Foundation Planting: All The Important Steps And 25 Suggested Plant For Starters

Foundation plantings refer to plantings around the house foundation or other buildings. These plants serve as a bridge between the exterior of a structure or house and flat land. The place seems more natural and belongs there thanks to the clever use of these transitional plants. Moreover, it improves the home’s friendliness, hospitality, and sense of comfort.

Whether it’s a brand-new home or one that’s new to you, the inclusion of some foundation plants makes it feel cozy and welcoming. They serve as a bridge between the exterior of a structure or house and flat lands, such as walkways, roads, and lawns. The house seems more natural and belongs there thanks to the clever utilization of these transitional plants.

 Do you want to improve your home’s friendliness, hospitality, and sense of comfort? Then, you are at the right place! In this article, we will help equip you with the basics of foundation planting, so you can start making your house a home.

The Concept Of Foundation Planting

Planting vegetation around a home’s foundation is done to make the area easier to maintain. This is also done to hide the exposed foundation’s unfinished regions. This may have been before there were so many possibilities, such as using stone and brick. Shrubs, trees, and other vegetation can still be quite helpful for hiding utilities like electricity boxes.

The entryway, the corners, and the in-between are significant sections for foundation planting:

  1. The entranceway is the center of attention in this type of foundation planting.
  2. It’s best to use complementary or matching plants to fill the corner spaces near the foundation.
  3. There are frequent windows between the corners and the entrance.

The plants used between the junctions and the entryway are shorter variations of those plants.

The Entryway 

For the same reason that we adorn the front door with holiday decorations, the entryway planting acts as the focal point: to infuse a sense of welcome into such a crucial aspect of the home, that transitional region from outdoors to indoors.

The reasoning, however, goes further than that. For foundation plantings, the shrubs should blend in with the house next to them. The foundation shrubs in the entryway design should therefore be the biggest attention-getters of the total foundation planting, just as the front door should be the focal point on that wall of the house from an architectural perspective. The entrance door and the entryway plants should complement one other in terms of aesthetics.

The entryway planting’s shrubs will draw the viewer’s attention because of the use of symmetry. Container plants are a common and practical way to attain such symmetry (urns and whiskey barrels are examples of popular containers). The dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) is a popular plant for such symmetrical groupings, whether it is grown in the ground or in a container. 

Slow-growing dwarf Alberta spruces develop slowly and remain compact for many years before reaching just the right size to make a statement. In addition, being evergreens implies they will offer year-round aesthetic interest, which is another benefit.

The Corner 

It’s crucial to employ plants wisely in a home’s corners because they can visually frame the structure. So that they won’t cover the corners of the house even when they are fully grown, space these foundation shrubs (or small trees) enough away from them.

Plantings at corners should be taller than other plantings. Use the scale as a guide and modify the maximum plant height to match the height of your house.

However, there are situations when you’ll want to adjust the scale to fix an issue with the architecture. For instance, you might think that the horizontal appearance of your ranch-style home is too strong. Plant something tall and lean at each corner, like the extremely columnar 

North Pole arborvitae trees (Thuja occidentalis ‘Art Boe’), to remedy the situation. These corner plants will break up the horizontality of the house and draw the eye upward.

In contrast, you might want to build a house that is somewhat tall compared to its width to counteract the verticality of the corners. In this situation, a tiny tree with a habit of horizontal branching can soften the vertical lines of the house. 

Consider dogwoods (Cornus spp.). The pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), a dogwood type that stays short (12 to 15 feet tall) yet is somewhat wide, is frequently an excellent choice for corner plantings.

In Between 

The remaining foundation plants fill in the gaps between the corner plantings and the entryway planting. Even if these plants don’t have the same sexual roles as the ones we’ve been discussing thus far, they should nonetheless be chosen with a specific goal in mind. Most essential, they ought to blend in with the corner plantings and the entranceway plantings. 

Here are some other considerations:

  • If you want a low-maintenance landscape design, dwarf shrubs are preferable than plants that require frequent pruning.
  • Don’t, however, imagine that you are only limited to planting shrubs. Another option for adding a vertical feature that is tall but not too tall is ornamental grasses.
  • You have more options for altering textures and adding color to foundation plantings by installing annual and perennial flowers in front of foundation evergreen shrubs.

The Fundamentals Of Foundation Planting

Plants ideal for foundation planting includes small trees, shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses.

foundation planting
  • Pick hardy plants for the foundation. Suitable plants can tolerate being near a structure and exposed to the sun, wind, rain, pollution, shade, etc. Instead of thinking about plants tucked away beneath a dense canopy of forests, picture plants hanging out on rocky bluffs.
  • Excellent foundation plants reach their mature size and maintain it. They required little upkeep and were developed to achieve a specific size or shape. A few examples are Globe arborvitae, nest spruce, dwarf hydrangeas, and columnar Japanese holly. Allow space for foundation plants to flourish to their greatest potential.
  • Make a planting space 6 to 8 feet wide or big enough to fit a nice assortment of foundation plants when they reach maturity.
  • When plants are developed, they will be at least a foot away from the building. This makes it possible to do maintenance without harming or removing the plants.
  • Plants should be spaced according to their eventual size. To thrive beneath windows or other features, pick short plants. Taller plants should be placed where their height would enhance the aesthetics.

The Evolution Of Foundation Planting

The foundation of your planting strategy should be established as an upgraded version of foundation planting. The house’s hospitable plants can then complement one another and repeat themselves across the landscape. In other words, the foundation of how the landscape is used can be established and grown long-lived trees, shrubs, and perennials.

foundation planting

Use the same shrubbery cluster at the front and back corners as an easy example. Your customary foundation planting establishes a reliable, integrated planting pattern for the entire landscape in this way.

Planning Foundation Planting For Your Home

Foundation planting ideas include being mindful of the home’s design and make plans. See how other foundation plantings on homes with similar styles are laid out. Take note of what you think looks fantastic and what you may not find very appealing. 

RELATED: 15 Best North Facing Window Plants For A Green Oasis In Shady Room

Your home’s effective foundation planting should make you smile and feel content to be there. Allow form to follow function, as you would with any planting strategy. Select plants whose hues may contrast or complement those found in the surrounding landscape or elements of the home’s external finishing. Use textures that match the current style.

Examine traffic patterns to prevent individuals taking shortcuts through the yard from trampling the plantings. Make the most of slopes, hillsides, and flat terrain. The foundation plants can be utilized to add color and life to a hillside while also simplifying maintenance.

It is recommended to avoid growing big shrubs or trees that can block a window. Other features, such as stunning stone or brick exterior finishes, might merit being highlighted rather than hidden. In this case, a matching stone retaining wall for the foundation planting might be necessary.

Initial Considerations

If you’re a planner, you should start with a landscape design plan. Beyond that, take into mind the following:

  • Before you dig, get in touch with your local utility companies. They will identify where digging is prohibited because of things like electrical wires. It is easy, free, and frequently the law.
  • Consider the plant’s mature height when choosing it rather than its height when you first see it at the nursery. That lovely little shrub at the nursery might soon grow tall enough to obstruct your window’s view. Dwarf shrubs, like the Bobo hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Ilvobo’), may do better in confined areas than their larger cousins.
  • What plants enjoy the sun? And who favors partial shade? These factors will influence what you buy and where you can plant it (north, east, south, or west wall).

Recognize that the criterion for choosing landscaping shrubbery for foundation plantings will vary depending on which of the three elements of the traditional foundation planting you’re working on. The doorway planting should be the center of attention of a foundation planting, despite the wide variety in planting preferences.

Establishing A Theme

Establish a theme within the foundation planting to provide a sense of coherence in the landscape. As it evolves, expands, and changes, this will guarantee a uniform landscape. This could depend on the growth circumstances. 

RELATED: 16 Best East Facing Windows Plants – The Stars Of Rising Sun

For instance, a hot and dry xeriscape with unusual cactus, yucca, agave, and stone mulches may function in south-facing full sun conditions. On the other hand, on the north side of buildings, the theme might need to be changed to include plants that can tolerate greater shade. 

Alternately, mossy, old-growth, natural-feeling themes may call for some sun-loving plants for regions with total sun exposure because they flourish in moist, shaded environments.

Defining Outdoor Spaces

The foundation planting could aid in defining outdoor areas as well. For example, a lovely outdoor sitting space may continue to be surrounded by the tiny garden of trees and shrubs at the entrance, giving privacy in turn. Or the corner shrubbery might continue to the property’s boundary, adding definition and a lovely backdrop.

Approaches To Foundation Planting

Mass Effect 

Choosing one, two, or three plants and mass-planting them around the home’s structures and all over the grounds is a beautiful yet systematic way to do foundation planting. The result is fantastic. Because all plants have the same or similar needs, planting in bulk may also make maintenance a breeze.


Some plants are unique all by themselves. Others sparkle when grouped or arranged in rows to highlight the architectural details of the house or garden planting bed. Many blooming shrubs like rhododendron, hydrangea, and lilac look fantastic when planted in repeats, as do many evergreen bushes like juniper.


Establishing a foundation planting that is equal on both sides or creates a mirror image from one side to the other can be quite attractive for people who enjoy formal landscaping or have a symmetrical home. 

Straight lines that may be parallel to or mimic surrounding structures are sometimes planted along balanced foundation plants. The symmetry creates harmony. It provides a welcoming environment that seems to whisk you right in.

Employing an asymmetrical planting design with different heights, textures, and colors on each side may produce a hospitable, relaxed atmosphere. This is frequently combined with organic, undulating, free-flowing rounded lines. This fashion may be soothing and inviting to some people.

Choosing Colors And Textures

Enhance the foundation planting’s theme by using color and texture. Pay attention to how the texture and color may alter how something feels. Utilizing every color in the spectrum might fit your sense of style. On the other side, an overabundance of hues and textures will lessen the impact of a formal, symmetrical foundation garden.

Layering Up Or Down

Foundation plants are typically planted in tiers, with the tallest plants in the back, the middle-sized plants in the middle, and the lowest plants in front, as is sensible and customary. 

However, depending on the design, it can be fantastic to leave some room for movement, layering, for instance, in a different direction. 

Consider how the area will be approached while walking and how it might be seen from the street when arranging and laying out the plants.

Choosing Plants For All Seasons

Maintaining year-round interest in the foundation plants is crucial in all landscape design. When selecting plants, it is far too simple to pick whatever is in flower at the garden center. Instead, choose plants of wide varieties. They could either be a range of spring, summer, and fall-blooming plants. Thus, a foundation planting that maintains interest throughout the growing season may be produced. 

foundation planting
Image by Anja from Pixabay

All four seasons can be enhanced with plants that remain green or colored all year, such as broadleaf or evergreens. Utilizing plants all in one is another strategy for boosting interest throughout the year. These plants flower in the spring, have intriguing summer foliage, excellent fruit in the fall, and attractive stem color in the winter. Dogwoods and cranberry bushes are two possible alternatives.

Plants To Consider For Foundation Planting

Evergreens, such as:

  • Nest Spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’)
  • Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
  • Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
  • Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata’ Sky Pencil’)
  • Blue Girl Holly (Ilex meserveaea)
  • Dwarf Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’)
  • Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
  • Korean boxwood (Buxus microphylla ‘Koreana’)
  • Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Deciduous trees and flowering shrubs, such as:

  • Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
  • Endless Summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’)
  • Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)
  • Meadowsweet (Spiraea)
  • Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
  • Abelia (Abelia)
  • Rhododendron/Azalea (Rhododendron)
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa)
  • Betty Prior (Rosa ‘Betty Prior’) and Knock Out (Rosa ‘Knock Out’) roses

Perennials and ornamental grasses, such as:

  • Stonecrop (Sedum)
  • Hosta (Hosta sp.)
  • Yucca (Yucca sp.)
  • Chinese rose fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
  • Blue fescue grass (Festuca glauca)
  • ‘Stella de Oro’ daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’)
  • Coneflower (Echinachea spp.)

Final Thoughts

When foundation plantings are selected with the overall picture in mind, they perform best visually. Moreover, your foundation planting should reflect the plants that already are (or will be) in your landscape. These plants will create unity and harmony from the garden beds and across the yard.

Continue learning about foundation planting by watching the video below:

Finally, remember that a house can become a home if foundation plants are used with care. The home’s foundation planting may provide a stunning integrated warm, welcoming, and hospitable environment by using a few of these methods and tips.

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