Foundation planting help for a small cottagey garden

sarahrock(6)September 16, 2010

Hi all! I have been expanding my front yard garden this year to slowly get rid of all the grass, and now have come to my final task: the foundation area. Suddenly, I am overwhelmed with ideas and conflicting information and can't seem to come to any conclusion about what I should plant there!

Previously there were (or are, actually) a couple of azaleas with red twig dogwoods on the corners. The azaleas seem to hate me (or the spot, or the soil) so they have to go. I rather like the dogwoods in the winter, but I'm not married to the idea of keeping them. There's also some well established lavender in the left bed that I love, but since I'm expanding the beds, suddenly they are in the middle and make no sense. And since they hate being transplanted, it is breaking my heart to think of losing them.

I have been thinking of putting something evergreen on either side of the stairs and under the window boxes, and roses in front of that, but I can't quite land on what sort of evergreen to use. I have also tossed around the idea of winterberry, more herbaceous perennials, edibles (evergreen blueberry, perhaps?) and a thousand other things that have occurred to me. I generally tend to choose my plants on a whim, but since this is an area I'd really like to get established, I'm trying to reign myself in and actually choose something that will work.

So, that said, the house faces south, but there is a smallish tree between the sidewalk and street that casts a little bit of shade on the left bed. Still, it's mostly sun. The soil is neutral and I've had no luck with acid loving plants anywhere in my yard (azaleas and mountain laurel that I had in the backyard). And I'm in zone 6a.

Here are some pics of the two beds, in their current state of disarray. (Randomly, the azaleas are labeled to show someone who wanted to buy them.):

Right bed:

Left bed:

And here's a full shot of the front of the house from earlier in the spring. The front bed comes all the way out to the path now, as will the foundation beds. The path itself is getting revamped from mulch to flagstone:

Sorry for the information overload. I hope someone can help!

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azalea don't like more face south sun light,or add shade,conifer are evergreen,you could add some.any flower lift are short,add shrub are better.other ideas:

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 5:23PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

While you're (probably) removing your current shrubs, consider painting the foundation white to match the siding.

And with a deeper foundation bed, try to leave space between the foundation shrubs and the house. This will allow for maintenance to the shrubs, also maintenance to the house, window-washing, easier access to the water faucet and the window boxes, etc. Ideally there should be at least a foot between the shrubs (at their mature size) and the house. I inherited foundation shrubs from the Previous Owners which are a good distance from the foundation -- and others which are right up against it. It makes a real difference!

I can't really suggest shrubs for you because I have very little experience with sunny areas in your zone. My best recommendation for sun would be one of the low pines or junipers which stay in the 2-4' height range. However, I have no idea how they do with the amount of snow you can have in New England.

You might get some ideas from UConn's Plant Database, which allows you to specify conditions, type of plant, size, etc.:
or MOBot's Plantfinder:
[Sometimes when you select too many characteristics, you get very few results. So while you'd prefer something that requires little maintenance, you might need to de-select that or a few other fields.]

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 6:45PM
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some little stone could increase plants alive feeling, protest sunny linght before shrubs mature.the shrub,herb should form some shape to avoid mess.if haven't any designing tree shape experience,use mature.curve walkway add nature sense.if you like maple,add it.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 11:04PM
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For evergreens in neutral soil, boxwood might be good. In my z5 it gets sunburnt in spring, but z6 is probably fine. If you really want acid-loving plants such as blueberries, you can make a raised peat garden for them (with landscape fabric underneath).
Dwarf conifers are fine under snow, if the snow isn't tightly packed. They might need protection from the spring sun in their first years.
Browse the Japanese spireas and barberries at the nursery to see which ones you like. Tip: "Macrophylla" has good fall color.
Try moving the lavender to the front, and plant more of it.
Cerastium is a nice contrasting ground cover for the front of bed.
Now when you add the roses, you might find your bed is full - or maybe there's room for some long-blooming annuals.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 5:56AM
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I always strive to increase the alive feeling in my plants ;)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 9:35AM
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Wow some really interesting responses on this forum. Haha. Well, I ended up going the perennial route... this weekend I planted the bed with blushing knockout roses, black adder agastache, rudbeckia goldsturm and hidcote lavender. Here's hoping it all works out!

Thanks for the suggestions, all!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 11:19AM
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