Foundation Shrubs for Shade

Shrubs are a suitable choice for foundation plantings, which are meant to disguise or cover a building's foundation. For part of the year, foundation areas are often shaded. Choosing shrubs that thrive in these areas can make your home more attractive, while adding various colors, textures, shapes and sizes to your landscape. Foundation shrubs can be similar in height or different heights to create any effect you desire.

  1. Canadian Hemlock

    • This towering evergreen tree, reaching a height of 80 feet tall and 40 feet wide in its natural habitat, comes in a compact shrub form to use for foundation plantings. The Canadian hemlock, also called Eastern hemlock, is a large shrub when pruned regularly to keep it within its boundaries. As a large-sized shrub, hemlock can grow to 25 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Dwarf varieties of Canadian hemlock include 'Bennett, 'Beehive' and 'Gentsch White.' The 'Bennett' and 'Beehive' varieties are three to five feet tall and wide, while 'Gentsch White' is four feet tall with a similar spread. Hemlock thrives in well-drained soil located in partial to full shade. Sunscorch is a possibility if it receives too much. Canadian hemlock is hardy in zones 4 to 7.

    Leatherleaf Mahonia

    • Leatherleaf mahonia adds color and texture to a landscape. This slow-growing dense evergreen prefers partial to full shade in hardiness zones 6b to 9a. Leatherleaf is a compact shrub, growing five to 10 feet tall and three to four feet wide. Spikes of citrus-scented bright yellow flowers bloom in the late winter or early spring and stand out against the glossy, blue-green to gray-green holly-like leaves. In early summer, peanut-sized gray-blue to purplish-blue berries appear in large clusters, which draw a variety of birds.

    Privet

    • A privet shrub is a fast-growing evergreen available in a variety of sizes to fit your landscaping needs. The variegated Chinese privet shrub has small leaves that are yellowish to white and reaches 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Japanese privet is slightly taller at 15 to 18 feet and blooms in the spring with large clusters of white flowers. Green berries appear on the shrub after the blooms fade. The berries are a dull black when ripe, staying on the shrub through the winter. A dwarf variety of privet is available that is less than 5 feet tall. Privet shrubs need to be pruned often to keep them from blocking windows and spreading out too much. Privet shrubs are hardy in zones 8 to 10.

    American Boxwood

    • American boxwood, also called common boxwood, is hardy in zones 6 to 8 and can be pruned into almost any shape. It looks like a globe, with a softly rounded shape, when left unpruned. It thrives in partially shaded areas. Boxwood shrubs have dense, dark green, fine-textured foliage with an average height of six to eight feet and older shrubs can be up to 20 feet tall. It's cold-tolerant, moderately drought-tolerant and thrives in almost any soil. Its small, pale green flowers bloom in early spring, but aren't noticeable from a distance.

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