Foundation plantings

Resist crowding your residence with too many plants. Closely spaced plants may be attractive right after planting, but poor air circulation will lead to disease and pest problems. You want a long lifespan for your landscaping, not to have to replace it every few years! Know the mature sizes of plants to be used in your foundation plantings. The beds surrounding your residence are visually critical because they provide visi­tors with a first impression.

Place accent trees with broad crowns, such as crape myrtles, far enough away from buildings that the canopy has ample room to grow. Determine the mature width you can expect for a tree you would like to use, and divide that width in half. Measure this distance out from the building and mark it. This is the minimum distance for the center of the tree on your plan. You may need to go out a bit farther if you have deep eaves on your house.

Accent plants can be used on the corners and in front of blank walls of your residence. Do not overcrowd plants near your front entrance, as they will grow out of proportion and may require intensive maintenance. Color and texture can be used near your front door to lead the eye to your entrance. However, it is not necessary to use large areas of color and texture to have an impact. Even a small amount of color will draw attention to an area. Layer the shrubs in the planting
beds by their height, from high­est to lowest. A border of low shrubs or groundcovers may be used along the bed edge, if desired.

Siding, eaves, and roof drip lines Locate plants away from house siding, eaves, and drip lines. Siding can rot or mildew when crowded by plants. Never dig in or spread organic mulch over termite treatment bands. Dry soil under house eaves is a problem when there are no gut­ters. The force of water falling from the roof can be quite strong, damaging plants, splash­ing soil against the base of the house, and eroding the soil below. River rock or limestone gravel added below the drip line aids drainage and reduces water damage. Space plants to avoid downspouts connected to underground drainage pipe. Screening air conditioning units Dense evergreen hedges are not a wise choice to use for screening air conditioning units, as they can restrict access and air flow to the unit and require fre­quent pruning. Instead, use plants with an informal, open structure, located away from the unit. Consider screening units from only one side if they are visible from only one angle, such as a street view. Lattice screens are effective and can be one, two, or three-sided. Use vines on the lattice, a well-situated plant, or nothing at all.

Sun and shade exposure

Some homes have a contrast in sun exposure along the front of the residence, which presents a challenge if you want to provide landscape beds that "match" on both sides. A large tree may provide shade on one side, while full sun conditions exist on the other. If you want to have a unified, formal bal­ance, use "chameleon" species that grow well in either sun or shade.