There is something unsettlingly stark about the intersection where house meets land—it begs to be softened with greenery. But just hiding that juncture with a tight fringe of evergreens isn't the answer. Neither is a one-scheme-fits-all formula. "Two conical things on either side of the front door with two tall things on either end of the house with lower things in the middle—that's a dated approach," says Anne F. Walters, a landscape architect in West Chester, Pennsylvania. "The right foundation planting for most houses is a nice mix of evergreen and deciduous material, with dwarf varieties in order to keep window views open, some repetition of plants for a unified look, and an overall casual, naturalistic feeling."
Shown: Curved, asymmetrical beds hide open space under the porch and provide color and interest with a mix of flowering and evergreen plants. A mophead hydrangea greets visitors at the stairway with big orbs of color in the summer, while a blue juniper and a fine-leaved azalea anchor the bed in every season. Hanging baskets with trailing ivy soften the porch posts and frame the entry. Red flowers in the baskets echo the foundation planting's blooms.