Foundation shrubs, whether evergreen or deciduous, lend visual appeal to a home. Evergreen shrubs like holly provide year-round foliage that protects the home from extreme heat or cold. This living insulation acts as a windbreak and disperses rainfall. Deciduous shrubs such as pygmy barberry shade the building foundation in summer and, after leaf drop, allow sun to warm the building in winter. Planting thorny or prickly shrubs such as pyracantha or dwarf holly shrubs deters intruders.
Foundation shrubs are planted to conceal the building foundation and blend the structure into the landscape. These shrubs soften the stark lines of a home and camouflage exposed house footings, plumbing and other functional components. Shrubs with compact roots are not invasive and do not negatively affect the foundation’s structural integrity.
Mass plantings with low-growing, shallow-rooted junipers reduce lawn expanse while softening the foundation appearance. Many evergreen shrubs form dense hedges along an exterior home wall. Typical hedge shrubs with compact roots include boxwood and yew. Choose dwarf cultivars or prune regularly to maintain the hedge shape. Flowering shrubs like camellia are not root-invasive and are favored for their colorful flowers and glossy foliage. For doorway arches or other decorative effects, plant vines such as clematis or native honeysuckle that use small root spaces.
Drought-tolerant shrubs with compact roots include rosemary, lavender and spirea. These woody shrubs, available in dwarf varieties, need little water and enjoy sun exposure. Prune them as desired, using the rosemary for culinary needs and the lavender for crafts. Shade-tolerant shrubs, such as dwarf hydrangea and chokeberry, like moist, well-drained locations and need organic soils. Varieties such as azalea offer both sun and shade cultivars, with evergreen and deciduous hybrids. Their roots fit small spaces and are non-invasive.
Foundation shrubs with compact roots are easy to plant, as they do not require extensive ground preparation, but design is as critical with these easy-planters as with other shrubs. Plan the foundation landscape carefully, laying out areas of mass plantings, specimens, hedges or accent plants. Many garden centers and internet sites offer software templates so that you can profile your home and add visual plants before digging the first hole. Think about climate, sun and weather exposure, as well as eye appeal. This is the time to consider drip irrigation or xeriscape plants to conserve water. Remember that if you change your mind as the foundation shrubs grow, you can change out these compact root shrubs in a weekend.
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