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Be strategic and selective when adding plants for curb appeal


Foundation plantings or beds can enhance a home’s assets, draw attention to its features and highlight its architectural qualities.

Think about your home’s architecture. Is it traditional, contemporary, Victorian, rustic or farmhouse? Consider the landscape, surrounding homes and properties as well as your realistic ability to care for plantings before heading out to the garden center or calling your landscape designer.

It’s easy to default to tried and true staples but that may do less to set your home apart. Avoid tall plantings and shrubs that block your home’s view, and stick with plants that will complement your entryways or the perimeter of your home’s footprint, said a post on

According to Dear Avant updating your landscape from “average” to “excellent” can boost the home’s value from 10% to 12%.

Size, scale and proportion

Keep in mind the ultimate size of the plants, shrubs or trees you’re considering — at their mature size — not at the size in which they’ll be planted so you can avoid any surprises, This Old said.

Select from evergreens, perennials and shrubs that not only will fill in and be beautiful but will also be able to thrive in your soil, at natural moisture levels and with your sun exposure.

Margaret Pickoff, a commercial horticulture educator in the Bucks County office of Penn State Extension in Wrightstown suggests using a basic plan to get started or renovate older foundation plantings.

“Break up that (curbside) area into smaller chunks and focus on some sort of welcoming planting at the entrance and something toward the corners,” Pickoff said.

She recommends picking shrubs based on their mature size. For those with a heart’s desire for a particular planting understand some skill or willingness to prune or hire help with selections that may become unruly or get too big is essential for a balanced look. Once the corners are set, transitional planting can fill in between them.

Keep in mind root tree systems when planting near sidewalks, driveways and your home’s foundation.

Anchor plant fillers

Foundation plant fillers can be a way to create color and texture. Consider Lady’s mantle, ferns, wild ginger with its endearing heart-shaped foliage and carex (Pensylvanica), a native sedge-like plant.

“Carex is sturdy and textured and works in a traditional ground cover situation,” Pickoff said.

She noted many sedge plant varieties “are very big in the native plant world right now.” Sedge is adaptable to many different growing conditions and environments making it a versatile addition to the landscape.

Plant types

Pickoff suggests flowering trees like Japanese maples, eastern redbuds or flowering dogwoods as popular options for entryway focal point trees.

If the property is large enough, she said the river birch tree is a beautiful specimen with brown/gray peeling bark. Its smaller leaves provide dappled shade, and it won’t block windows or entrances.

River birch trees need lots of space and plenty of water, so they won’t thrive in dry soil conditions, Pickoff said.

When thinking about texture and interest across all four seasons consider winterberry, witch hazel or spice bush “with leaves that change color.”

Among the “knockout” plants listed on to consider when listing your home for sale and to amp up its curb appeal are boxwood, roses, hosta, annuals — for a pop of color, though these will only grow for a single season — hydrangea and the use of potted containers and planters.

Perennial hosta plants offer more colors and varieties and leaf shapes than ever before. Sadly, deer love tender hosta plant foliage, too. Keep deer management in mind when planting hosta — especially as foundation plantings — in the landscape.

Location, location

Foundation planting can become complicated because there are so many elements to take into account. Pickoff likes to break the space into “chunks” or sections — such as corners, entryway focal point and fill in or transition spaces. Keep the same principles in mind when working with smaller trees or shrubs flowering perennials or ground cover.

“The corner planting the role is to help the house blend into the landscape,” she said.

“One of the reasons foundation plantings are difficult is because people have an expectation about the size things will become. In other parts of the garden (that mature size) is probably not as much of an issue,” Pickoff explained.

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