good foundation plantings
Foundation plantings are house-hugging plants that should complement and enhance your home
The idea is simple: Foundation plants should enhance your home, make it more welcoming, and tie it to the surrounding landscape. Unfortunately, these house-hugging plantings frequently consist of stiff evergreen shrubs that do little for the house they adorn. Even worse, they're often sheared into something closer to green loaves of bread than to anything found in nature. Here are some ways to rethink that timeworn row of clipped evergreens.

1. Work with the architecture and overall style of your house. Is your home characterized by formal symmetry, with a centered door and equal numbers of windows lined up on either side—such as on Georgians, Federals, or some Colonial Revivals? If so, you may want to consider a design that has some formal elements, with sheared shrubs accenting the entry and mirror-image plantings on each side of it. On the other hand, informal, cottage-style homes and low-slung ranches look best with more casual, asymmetrical plant schemes.

In both cases, avoid competing elements that detract from the main entrance and the house in general, such as tall plantings that block views of your home, or a lone bed in the middle of an open lawn. The area around the entrance is where guests experience your landscape close up, so make this area welcoming with an interesting contrast of plant forms, flowers, and foliage colors and textures. Elsewhere on the facade, a stretch of bare wall between windows is often an invitation for a larger shrub, a small tree, or even a vine-covered trellis. Around windows, be sure not to cut off light and air with plants that will grow too high.

Tall plantings placed at the corners of the house help soften its edges and tie it into the landscape. They can also give the illusion of extending a small house, making it appear larger. Medium-size flowering trees like dogwood, Canadian redbud, crabapple, rose-of-Sharon, and crape myrtle all have a loose feel that suits a casual, cottage-style home. More stately traditional homes can be planted at each end with upright English oak, juniper, or groups of Leyland cypress to add a columnlike effect.

Of course, it's worth pointing out that houses that don't have raised foundations to disguise or have handsome stonework to be showcased may not need more than entrance and corner plantings. A bed of groundcover or mulch may be all that is necessary to tie the two areas together—and make maintenance and mowing easier.
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