to plant the tree, the gazing ball in the smaller circle.

Finally, it's a good idea to set aside an area that you will plant summer annuals. This area would be empty during the off season but planted with colorful flowers each year.

This is especially desirable if your garden spans the front of your home and flanks the sidewalk where people enter. Planting annuals on both sides of a sidewalk where people enter will say to them: "welcome to my home."

This idea also allows you to change the annuals each year, creating a different look. Of course you could keep them the same each year as well. The choice is yours.

Tall Foundation Plants

It's always a good idea to use tall foundation plants, but not so much that they will overgrow their space. This just happens to be one of the most common mistakes made by home gardeners - tall shrubs overgrowing the space where they are planted.

One such plant we see in foundation gardens is the "arborvitea." These plants look great when they are between 3-8 feet tall. However, they usually grow much taller and when they do, they will block windows and block other aspects of your house - totally overgrowing the space.

Here's an image of arborviteas over growing our client's yard. As you can see, they were as tall as the house. What happened to these? We had to remove them.  The after photo is the new foundation planted we installed.

Sometimes it's better to start from scratch.

overgrown arborvitea house before
overgrown arborviteas house after

Here's another example of a good way to treat arborviteas that have been planted next to a house.

foundation arborvitea planting showing proper trimming

These plants have been trimmed into shrubs - albeit large shrubs - but still, they are managable.

Keep in mind that, if you like the look of a shrub and you find out it grows over 10-20 feet, but it will take 15 years to get to that height, you may decide to plant it anyway and just remove it when it gets too big.

Nothing is planted permanently. We tell that to some of our clients that never think of simply re-planting a garden when it gets too overgrown with large shrubs.

One client in particular has a Japanese red maple that is half a tree now because it was planted too close to their front sidewalk. Instead of removing the tree, they trim the half that sticks over the sidewalk.

There are always more plants. In many instances it makes more sense to remove the plants and get new ones. It might even be fun to start from scratch again.

It's totally your call. Do you like to plant a garden once and never touch it again? Or would you like starting over after 10+ years with a new design?

Other Plants For Your Foundation Planting

Besides shrubs, there are other plants you can use in a foundation planting. Here are just some.

Ornamental Trees For Your Foundation Planting:

Some of the best choices for ornamental trees for the corner of your foundation planting are ones that flower. Trees such as the "flowering dogwood" which sports pink or white blooms in the spring, "crepe myrtle" that bloom throughout the summer, "star magnolia" which also bloom in the spring.

Of course non-flowering trees also make good corner foundation plants. Most noteably, the "cut-leaf Japanese red maple" will provide a maroon redish color, not from it's flower, but from it's foliage.

There are many others so by all means, check out your nursery.

Small Shrubs For Your Foundation Gardens:

There are such a huge variety of shrubs you can choose, it would be impossible to cover them all here in this one article. Over time though, Garden Masterz will give you more suggestions than you could possibly use.

Your best option is to visit your local garden center to browse your different choices. Take notes and contemplate your choices then choose for yourself.

Some popular choices include the very popular and beautiful "azalea" which blooms in the spring with glowing neon flowers, "boxwood" which we've talked about elsewhere here, the "hydrangea" which is another flowering plant that blooms throughout the season with either pink or blue flowers that are very big and showy.

Finally, another popular choice is the "barberry" shrub, which sports redish leaves and thorns, a characteristic that you may not like. The barberry is very hardy though, so it's worth considering.

Flowers To Add Color:

As we mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to leave one or more areas for planting summer annuals.

Generally, you’ll want to plant annuals where they will be seen, either by you or your guests. Planting them on the side of the house that no one ever sees isn’t great, but you still might want to do this if YOU will see them and like them… because you know what.... it’s your garden and you matter too!

In addition to annuals, perennials could also be included. However, one caveat to keep in mind that perennials will be great when they are blooming, but after they die off, you’ll be left with dead foliage and blooms that may look unsightly.

This may not be a look you want, especially if your garden is front and center. If you're OK with cleaning out the dead debris when it needs it and sprucing up the garden a few times per year, then go for it.

Again, the choice is yours.

If you do want to plant perennials, pay attention to their blooming habits including when during the year they bloom as well as for how long. In addition, what is left behind when the flowers die.

Some plants, such as the annual “bleeding heart,” die completely and create a mess of dead leaves, whereas others such as peonies keep their dark green foliage while just the blooms die off.

For more information, read our article on annuals vs perennials.

Foundation Plantings - The Most Necessary Garden

Foundation plants, in our view, are an absolute necessity. The good thing is, you can start with a small basic garden around the front of your home and as time progresses, add to it or create new ones around other areas. If you're like us, the gardening bug will infect you and not let go.

We hope you have a better idea of how foundation plantings are designed and planted. These plantings are essential to turn your house into a cozy home that makes you happy everytime you walk up to your front door.

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