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How to Choose the Best Foundation Plants for Your Front Yard

Choosing the best foundation plants for the front of your house can be tricky. But don’t stress! We’re sharing some great tips to help you select the right shrubs for your landscape design.

The plants and trees were looking a bit messy in the front of our house after 15 years.

So over the past few years, we started removing some of the overgrown shrubs in our foundation planting beds.

Since we had some extra space we planted some beautiful hydrangeas.

But we made a mistake by not reading the tag before buying and installing the new plants.

And guess what happened?

Those gorgeous hydrangeas grew way too big for the area in just short two years.

After struggling with trying to keep some of the bushes from growing taller than our windows we decided it was time to rip everything out and start over.

My husband and I came up with a new landscape design plan for the front of our house that you can read all about here.

Once we had a plan in place we needed to figure out what type of shrubs to plant.

If you’re trying to replace plants or even starting fresh I’ve got some tips for you that helped us when choosing the best foundation plants for our home.

Do Your Research on Plants that Grow well in Your Area

laptop open researching plants at table

The most important step in choosing the correct bushes for your landscape design is to know a little bit about each plant before buying them.

Once you get to the garden center it can be overwhelming with all the choices in front of you.

The one good thing is that local nurseries will usually only sell what will grow well in your planting zone.

But if you plan to purchase any of your plants online make sure that particular shrub will grow successfully in your location.

Know your planting zone before getting started.

For reference, we live in North Carolina where our planting zone is 7b.

Browse Garden Centers for Inspiration for Landscape

cypress dwarf shrubs in black garden pots

Since there are so many shrubs, plants, and trees to choose from once you get to a nursery you’ll want to have an idea of what you like.

Having a landscape design plan will help you stay focused on your end goal.

It’s really hard not to get swept up by all the beautiful options.

Chris and I visited several garden centers over a few weekends to see what was readily available to install in our area.

garden center information sign near potted plants

I took lots of pictures of the plants I liked so I could reference them after we got home.

Having the names of the shrubs enabled us to research them up later and view photos online of what the bush would look like when fully grown.

It’s hard to imagine what a mature plant will look like when it’s in a pot surrounded by hundreds of other plants.

Decide on a Style for your Foundation Plantings

shrubs on gravel in garden center

You’ll need to decide the type of foundation plants you want to install.

Do you want deciduous or evergreen shrubs?

Will you mix in flowering bushes or perennials?

What about adding small trees?

Previously, all the shrubs in the front of our house were green with the exception of two flowering crepe myrtle trees that bloomed pink throughout the summer but were bare all winter.

red evergreen shrubs in pots at nursery

We decided we wanted to have a variety of colors in our new landscape plan.

Planting flowering bushes would provide the color we craved.

However, we also wanted most of the plants to be evergreen because we don’t like having an empty flower bed during the winter months.

Choosing evergreen shrubs with green, red, and gold tones would allow us to have the color we wanted throughout the year.

Don’t Forget to Read Informational Tags and Signs for Shrubs

tag hanging from shrub with plant detail

Whether you’re browsing around the garden centers for ideas or actually purchasing your shrubs be sure to read the tags hanging from the plants.

There is a wealth of information for consumers on those little labels.

And if there isn’t a tag hanging from the plant or a stake in the pot then there will most likely be a sign nearby with all the pertinent details.

A description of the plant, growth rate and size, hardiness, and sunlight should all be found for each plant.

Pay attention to all of these details when choosing the best foundation shrubs for the front of your home.

How to Select the Right Size Front Yard Plants

garden shop information card hanging above shrubs for sale

Don’t make the mistake I did when chosing plants to install in the front of your home.

Be sure to determine the size each shrub will be once mature.

Remember they’ll always look tiny at first but read those tags to see how large they’ll actually be when fully grown.

Keep in mind not only the height but also the width of each plant.

Knowing the dimensions of the bushes will also help determine exactly where to plant them, the distance from your house and how close together they can be installed.

How to Choose Low Growing Shrubs

autumn angel azalea plant with information card

If you want to maintain low growing shrubs for your foundation hedges so that they won’t grow so tall they cover your windows and block your view, consider dwarf varities.

Many popular plants have a smaller version so that your bushes don’t grow so large they impact the overall curb appeal of your home.

Chris absolutely loves azaleas (he may drool watching the Master’s at Augusta National…lol) and really wanted to incorporate some in our new landscape design.

However, many azalea varieties require more shade than we have in the front of our house and they often grow to be a very large bush.

We found Autumn Angel azaleas that were more sun tolarent and also dwarf sized so they’d be perfect for us.

informational sign for plant at garden center

To replace my favorite beautiful limelight hydrangea plants we were able to find hydrangea little lime.

The hydrangea that I had planted were only a couple years old and not mature yet but were already at least 5 feet.

Fully grown those limelights would be 6 to 8 feet tall and wide but the little limes will only grow to be 3 to 5 feet.

How to Add Trees to House Foundation Planting Beds

green house filled with new trees

You may think that trees are out of the question right next to your house but I’m here to tell you…they’re not.

Just like shrubs there are different variations of trees.

We had crepe myrtle trees that were too big and eventually blocked the view out of our windows with branches that hit the siding of the house.

But there are smaller ornamental trees that would be amazing in a foundation landscape design.

trees for sale for landscape design

Since we live in the south now (I’m originally from New Jersey) we’ve got to have Magnolia trees.

We planted what we thought was a small magnolia in our backyard and it’s grown to be well over 25 feet tall but we absolutely love it!

It’s still fairly slim so maybe it is a smaller version because have you seen how large regular magnolias get?

Anyway, we wanted to add another one in the front yard so we found this Little Gem Magnolia that will only grow to be 15 to 20 feet.

We will plant it at the end of our foundation on the corner of our house where the yard slopes down.

How to Choose the Best Foundation Plants

cart filled with plants at store outdoors

Once we followed all the tips I’ve shared and selected the shrubs varities we wanted Chris and I headed out to purchase the new shrubs and trees.

When choosing foundation plants at a garden center pick the healthiest looking shrub of the bunch.

I may have been a bit particular about this step…lol.

But it’s a lot of money to invest and I wanted them to start out super healthy.

man standing in middle of shrubs in pots laid out around him in garden center

Even though I had put together a design plan it was hard for me to visualize exactly how they were going to look.

So the person assisting us suggested we lay everything out in the back so I could “see it” all put together.

Such a great idea to do if you’re able to pull it off while shopping.

Chris was a good sport and even pretended he was the small dogwood tree that was being planted in the middle of our flower bed. Ha-ha-ha

Stay tuned because I’ll be sharing how to remove large shrubs and trees to get your flower beds ready to redesign soon!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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