Foundation and Landscaping Shrubs – Overcoming Problems


Foundation shrubs and landscaping shrubs can sometimes have problems that you need to overcome. Healthy plants continue to grow and can become straggly and unkempt and can become overcrowded. This is true of evergreens and flowering shrubs, as your shrubs may need some attention and maintenance.

"Foundation Shrubs"

Foundation Shrubs

Problems caused by overcrowding

Foundation landscaping plants in your yard and garden can outgrow the space alloted to them if they are not pruned and sheared. They may have been the wrong plants for the location originally, or possibly they were planted without consideration for their growth habits. They may have been set too close together when the plants were small in an effort to make the landscape look attractive immediately. Consequently, with a few years those plants became overcrowded, even if someone had been tending to them regularly.

Environmental Problems

Struggling plants around a foundation are another kind of problem. If fertilizing has been neglected, plants suffer, especially under eaves because the extra water from the roof washed nutrients from the soil at a fast rate. In cold climates, plants there are also more likely to encounter damage from heavy loadd of snow or ice falling from the roof.

Originally the reason for surrounding a house with plantings was to obscure an unsightly stone or concrete foundation. Although most new homes these days have more attractive bases, foundation plantings are still an important part of the home landscape and, ideally, connecty the structure with the surrounding land. An attractive planting serves an aesthetic and decorative foundation similar to that of houseplants indoors by making a building more welcoming and friendly.

"Foundation Landscaping"

Foundation Landscaping

But foundation plants can struggle for other reasons. If they have become overgrown and in a weakened condition, they may be attacked by pests or diseases. Depending on their condition, you must either repair your planting or dig out all the plants and start over.

Placement of Shrubs

Plants that are in good shape but in the wrong location should be moved. Foundation plants should never be located directly under the drip line of a building if there are no eave spouts. In cold climates, they should not be growing where heavy loads of snow or ice could fall on them. If a house has a low, wide roof over-hang, plant beneath it will not get enough light to grow well or enough rain to keep them healthy (unless you water them regularly).

Be sure to leave enough space between your shrubs and your house. Plants too close to the foundation will grow leaning outward to try to get more light. Tall specimens growing against a building may also retain moisture ther, causing wooden surfaces to rot.

"Landscaping Shrubs"

Vary your landscape shrubs

Upgrading Your Landscaping Design

Even if your plantings are in good shape, you may be ready for a change. Many homes were originally landscaped in the style that was popular in the 1950’s, the housing-development look. It usually consisted of a row of evergreens stretching across the front of the house, a pyramidal arborvitae or juniper at each corner, or globe specimens flanking the front steps, and spreading dwarf yews or junipers beneath the windows.

The old rule can be helpful in planning a foundation planting even if you don’t want to copy the older design of using all evergreens. Use tall plants at the corners of the building to frame it, small, spreading ones beneath the window where they will not block the light; and slightly larger plants, depending on the height of the house, at each side of the doorway to invite guest to the entrance.

The wide variety of available plants gives you almost unlimted choices. Since most flowering plants are less expensive than evergreens, you can also change the design from time to time, if you desire.

Most of us don’t want to entirely give up planting evergreens around our foundations. In much of North America, most deciduous plants are colorless and uninteresting during the winter months, but evergreens provide welcome color. Both coniferous evergreens (yews, arbovitaes, junipers, spruces, hemlocks, and firs) and broadleaf evergreens (boxwood, camellias, hollies, laurels, mountain laurels, and rhododendrons) brighten up a winter scene, especially in areas where there is now snow.

Add Some Edible Plants

Some people are now including food-producint plants in their landscaping. They use dwarf blueberries, currants, gooseberries, even vegetable plants and herbs instead of flowering shrubs for foundation plants. Sometimes they set dwarf fruit trees at the corners of buildings.

Add Color

More colorful and imaginative landscape designs often include flowering shrubs, perennials, annuals, and ground covers. Spring bulbs are also an important part of the scheme, because they are attractive and bring in the spring season. Then, after they finish blooming, bedding annuals tha flower all summer can take their place.

Perennials and annuals that are out of sight during the winter are good choices for spots where snow or ice might ruin evergreens or deciduous shrubs. Daylilies are great for placing around your home or around structures in sunny locations, while hostas, are planted in the shadier areas.

Add a Variety of Shrubs

If you prefer foundation bushes and shrubbery, low-growing plants such as potentilla, dwarf viburnum, bayberry, and weigela are good choices for sunny areas, and dwarf hemlocks and dwarf peegee hydrangeas theive in light shade.

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