> Shrub Blog Series – Part Two – Foundation Plantings

If you want a
stunning presentation, you need a solid foundation! Welcome to part three of our shrub series: Foundation Plantings! We go over how to design your
perfect New England landscape in a previous blog entry. With foundation
plantings, you want to be thinking about the structure of your home. Is there
anything you want to cover up? Does a corner look too harsh? Think of the big
picture in terms of what you want to accomplish with your yard. Here are some
of our top picks, chosen for interest and hardiness during the four dramatic
seasons of New England weather.
1. The Boxwood 
A versatile plant with a number of variations
(over 200, to be precise), this is a top pick for many landscapers as a
foundation planting, and can function for multiple purposes around your
yard. Each variety boasts a different height and spread, so be mindful of what
you are looking for in terms of dimension. One of our favorites is the “Winter Gem”
variety, which grows up to six feet tall and six feet wide. Not only is it one
of the hardiest options, which makes it ideal for New England’s wild seasons,
but it can gain a bronze hue during the winter and is the first to change green
again in spring. Does well in partial to full sun and requires regular
watering.

2. The Holly
There are between 400 and 600 species of holly to
choose from. For our purposes, we really like the “Carissa” variety for its
dark and dense glossy green leaves. This is a low-maintenance shrub which will
tolerate drought, extreme heat, and extreme cold. It grows up to three feet
high and spreads up to four. Once established, it will not require any pruning.
Carissa is a great foundation planting because of how lush and green it stays
year-round, offering a wonderful backdrop to any planted perennials and in the
winter tipped with snow.




3. Knock Out Roses
Knock Out Roses started trending in the year
2000 and remain a staple amongst landscapers for foundation plantings. Roses
are notoriously difficult to grow and high maintenance at that. Luckily, these
shrub roses were created so you can have low-maintenance roses from the first
thaw to the first frost. There are over 10 varieties to choose from, so be
thinking about what colors compliment your home and what types of flowers you
would like to see. At maturity, these rose bushes can grow up to four feet high
and four feet deep. With dark foliage, the blooms stand out quite nicely in any
landscape. They will need full sun with fertile, well-drained soil. Fertilize
every so often to keep the blooms cycling throughout the growing season. (Featured Right: Sunny Knock Out Roses).
4. Rhododendrons and Azaleas
There are over 1,024 species of
Rhododendrons and over 20,000 named hybrids of Rhododendrons and Azaleas
worldwide. Visit Gardenia.net to see some of the best choices for your New England landscape. One of our
favorites is the “Gibraltar” variety. This mid-sized deciduous azalea is award-winning
for its stunning display of orange funnel-shaped blooms which light up the
landscape in trusses of 10-12 flowers over dark green foliage. Growing up to
five feet high and five feet wide, these are an exceptional and bold choice for
a foundation planting. Requires full or partial sun and good drainage.
5. Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses will offer a nice
texture to supplement your palette of deciduous and evergreen selections.
Popular for New England is the “Karl Foerster” Feather Reed Grass. We recommend reading our article on winter care to prepare yourself for proper maintenance
of ornamental grasses. The Karl Foerster variety is a cool season grass
which grows rapidly in the spring. It is highly tolerant of partial shade, salt,
and humidity which makes it a low-maintenance addition to your landscape. It
grows up to five feet tall and three feet in spread, boasting feathery plumes
of a shifting bronze color throughout the growing seasons.
6. The Dwarf Spruce
There are many evergreens and especially
spruce varieties to pick from when selecting foundation plantings. We like the
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce for its unusual shape and color. It is flat-topped unlike
many other spruce plants and densely branched, but bright silver-blue in color.
This spruce will grow up to five feet tall and six feet wide. Needs full to
partial sun and an even watering schedule, especially in extreme heat, but is
extremely hardy during the winter months.

Stay tuned! In part three, we will talk about our favorite privacy
plantings.