Planting bushes along the front, sides and even back of your house helps to visually tie the house to the land that surrounds it. The foundation plantings, have a way of softening the transition from the rolling lawn, to the house that is jutting out of it. This post is about a few things that you should think about when siting foundation plants by your house.
Too often, when I walk in my neighborhood, or drive around, I see that many people have planted foundation plants too close to their houses. Before planting your foundation plants, take these 3 things into consideration.
Number 1 ..Will you be washing the windows that are behind the foundation plantings? If so, leave 3 feet of space (the width of a standard 6 foot ladder is 22 inches, and some extra space for good measure), from the front, side, or back wall of your house, to where you think the back edge of your mature-established bushes will be. This will give you room to walk behind them, set up the ladder, and wash the windows (this also applies to painting the house).
Secondly ..Think about your roof, its overhang, and the drip edge of your roof. Every time it rains, water will be falling off of the edge of your house’s roof, right onto the bushes which will damage them and erode the soil. You might say I have gutters. If you live in a cold climate, even with gutters, icicles can form, will drip, and can fall onto the foundation plants growing below them. Even with gutters, you must have a way of getting close to them for occasional cleaning. You should always plant foundation plants so that when mature, their back sides are past the drip edge of your house.
Third ..When contemplating how far from your house to plant foundation plants, also consider the width and height the bush will be at maturity. An upright, pyramidal or spreading yew, etc, that looks small now, in 5 to 10 years will be much bigger. Look at the plant tag to see how wide and tall the plant grower thinks it will grow. Those numbers are averages, if the plant likes where you site it, it could grow even bigger.
Take the suggested width dimensions, divide them in half, and add that to the amount of space you have already allotted for the window washing ladder, or drip edge.
You might say I have windows that can be cleaned from inside, so I can plant foundation plants right up against the house. Foundation plants, especially evergreens, need light and air movement to stay green and healthy on all sides. If you plant them too close to your house, they will not have proper photosynthesis (light collection) on the side facing the house. The light deprived side will start to die off.
Leaving space for air circulation and sunlight around your house is also important. It keeps moisture / dampness down, which does not encourage moss or mold to grow on your clapboard, shingles, or bricks.
Now look at the illustration. In the upper drawing, notice the amount of space I have allotted for the ladder and window washing, and foundation plants. In the lower drawing, notice the overhang of the roof, with drip edge, and the amount of space needed for foundation plants. The choice in the end is yours. When allowing for space, a little more is better than less, in the long run.
I hope these 3 bits of information have inspired you. Happy Foundation Planting!
Foundation Plants, Laying out Foundation Plants in Front of Your Home 9-28-2013,
Putting Foundation Plants across the Front of your House 10-21-2013,
Applying Fertilizer / Weed Control on the Lawn 4-27-2011,
Why Rake Leaves, Grind them with the Mower 11-15-2010,
Got Grass growing out onto your Sidewalk or Driveway?…Edge it! 8-26-2012,
Dividing Miscanthus Grass not easy, but you can do it. 12-12-2011,
It’s Easy to Grow Pussywillows 2-15-2012,
Siting a Garden Shed on Your Property 6-9-2012,
Picking the Right Paint or Siding Color(s) for your Home 10-19-2011,
How to Plant (Design) a garden..Mass versus Specimen planting 2-17-2011,
When Designing a Garden it’s All about the Shapes of Leaves 1-15-2011,
Evergreens in the Garden in the Garden 1-31-2012,
Planting a tree by Your House 4-26-2012.
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Thank you for a great article in addition to a visual including a ladder and drip edge of gutter.
I know the rule about the ladder and window cleaning access but the drip edge is new to me.
Too often I see homeowners, builders, landscapers, etc, planting way too close to the house.
I just want to yell “STOP”!
Your article should be published in garden centers around the country.
Or at least a poster of your drawings.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Hi there KD, thank you for your nice words. Happy Spring, and Happy planting to you!
Thank you! This is exactly the info I was looking for. I appreciate your illustrations!
Good information. One reason I didn’t notice was rainfall. I once planted four burning bushes in a newly established foundation bed, too close to the house. Because they didn’t get rainfall, I had to water them more often, separately from other plantings.