2. Go for four seasons of interest. Those yews smothering every other house in your neighborhood may be indestructible, but they're not much to look at. The right evergreens give a foundation planting year-round structure, but incorporating deciduous shrubs and perennials provides ornamental value all year long. Choose plants with an eye to staggered bloom times from early spring to late summer, colorful fall foliage, and fruits in winter.

In addition to being too static, most foundation plantings are also too narrow, with a single row of shrubs that doesn't extend far enough out into the yard. You may be able to fix that simply by enlarging your bedand adding more plants in front. Layer them back to front from tallest to shortest, making sure none of the new ones towers over the establoshed back row.

3. Choose plants that are the right size and scale. Not taking into account plants' size at maturity is probably the number-one mistake homeowners make. We've all seen windows curtained with overgrown evergreens that no doubt looked just fine when they were planted. Choosing shrubs of the right size will also help keep pruning to a minimum. Look for dwarf varieties that max out at 2 to 4 feet tall for under windows and other tight spots.

Above all, plan before you plant. A good place to start is by enlarging a photo of your house and tracing the outline of it on paper. Add a few key features you want to keep, such as mature trees. Then start experimenting, sketching in plants (at their full-grown size and shape) you're considering. This process will help in choreographing the layout, determining exactly how much you can incorporate, and establishing a thoughtful and economical approach to putting in foundation plantings that truly enhance your home.
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