Question: What can I plant around the foundation of my house that will not damage my foundation? New house, so backyard is just dirt right now. Can I lay sod all the way to the foundation, or do I need space?
Answer: To protect your foundation, and to give shrubs an opportunity to grow to maturity, keep your new plants at least 3' away from the side of your house. This will allow good air circulation around all your plants (which will help them avoid heat stress from reflected sunshine and avoid diseases). This spacing will also allow you to conveniently reach the side of your house for painting and other maintenance. Foundation shrubs should generally grow no higher than the bottom edge of your windows. I'd choose spreading, flowering shrubs such as Daphne odora, star jasmine, escallonia or ceanothus. If you'd rather not have flowers, you can plant Nandina (heavenly bamboo), juniper, photinia or viburnums near the foundation of your home. You can certainly sod all the way to the foundation, but mowing might be a problem, especially if there's no room to turn around. But, you can always use a string trimmer near the house where the lawn mower won't reach. Good luck with your new landscape!
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