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Medium growing, "airy" shrub for foundation planting? Ideas for a mama new to ornamental...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey all you garden folks!  I could use a suggestion for foundation plants in front of my south-facing mid-Atlantic home.  We've been here three years and haven't found something suitable for that space.  


There was a bushy cedar type tree there when we moved in and we cut it down because it was blocking so much light.  This year I planted a veggie garden there thinking they would like the heat but I had trouble keeping up with the watering needs and, also, the garden looked a bit "messy" right next to the house (especially for my husband's taste).  


Log story short, I'm now looking to go a more traditional route.  Here's the type of plant I'm looking for: 


Something relatively short (3-4 feet) and airy (we want the architectural features on the house to show)


Something somewhat medium (or fast?) growing - I don't want to plant a shrub that will take years to fill in and look right in the space.  I'm one of those terrible impatient gardeners.  A slow growing shrub is out of the question...no matter how wonderful.  


Evergreen would be cool but I'm open to even a beautiful perennial that dies to the ground in winter.  


I'm open to all looks - traditional mid-Atlantic foundations plants are fine (they seem so non-fuss and would fit in well).  I also like other styles.


I'm open to flowering or not.  


The soil isn't great and the area is hot - south facing - and I'm not a great waterer.  


Thanks for your help!!  

post #2 of 6

I would plant something that gives something edible.How about some nanking cherry bushes? Blueberry? Currant?


I have a smoke bush and a smallish tree that was planted next to the home.I like the smoke bush,but not so close.I plan to cut out both.And again I am really into plants that give back not just look pretty.


Some low growing bamboo might be good.Ornamental grasses.Both grow in fast. I have grasses of different height.They grow fast.


For water can you direct a down spout to that area. Previous owners did the pipes underground,but they were clogged,and besides such a waste of good water.I cut all the down spouts,and either redirected to a flower bed or into a garbage can(aka rain barrel).


post #3 of 6

One of my favorite shrubs that meets your qualifications is a Korean Spice Bush. I don't know if I'd call them airy (that makes me think of a willow or a fern that looks light and graceful), but they have an open habit as long as you don't prune them, so you can see the house through the branches. They also smell heavenly in the spring when they are in flower. I've had mine for 4 years now, and is about chest high. It was maybe a 12 or 18 inch high shrub when I planted it. It is absolutely troublefree and requires no maintenance at all. After the first year, I haven't really watered it at all, even, and have never fertilized or pruned it.




post #4 of 6

The willow family has nice plants that are "airy". I see them used all the time on HGTV. Here's a link to what they can look like. This will lose its leaves in winter.



post #5 of 6

I see lots of grasses planted near houses around here.  You could use them as the height and wow factor, and fill in with plants that are native, or black eye susan, marigolds, swiss chard, etc.  I also love butterfly and hummingbird attracters, like butterfly bushed, russian sage...


If you want something more formal, you could do boxwoods. I like them a lot.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the ideas!  It's so fun to think about gardening in the middle of winter.  I haven't decided yet on the majority of foundation plants but I do think I'm now pretty set on a climbing rose as one of the main accents.  We had an arched front and I'd like it to climb up the archway.  I may use that as my starting point.  In which case, I'll probably plant another rose or two and then plant around those.  


I've also been looking at plants this fall/winter and I'm noticing that a lot of the foundation planting that I like incorporates a rather tall shrub or even a small tree planted very close to the house.  I'm tempted to do this as well along with the rose...

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