Bushes and flowers have been planted around house foundations to hide ugly cement blocks or stones for centuries. During the Victorian Era, houses were built with high foundations and required large plants to hide them. Today foundations are not that tall and many varieties of plants are suitable for framing a house and giving it character.
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Shrubs are suitable for both high and low foundations. Choose foundation shrubs that do not mature higher than existing first floor windows. A window that is 3 feet off the ground requires a shrub that matures at a height less than 3 feet. Instead of placing shrubs in a straight line, mass them in groups of odd numbers, three to five, depending on the space allotted. Use a variety of deciduous and evergreen. Suitable shrubs include the Butterfly Bush, lilac, azalea, forsythia, hibiscus, hydrangea and snowball bush or other viburnum. All of these shrubs produce flowers. Evergreen shrubs include juniper, holly, cedar, arborvitae and euonymus.
If hiding the foundation is not the goal, ground cover plants placed around a house breaks up a sea of lawn. Ground cover can be used in conjunction with shrubs to extend the border around a house. Ground cover plants should only reach about 1-foot high. Easy care ground covers other than common pachysandra and myrtle include: common thyme, woolly thyme and elfin thyme. Thyme is a perennial and will come back every year and common thyme can be used in the kitchen. Small sedums, such as stubby fingers, grow close to the ground and spread between rocks and stones. Acre is another ground cover variety. Sedums are particularly good in dry, but not arid regions. Juniper that creeps is most often used as a ground cover near a house. Blue rug has a blue cast to the leaves.
Just about any flower including, bulbs, annuals, perennials or biennials is suitable for planting around the foundation of a house. Place flowers in front of a background of shrubs to frame the house in color. Flowers used as a border around shrubs makes the yard look manicured and neat. Use marigolds, ageratum, hosta, bachelor buttons, snapdragons, impatiens, and begonias to make the borders or use as specimen plants.