01 of 18
Simple Shrub Arrangement
Need ideas for your shrubbery selection this year? These pictures of foundation plantings reveal examples of how other homeowners use shrubbery (in a variety of designs) near their house walls. In addition to bushes, I use examples of foundation beds that make use of spring bulb plants, small trees, etc.
This simple shrub arrangement keeps the planting bed next to the house clean, yet provides interest through the use of variation.
The heights and colors of the shrubbery are varied, keeping the... foundation bed from becoming monotonous. The red of the barberry shrub (far left) and the gold of the false cypress inject interesting coloration. Meanwhile, the arborvitae add height to the ensemble, and the juniper ground cover provide some interest at the other end of the vertical spectrum.Continue to 2 of 18 below.
02 of 18
The foundation bed in this photo offers a twist, as it is located behind a retaining wall.
In the prior photo of a foundation bed, I mentioned the visual interest that can be achieved by varying heights -- heights of the shrubbery, in that example. But in this case, some elevation is achieved in the foundation bed even before any planting is done! The result is a "head start" in creating visual interest in your landscaping next to the house.Continue to 3 of 18 below.
03 of 18
Red-Green-Gold Foundation Bed
I like not only the color combination in this foundation planting but also the clean look, achieved through an even distribution of plant material.
This photo shows a red-green-gold color combo for a foundation planting, using shrubs and small trees. The Japanese maple tree provides vibrant color, while the three dwarf Alberta spruces tie the whole design together. Such repetition of plant material can create a sense of unity.Continue to 4 of 18 below.
04 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: Symmetry
Earlier we saw foundation plantings with a "clean" look. Such a look can be achieved by using few plants while unifying them through repetition.
But another way to achieve a clean look in foundation plantings is by using symmetry. More often used specifically in front entry plantings, the symmetrical approach can be problematic.
The problem with striving for symmetry is that it's difficult to predict exactly the heights that plants will achieve. In the photo above, the dark green... spruce tree on the left is getting too high to be an effective "bookend" for its counterpart on the right. To be sure, this foundation planting is still gorgeous: I don't hold this one fault against it. Nonetheless, the symmetrical approach, by its very nature, invites such criticism: since its goal is precision, it calls attention to its own shortcomings, wherever such exist.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
05 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: Screening Pipes
Shrubbery can be used for screening eyesores, e.g., electrical boxes. Pipes are another example of how foundation plantings can function to screen out eyesores.
With their azaleas, yews and euonymus shrubs, these homeowners have injected variety into their foundation planting in terms of foliage interest, if not in terms of height. Everything's approximately the same height, but the azaleas provide a little fall foliage (as shown in the photo above), the yews evergreen foliage and the... euonymus variegated foliage. Of course, the azaleas will also add flowers to the display, in spring.
Notice that the azalea on the right is almost getting tall enough to screen the pipes on the house wall.Continue to 6 of 18 below.
06 of 18
"Less Is More"
If a prior photo showed an example of a foundation planting with a clean look, the foundation planting in the present photo illustrates the super clean look.
This picture of foundation shrubbery illustrates the idea, "less is more" in landscape design.Continue to 7 of 18 below.
07 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: Example of Negative Space
If you have a large shrub bed next to your house foundation, don't think that you have to fill all of it with shrubbery.
As long as it's kept weed-free, negative space can be an effective component of shrub beds. In the photo above, because of the negative space, the shrubs and small Japanese maple trees closest to the viewer's eye seem to flow out from the brick wall, like a colorful glacier.Continue to 8 of 18 below.
08 of 18
Foundation Shrubs: Mixing Evergreen and Flowering Plants
In this planting bed photo showing foundation shrubs, note the use of both evergreen and flowering bushes (yews and azaleas, respectively).
I snapped this photo in spring when the azaleas were blooming. The foundation bed offers peak display at this time, as the red of the azalea blooms contrasts so well with the greenery of the yew foliage. Also note how the use of a small tree adds visual interest by injecting a vertical element into the mix of foundation shrubs.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
09 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: White Stone Mulch
We've seen both white stone mulch and azaleas in earlier photos of foundation plantings.
The photo above was taken in spring, with the azaleas in bloom. I think these homeowners made a great choice in azaleas, as their orangey flowers pick up the color of the front door nicely.
In a later photo showing a foundation planting with a white stone mulch, you'll see an example with more greenery, and the white stone mulch will set off the shrubbery more strikingly. I also happen to think that... white stone mulch works even better with dark-colored homes, for which it affords such a wonderful contrast in colors. But wherever it's used, white stone mulch certainly brightens up an area and promotes a clean look.Continue to 10 of 18 below.
10 of 18
Shrub Color Variation
Vary your colors in a foundation bed to achieve interest.
The foundation bed in the photo above is really a bit too plain, for my tastes. But its redeeming value is to be found in its use of blue-colored shrubbery (junipers) and gold-colored shrubbery ('Gold Mops' false cypress), to break up the green.Continue to 11 of 18 below.
11 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: Lamp-Post Plantings
Lamp-post plantings can complement foundation beds.
By seeming to jut out visually from foundation beds, lamp-post plantings give the whole ensemble more depth than foundation beds, alone, would otherwise provide.Continue to 12 of 18 below.
12 of 18
Growing Rose Bushes as Foundation Shrubs
The designer of this foundation bed had the right idea: rose bushes can be used as foundation shrubs to inject more of a vertical element.
But to break up this solid brick wall and create visual interest, wouldn't a trellis have been a welcome addition? Not only do trellises do a good job of supporting rose bushes, they can also be visually interesting, in their own right. Picture a nice white trellis supporting the rose bush in the photo above: it would make a big difference!Continue to 13 of 18 below.
13 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: Spring Bulbs
Like the foundation bed in a prior photo, this one is located behind a retaining wall.
Because of the retaining wall, the spring bulbs planted in the foundation bed are raised to eye level, affording an optimal display.Continue to 14 of 18 below.
14 of 18
Designing a Landscape on a Slope
Most of my pictures of foundation plantings illustrate the norm, where the bed exists on a flat plane.
But in this picture, I show an example of designing a landscape on a slope. There are inclines on each side of this driveway, but the homeowner still manages to have a nice shrub bed along the house on both sides. Included in the planting are:Continue to 15 of 18 below.
15 of 18
Pictures of Foundation Plantings: Shrub-Height Variation
Vary the heights of your shrubs in a foundation bed to achieve interest.
People have generally agreed that variety in a planting bed is key to optimizing its visual interest. But variety shouldn't be construed as being synonymous with "chaos." As in any planting bed, layering plants in a foundation planting allows you to inject variety, while also affording an organizing principle for you to follow.
In the photo of a foundation planting above, notice the 3 "layers" of shrubs.... The dwarf Alberta spruce is in the back row; the tallest shrub in the foundation planting, it raises the viewer's eye level above the middle row of shrubs, all of which are of intermediate height.
And what about the front row? Juniper groundcover shrubs are the perfect low plant for the outermost layer of a foundation planting; being evergreen, their foliage will be on display year-round -- except, perhaps, for when they're blanketed by a covering of white snow. Fortunately, the only "white" this foundation planting will see for most of the year is its white crushed-stone mulch, which nicely sets off the shrubbery.
Also, note how the dwarf Alberta spruce is almost getting tall enough to screen out the electrical box on the house's exterior. As we saw in a prior photo, one of the functions of foundation shrubs is often to perform just such screening.Continue to 16 of 18 below.
16 of 18
Photo of Daffodils and Forsythias
Like some of the foundation beds I show elsewhere in my photo gallery, this foundation bed is a spring standout, with an emphasis on yellow flowers.
Yellow flowers can bring cheer even to a rainy April day! They look especially good next to a red brick wall.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
17 of 18
Planting Near Chimneys
People who have chimneys running up the side of the house wall may be interested in seeing how foundation plants would look next to chimneys.
The owners of this house flanked their chimney with hemlocks (shrub form), complemented by other foundation plants.Continue to 18 of 18 below.
18 of 18
Spring Flowers in a Foundation Bed
Spring flowers are a wonderful addition to foundation planting beds.
Many homeowners savvy about landscaping will use evergreen shrubs for the "bones" of their foundation planting beds, but supplement these with plants offering spring flowers, summer flowers, and/or fall foliage. The evergreen shrubs will "be there for you" in your landscaping year-round, while the other plants will create seasonal interest. In this case, the homeowners have achieved a knockout foundation planting... bed for spring, graced by the likes of creeping phlox, yellow alyssum, azaleas, and andromeda (Pieris).
The andromeda shrubs serve double duty, providing not only spring flowers but also evergreen foliage.