How Close to the House Foundation Should You Plant Small Rose Bushes?

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Grow roses as foundation plants if their basic requirements are met.
Grow roses as foundation plants if their basic requirements are met. (Image: pink roses image by Nicky Jacobs from Fotolia.com)

With thoughtful planning and careful placement, small rose bushes are a beautiful addition to the foundation plantings that hide unattractive foundations and harmonize a building with the surrounding landscape. Keep in mind the characteristics of the rose bush, the likely soil PH and drainage in the areas just around a building foundation, and your future home maintenance needs as you plan for the best results.

Rose Requirements

Sun is critical for roses, both for plant health and successful blooming, so make sure the location will allow for at least six to eight hours of full sunlight during the growing season.

Roses drink and feed heavily to support their lavish blooms, and so the next consideration when planning a rose as a foundation planting is whether or not the proposed planting site will provide enough moisture. Yet roses also require well-drained soil. Eaves above a foundation will block some rainfall, but it's important that the soil around the foundation of a house drain rainfall quickly away from the foundation. The soil near the foundation might be rather dry, and watering or irrigation systems must be carefully installed so as to prevent moisture problems in the foundation.

The soil surrounding a cement structure is likely to become more alkaline over time as the lime in the concrete leaches into the soil and sweetens it. Roses like a slightly sweet soil, but do a PH test to ascertain if you'll need to correct the soil if it's in a range too alkaline for roses.

Roses are more susceptible to fungal diseases if there isn't adequate air circulation surrounding them, so plant the roses with adequate space between it and the foundation, and allow space between it and other plantings as well. Two feet between rose bushes or between rose bushes and other plantings is adequate for small rose bushes. Allow at least 8 inches between the rose bush and the foundation: A foot would allow easier access to the rose when you need to prune or spray it.

Foundation Preservation Requirements

Don't forget to allow space between your foundation plantings and the foundation to allow painting or repair or other home maintenance chores. Also, too much moisture trapped near the foundation can exacerbate water problems. It's best to keep small shrub plantings at least 2 feet from the foundation to avoid water problems. If your soil is expansive (it shrinks dramatically when dry and expands when wet), keep plantings 5 feet away from the foundation. Keep wood chip mulch at least 12 inches from the foundation in areas of the country in which termites are a problem.

Aesthetic Concerns

Although roses are beautiful and fragrant during the growing season, remember that they go dormant during the winter: Without their foliage and blooms, rose bushes have a stark appearance. Also, small rose bushes are short, and so may be more effective with a backdrop planting of taller, perhaps evergreen plants between them and the foundation. Finally, consider the thorny nature of the rose bush when planning your foundation planting: Place the roses carefully so that you don't get scraped when doing routine daily maintenance chores such as reaching for the water faucet, checking the mail or washing windows.

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