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Feb Aiken

Foundation Plants - Setting The Stage For A Grand Performance

By Amanda Whatley Owen

web posted February 27, 2018
GARDENING –  A new home is a fresh canvas for new plants.  Or maybe, yours is an established home and you have some new ideas.  Either way foundation plants are the key to starting your landscape design.
The idea of foundation plants is to simply enhance your home. The name foundation plants, comes from what these plants do for your home.  Not only do they fill gaps between all your flowering perennials and annuals, but they also hide your foundation.  This can be particularly important if your home has long solid lines.  Landscapers sometimes refer to these as hard lines.  Foundation plants can help break up the hard lines lending a softer, more inviting look to visitors.
Another reason for foundation plants is to help insulate the foundation of your home. Blocking the sun's rays helps keep heat from radiating to your crawl space during summer.  During the winter these foundation plants act as a wind break cutting down on drafts.  Either way, they help us conserve energy and every penny counts.
Foundation plants are what I call a base plant within a landscape.  Most often, they are evergreen shrubs.  You can create a formal foundation with plants such as 'Wintergreen' Boxwoods, 'Carissa' Holly, or even a 'Soft Touch' Holly.  Typically, these type evergreens keep a compacted look making it easy to keep hedges trimmed for that formal look.
Personally, I love a free, native look with foundation plants such as: 'Emerald Green' Arborvitae, 'Sasaqua and Japonica Camellias, Variegated Pittosporum, Knock out roses, Loropetalums, and even Indian Hawthorns.
A foundation plant should be a low maintenance plant that will tie in all your smaller, flowering perennials and annuals. A good candidate will typically be drought tolerant once established, and thrive in sun or part sun.  Take the height of your foundation into consideration when selecting your foundation plants.  How much of it would you like to cover?  Also be mindful of the height of the plant that you select to go under windows.
Some enjoy playing with the textures of plants as well as the varieties and colors to help enhance their home's beauty.  I have seen where some folks add small trees such as Little gem Magnolias to the corners of their homes to create the illusion of a larger home.
A key factor about placement of these shrubs is… the best landscapes are asymmetrical, they are not even on both sides of the entry way to the home and they do not go in a straight line across the front of your home. Give them flow.  Bring one forward and push one a little further back, add five to one side of the bed and 7 to the other.
A few things to also remember for sure when selecting these foundation plants are not to plant them on top of each other and leave some space between them and your home so you can easily maneuver around them for home or plant maintenance.
Fertilize them twice a year with a general purpose, slow release fertilizer, like 10-10-10.  Once in the spring and again in the fall.  Once your foundation plants are in place then you can fill in with your favorite flowering perennials and annuals which we will get to next week in Mandy's Friendly Garden. .

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