Planting a Foundation


Spring is in the air – or at least it feels like it here in Central Virginia. With temperatures into the 60s, many of us are spending more time outside and, possibly, looking at green or yellow lawns that draw attention to that area where house meets land. That intersection can be unsettlingly stark, leaving your home looking less than inviting.

Make a great first impression and rev up the marketability of your home with eye-catching plantings that hide foundation walls. The right foundation planting for most houses is a nice mix of evergreen and deciduous material.  Evergreens provide the structural element of the beds year-round, deciduous and flowering shrubs add texture, and perennials of varying heights provide eye-catching bursts of color.


Rhododendron is a favorite for showy spring flowers and glossy green leaves. ‘Yaku Prince’ blooms with funnel-shaped pink flowers and grows to 3 feet high and wide with olive-green leaves. Slow-growing, dwarf, or compact varieties are a smart choice, especially under windows.

Littleleaf Boxwood

The Boxwood is a perennial favorite. Among the more compact boxwoods, ‘Green Velvet’ has pale green leaves and a mounding habit that can grow to 4 feet high and wide. ‘Winter Gem’ reaches a similar size but with yellowish-green leaves;

Japanese Pieris

Dense habit with branches that reach to the ground. ‘Cavatine’ has leathery, dark green leaves with bell-like white flowers in spring. Can grow to 3 feet high and wide.


Look for slow-growing ‘Compacta,’ which has dark green leaves and a rounded shape, and grows to 4 feet high and 6 feet wide.

Japanese Yew

These are the shorter, slower-growing cultivars that are easiest to keep in check. Female ‘Densa’ has dark needles with red berries in winter. Can reach 4 feet high and 8 feet wide.


Smooth Hydrangea

These showy, reliable bloomers can be placed under a window where you can enjoy them from both outside and inside. ‘Annabelle’ has white blooms in summer, while ‘Bella Anna’ produces pink flowers until fall. Both grow up to 5 feet high and wide.

Virginia Sweetspire

Its dark green leaves turn yellow-orange, reddish-purple, and crimson in the fall. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ has 6-inch-long spikes of fragrant white flowers and can grow up to 4 feet high and 6 feet wide.


Knockout Rose

The Knockout is a compact shrub covered with red flowers from spring until frost. Can grow up to 4 feet high and wide. Make even more of a statement with ‘Radtko’ with double flowers.


Catmint adds hardy, drought-tolerant color anywhere along your foundation. Catmint (a cousin of catnip) is happiest in dry, hot weather, and can thrive in average but well-drained soil.

Tall spikes of tiny blue or purple flowers that are best clumped together for a punch of color. ‘Walker’s Low’ has fragrant lavender-blue flowers on 24-inch-tall stems that can grow to 3 feet wide. ‘Blue Wonder’ is more compact, with dark blue flower.



Joy-inspiring daisy-like yellow flowers open in early summer on tall stalks with fine, green foliage. ‘Zagreb’ has golden flower heads, while ‘Grandiflora’ is a darker yellow. Both can grow to 18 inches high and wide.


Add pops of color with violet, pink, or white flowers and green leaves from summer to fall. ‘Ostfriesland’ is a smaller purple salvia, reaching 18 inches high and wide.


What are some of your favorite picks for foundation plantings?


One thought on “Planting a Foundation

  1. On one side of the house, we have rhododendrons and azaleas intermingled with blueberry bushes for pretty AND edible landscaping. Not that we’re trying to sell, but down the road when we do, we’ll have some very established plantings that include bluberries!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s