The Q&A Archives: Foundation Planting

Question: I have just cleared around my foundation of all old overgrown trees. I now want ro plant some low growing shrubs and or small trees. House is 50X 26 and front and one side need new plantings.

Answer: I would plant a variety of dwarf evergreen shrubs (in the following cases, dwarf means under 5' tall):

Abies balsamea 'Hudsonia' (1' H x 2' W) This tiny, slow growing balsam fir is perfect for small gardens and landscapes. And as anyone who's had a balsam Christmas tree can attest, balsams are among the most pleasantly aromatic evergreens. (Zones 3 - 7)

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Minnima Aurea' (2' H x 1' W) This is a beautiful bright yellow False Cypress with a pyramidal shape that lends some height to the garden. Easy growing, but like most Chamaecyparis, it doesn't like exposure to strong winds. (Zones 4 - 8)

Juniperus communis 'Compressa' (3' H x 1.5' W) There are so many wonderful compact and creeping Junipers. 'Compressa' is a dense, columnar dwarf tree that brings formality to a garden design. (Zones 2 - 6)

Juniperus squamata 'Meyeri'v (3'H x 2' W) The drooping almost shaggy nature of 'Meyeri' is an eye catcher. It has a nice cool, blue color, but can develop brown patches on older growth, that will need to be kept trimmed. (Zones 5 - 8)

Picea glauca albertiana 'Conica' (4' H x 2' W) The dwarf Alberta Spruce is deservedly one of the most popular dwarf evergreens. It keeps its perfect conical shape without effort and the new spring growth is a bright lime green. (Zones 4 - 7)

Pinus mugo 'Gnom' (2' H x 4' W) Mugo or Mountain Pines are finally getting their due, with several excellent varieties on the market. They form low, mounding, almost bonsai-like structures in the garden. Will grow in almost any type of soil. (Zones 3 - 7)
Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Fletcheri' (3' H x 5' W) Furrowed bark, long, blue-green needles and a flat top make this dwarf Douglas Fir an excellent focal point. 'Fletcheri' likes to spread out, but it won't get anywhere near as tall as it's non-dwarf cousins. (Zones 4 - 7)

Thuja occidentalis 'Hertz Midget' (1' H x 1' W) 'Hertz Midget' is one of the smallest evergreens you will find. It grows as a tight, round ball, with the feathery Arborvitae needles. A good choice for a small garden and it easily tolerates some shade. (Zones 2 - 8)

Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold' (3' H x 3' W) 'Rheingold' looks like someone brushed its branches straight up, giving the round shrub a more conical appearance. Its rich, gold color mellows to copper in the fall. (Zones 3 - 8)

Tsuga canadensis 'Pendula' (3' H x 8' W) Canadensis means it's hardy and 'Pendula' means it's a weeper. It's also a stunner if given the room to spread out, especially if it can drape over a wall. (Zones 3 - 7)

Hope these suggestions are helpful.

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