Planting a Good Foundation Garden for Curb Appeal

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Last week I talked about Refreshing the Mailbox Garden and the top plants and flowers to add to this garden space. This week I want to continue to look at the gardens that provide the most curb appeal to passersby. That being said, I am going to be very forthright in saying, our front and side porch foundation gardens have been tended to the least. This whole area is in desperate need of an overhaul.

It’s been a real eye opening experience to write a blog series about What’s in My Garden and in all honesty I have neglected this garden space. I think it mostly came down to not knowing much about foundation gardening; even though I know having a good foundation garden increases your home’s curb appeal. I also touched on briefly in Planting For Visitors A Butterfly Garden Tour that we need to raise one garden bed up; which will ultimately require us to raise the garden bed on the opposite side of the stairs. That is the space I’ll be talking about today.

Isn’t this a picture perfect pathway and garden space?! I just love freshly overhauled yards and this picture was taken just after we had our pathway redone along with having a small pathway garden carved out to the right (the butterfly garden is to the left). I’m always so proud to admit that the curving design of the pathway was all my idea. It fit the gardens much better than “L” shaped big square paver pathway we replaced. At this same time this was done my husband updated our porch stairs because the step grade wasn’t quite right on the original set of stairs (it was a little too steep).

This was all completed when we were a little garden naive should we say. The reason I loved the little pathway garden to the right is because the barberry bushes and spirea plants were small. Little did I know how big they’d get. Now it now looks like a jungle and you can barely see the beauty of the butterfly garden from the road. We trim them back every year and yet every summer you wouldn’t even know we touched them. Plus, they have spilled over onto the pathway which takes away nearly one-fourth to one-half of the walking space (not to mention the weeds we are now getting in between the pavers).

Today the conical evergreen is no longer there. The sun proved too much for it in that space so we moved it to the back by the gazebo. We planted bleeding hearts on either sides of the steps and they have blossomed and thrived amazingly. Beyond that, our foundation gardens are a mess. On the corner of the porch there was a mid-sized flowering japanese cherry tree (which is now also gone). It was great for privacy but it over took the whole beauty of the wrap around porch. That’s the focal of the house, so we pulled the tree and gave it away.

When ever we do anything in the garden, I always try to recycle whatever I can. We will only buy when we need a specific plant or bush. The picture above is more representative of the foundation garden footprint that is there today. Again, I love how clean and open the area looks (even without mulch). That’s our dog, Lucy (she was so young!).

While the footprint is pretty much still the same, the two weigela bushes have not grown symmetrical and look horrible. Everything has grown and filled in too. Then to make matters worse, a friend gave me a butterfly bush that wasn’t thriving in her yard. I can’t pass up a butterfly bush! Just to see if it grow, I planted it between the last two hosta plants. Today, it’s a beast! So the whole front garden looks a mess, the side garden is pared down in comparison but it’s mostly shade so the plants are not the same as in the front.

While I don’t dislike the butterfly bush (if you plant one it’ll always deliver with beautiful visitors), I feel like it gets lost in the ‘garden jungle’. So as you can see, our foundation garden needs a lot of work. But not all is lost (and no, I won’t be getting rid of that butterfly bush). The first step to revamping or creating a foundation garden is to decide if you want to opt for the standard all green row of shrubs; or add in some visual interest with flowering perennials, groundcovers, broad-leaf evergreen shrubs and even a tree.

Personally, I’ll be opting for option #2 as I look to revamp this garden space (fingers-crossed, stayed tuned in 2022 for the reveal!). I don’t think our house style would even support an all green row of shrubs and be able to truly shine with that style of foundation garden. Another challenge I have to take into consideration is the number of bees we have around the house. It’s so bad, we can’t even sit on porch. But, that’s for me to figure out. So let’s start by taking a look at some foundation garden options to consider.

Good Foundation Plants and Shrubs:

  • Rhododendron
  • Little leaf boxwood (such as ‘winter gem boxwood’)
  • Japanese pieris
  • Ink berry
  • Japanese yew
  • Deciduous flowering shrubs (such as ‘slender deutzia’ and ‘bridal wreath spirea’)
  • Smooth hydrangea
  • Japanese spirea
  • Virginia sweetspire
  • Knockout rose
  • Flowering perennials: true geranium
  • Catmint
  • Tickseed
  • Salvia
  • Shasta daisy

When planning and planting your foundation garden, always plant the tallest in the back and shortest in the front. That keeps it visually interesting and allows you to see all that is planted without obstruction (such as with our small pathway garden….the plants are just too tall and you can’t see the butterfly garden).

How beautiful is this pink creeping phlox?! I received a bunch of it from our past neighbors and I’ve actually taken pieces of the original plant we were given and transplanted some to our other gardens. It’s such a beautiful shade of pink with a white edge on each petal and it spills over rock gardens perfectly.

Good Ground Cover Plants:

  • Liriope
  • Ivy
  • Creeping juniper
  • Periwinkle
  • Sweet woodruff

Now that we finished talking about planting a good foundation garden for curb appeal come back next week when I’ll share with you how and where I relax in the garden.

If you are inspired to create a foundation garden or revamp your own garden don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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