According to an article by Michelle Le Strange, University of California's Master Garden Advisor, shrubs are foundation plantings, and it is important to plan for their mature size when choosing them. This may be especially true when planting shrubs in front of a window. Le Strange recommends keeping shrubs even with, or slightly above, the level of the window and at least 3 feet away from the home's foundation.
Low-growing Shrubs with Fall Color
Barberry rose glow is an ideal plant for growing under a high window, such as is typically found in a window or kitchen. As is true with most varieties of barberry, rose glow produces thorns so growing them under street-level windows may add a layer of protection to your home. Rose glow requires full to partial sun and grows 4 to 5 feet high. Its rose pink foliage turns crimson as the growth matures and it produces yellow flowers in the spring as well as fruit in the fall. Rose glow can be grown in zones 4 to 9.
Barberry sunjoy gold pillar provides color through each season. New foliage is red then turns to a golden yellow with maturity. In autumn the leaves are bright orange and red. It grows 3 to 4 feet high and fills in quickly. The sunjoy requires full sun and grows in zones 4 to 7.
Low-growing Shrubs that Flower
Pink flowering almond fits well under a window at its mature height of 4 to 5 feet and blooms a profusion of pink flowers in the spring. Foliage is green with bronze hues. Pink flowering almond requires full to partial sun and can be grown in zones 3 to 8.
Hydrangea is a flowering shrub that adds classic beauty to the landscape. There are many cultivars of hydrangea that can be grown beneath a window. Cityline Berlin produces pink blossoms in the summer and grows 2 to 3 feet high. Hydrangea incrediball produces massive 12-inch white flowers that grow in a ball shape. Incrediball grows 4 to 5 feet high. Hydrangea nikko blue produces traditional blue flowers in the summer and grows 5 to 6 feet tall. All hydrangeas require partial sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Low-growing Evergreen Shrubs
Boxwood wintergreen is often used in low-growing hedges, but is a nice choice to plant beneath a window if you prefer a more formal landscape or want a plant that can be shaped. Wintergreen grows 3 to 4 feet high and can adapt to full sun, partial sun or shade. It is a low-maintenance shrub that only needs occasional light pruning. It can be grown in zones 4 to 9.
Cotoneaster coral beauty is a low-growing shrub that has it all; prolific white blooms in the spring, coral-red fruit that appears in the fall and lasts into winter and evergreen leaves with an attractive white edging. It grows quickly and reaches a height of 2 to 3 feet, making it ideal for planting beneath low windows. Cotoneaster requires full to partial sun and grows in zones 5 to 8.