The Q&A Archives: Landscaping Ideas

Question: We have been living at our new home for just over a year. I finally have my beds prepared to accept some shrubs and flowers. The one bed that I am interested in planting is directly against my house. The house has a walk out basement so the ground is graduated on a slope. I would like some suggestion on what to plant in terms of perennials and shrubs (primarily) and annuals that will give my bed color year round and provide a step effect (shorter plant to the front of the house and larger ones towards the rear). The soil is clay and I have tilled in topsoil.

Answer: First, make sure that the area is properly graded so that water doesn't pool against the side of the house and cause moisture problems in the basement!

Congratulations on your new home! You don't say whether the area is in full sun or shade, so I'll give you some ideas for sun. These are just a few options; if you want something more exotic, have a look at neighbor's houses--and remember that asking neighbors for gardening advice is a great way to get to know them!

Taller shrubs--don't plant too close to house, and don't plant under overhangs or eaves or they won't receive rainfall.
Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica), fragrant snowball viburnum, Burning bush (Euonymus alatus 'Compacta').

Perennials include a selection of daylilies (there are all sorts of sizes and colors), perennial salvia, tall garden phlox, coreopsis. Spring-flowering creeping phlox and prostrate junipers make nice, low-growing ground covers.

Any combination of annuals will add extra color, especially for the first few seasons when the perennials are getting established.

Hope this helps.

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