Flower beds against the home, sometimes referred to as foundation plantings, can offer numerous benefits including boosted curb appeal and emphasizing design elements of your home. It's not simply planting shrubs against your house; precise planning is involved to prevent a variety of problems that may come with foundation plantings.
Deciding the Basics
Before planning your bed, decide on a few basics for your foundation planting. The basics may include what shrubs you like, whether your foundation planting is to hide your foundation, what architectural details you want to showcase, and if you want formal or casual plantings throughout the bed. For example, highlighting the entrance to your home with attention-grabbing plants is a common design element used to create a focal point. Some foundation plantings are rectangular beds that follow the angles of your home; others are rounded or wavy and may wrap the corners of your house. Start by making a scale sketch of your home and a few sketches of different shapes and sizes of beds. The sketches don't have to be perfect, but they can give you a better idea of what you're result will be.
Knowledge is Power
Before preparing and building your flower bed, it's important to know what type of soil, moisture and sunlight you're dealing with. If you're unaware of the amount of sun your bed gets, watch it for a full day and mark how many hours of direct sunlight it gets throughout the day and when. For example, record how much direct sun it gets in the morning and afternoon as this can affect which plants you put in. You should also know which type of soil you have, as this also effects your decision on plants. Clay soils tend to hold water, sandy soils tend to be dry and drain quickly. Loamy soil is ideal for most plants.
Prepare the Bed
The first step in preparing the bed is marking it out. A garden hose, long rope or other flexible material works well for this because you can move them into different shapes. Dig out the edge with a spade, following the hose or rope you've laid out. Add 6 to 8 inches of organic material on top of the soil in the bed and till it approximately 6 to 8 inches into the soil. Tilling the organic material into the soil helps create a rich planting medium most plants thrive in. Your bed should be 4 to 6 inches taller than the surrounding lawn after working the soil; raised beds are better for most plants, although not always necessary. Add your plants, planting each one according to the planting directions; typically, planting instructions are to dig a hole as deep as the plant's pot and about two-times wider than the root ball. Always follow the recommended planting space. Set your plants in position while still in the pots before digging; this allows you to move plants around before planting them to achieve your desired look. Finish the bed with a nice border; retaining wall stones, brick or landscape timbers work well for this type of bed.
Keep the raised bed at least 6 inches away from your home's foundation to help prevent pests. Keep organic mulch at least 6 inches away from your home's foundation, as well, as the moist, natural environment is ideal for numerous pest species including ants and termites. Use an inorganic mulch, such as landscape rock, near the foundation if needed. Shrubs and plants can also attract pests to your home; don't allow mature plants to touch your siding or foundation. Another consideration is moisture; choose plants that don't require excessive amounts of water as watering them could lead to moisture problems around your foundation.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Foundation Plantings
- Cornell University: Home Gardening: Flower Garden Design Basics
- Kentucky Cooperative Extension: Planning a New Flower Garden
- Kansas State University: Mulches and Living Organisms
- Texas A&M University System: Galveston County Master Gardeners: How Do I Construct the "Perfect" Bed for Flowers?
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Gardening in a Minute: Creating a Flower Bed
- University of Minnesota Extension: SULIS: Designing and Preparing a Perennial Bed
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.