How to Landscape Around A Foundation? [10 Steps]

Because the foundation begins the home's connection to the property, good landscaping techniques properly frame the home or disconnect the home from its surroundings. Home foundations also provide special drainage considerations. We consulted higher education agricultural data, landscape and foundation expert guides, and home improvement recommendations to determine best practices for landscaping around a foundation.

To properly landscape around a foundation:

  • Create a sketch.
  • Construct harmony and cohesion.
  • Cover with year-round design elements.
  • Complement with color and shape.
  • Consider the mature plant size.
  • Correct drainage issues.
  • Cultivate the soil.
  • Call attention to the entrance.
  • Craft highlighted corners.
  • Connect entrance to corners.

In addition to the curb appeal provided by a landscaping update, this improvement effort may also increase home value. Read on for design and moisture considerations.

landscape around foundation of new construction cottage style house with hardy board and a partial metal roof, How to Landscape Around A Foundation? [10 Steps]

Create a Sketch

To better plan your landscaping, create a sketch using a photograph of your house or try one of the home design software platforms that includes landscaping. Determine layout by inserting full-grown versions of the plants to see how they look with the home. Include any existing plants or trees you would like to preserve.

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Construct Harmony and Cohesion

Balance plants with home architecture, colors, formality, and size. Home architecture (Colonial, Mediterranean, Victorian, or others) provides a landscape style direction. Further enhance the overall expression by including homeowner and neighborhood personality hints.

Home formality will provide clues to the landscaping layout direction. Formal balance refers to mirror-image symmetry. More formal styles call for clean geometric lines. Informal balance refers to asymmetry in size, color, abundance, or other landscape features. Informal styles dictate relaxed, casual landscaping; more formal styles call for clean geometric lines with more balanced symmetry.

Clemson University Foundation Plantings Guide emphasizes that landscape elements should complement the home appearance and are no longer utilized to hide home foundations and block cold airflow under the home.  To provide visibility for smaller landscape items, start at the house's side with taller landscape items and decrease plant size as you move away from the house. Rather than filling every available space, use only what is needed to provide a pleasing and cohesive variety of texture and color.

Cover with Year-Round Design Elements

Landscape design elements should provide color and coverage throughout the seasons. Evergreens provide a good base to ensure year-round greenery and ground canopy. Perennials deliver seasonal colors with additional surface coverage. Flowering and deciduous (falling leaf) plants supply textural display. Utilize varieties of each to stagger both the height and color complexion of the overall composition throughout the year.

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Complement with Color and Shape

Landscaping should complement the home and outdoor elements of the home. Consider adding elements that unify landscaping and home color aspects.

Color Theory

Color theory should guide landscape color design. Consider the house, outdoor furniture, and other outdoor feature colors when looking at the color scheme. Use a color wheel to assist with landscape color planning. A color wheel includes:

  • 3 primary colors: red, blue, yellow
  • 3 secondary colors (mix of 2 primary colors): orange, green, violet
  • 6 tertiary colors (mix of 1 each adjacent primary and secondary colors): red-violet, red-orange, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-orange, and yellow-green.

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Color Schemes

The basic color schemes include monochromatic (one color), analogous (adjacent on the color wheel), and complementary (opposite on color wheel).

According to the University of Florida Basic Principles of Landscape Design, monochromatic landscaping refers to one color, or multiple shades of the same color, in addition to any green base foliage. For example, unify the house and landscape by coordinating various yellow shades such as a bench, foliage, and flower colors.

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Analogous (harmonious) landscape themes incorporate three to five colors. For example, pair a burning bush with multi-color marigolds.

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Complementary color schemes are often found naturally in flowers. Such as seen among yellow daisies and lavender.

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Color Temperature

Color temperature is an additional landscape relational aspect. Because color temperature is associated with emotion, it can be a guide for planning outdoor spaces. Cool colors include blue-green through blue-violet and are thought to be calming and good for spaces intended to be relaxing with a smaller feel. Warm colors include red through yellow (also brown and tan) and are considered to excite and invoke a feeling that a given space is larger.

Consider Mature Plant Size

Choose healthy native plants and consider the mature size rather than the purchased size. Arrange plants to allow for full-grown plant width. Consider size concerning spacing from the foundation, spacing from one another, and overall landscape balance. Keep a walkway space between landscape elements and the home to allow easier cleaning and repair.

Avoid plants that will crowd your landscaping or your home. Consider pruning requirements with spacing and plant growth. Native plants will better survive, and local nurseries can assist with mature plant size estimates. Consider using no more than 75% of corner wall height as the highest mature plant measurement. Shorter plants are fine. Use the corner line rather than 75% of the entryway height.

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Correct Drainage Issues

Drainage is an important aspect of landscaping as it relates to the home’s foundation. The moisture derived from close plant to foundation proximity may also attract pests, including termites.

How Can You Improve Drainage Around The Foundation?

Ensure the ground has sufficient slope to direct water away from the house. Foundation experts suggest 6-inches in 10-feet (or 5%) slope. Keep the mulch at least 1-foot away from the house and keep drains and outlets clear.

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Should You Put Gravel Around The Foundation?

While gravel around the foundation may assist with weed prevention, gravel must not be utilized if the ground does not slope away from the foundation. Gravel allows water to drain; however, it does not absorb water and channel it toward the slope direction.

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How Much Of The Foundation Can Be Exposed?

Do not completely cover your foundation with landscape features. Try to keep at least 3-inches of foundation exposed when updating home landscaping. This will allow you to see moisture issues that may need attention.

What Plants Can Be Placed Near The House's Foundation?

Provide sufficient space between the foundation and landscaping to provide for the mature height and fullness of plants and trees. If planted too close to the home foundation, landscape elements may damage your roof, foundation, exterior, and plumbing. Plants need space for light and air access.

Consider half the plant mature width as a guide for placement. In general, you will want to start at least 2-feet away from the foundation for small shrubs. Medium shrubs should begin 3-feet from the foundation. Large shrubs should have a minimum distance of 4 -feet from the house. Very large shrubs and trees (over 6-feet) should be no closer than 5-feet from the house. Keep a walkway space between landscape elements and the home to allow easier cleaning and repair.

Cultivate the Soil

Soil cultivation is an important aspect of landscaping. Plants need proper nutrients and sufficient water. These amounts vary by plant. Check your plant documentation or consult your local nursery if you need assistance.

Test soil several weeks before planting to allow time for proper soil preparation. Utilize fertilizer and lime to prepare the soil as indicated by the results.

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While drainage is important for the home’s foundation, it is also an important aspect of landscaping. Tilling the soil will help provide proper drainage.

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Call Attention to the Entrance

Home colors and materials are especially important when considering entrance plant accents. Use complementary home colors to extend the design features. Try using contrast to accent specific aspects. Provide a year-round welcoming display that captivates guests' attention.

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The entrance element height should be in line with house size. For security, home occupants need an unobstructed view when entering or exiting the home and when looking out to see when someone is awaiting entry.

Craft Highlighted Corners

While foundation landscaping is not restricted to large plant or tree bookends, taller plants at the home corners may frame and integrate the overall appearance. Extend the landscaping a bit beyond the house's edges and remember to include some corner fullness rather than a lone tall plant or tree. These corner highlights may also provide the illusion of a larger home.

Connect Entrance to Corners

Transitions between entrances and corners should be uncluttered and low enough not to minimize the house's scale. Consider dwarf plant varieties for connecting the home entrance to the corners. For very small homes, mulch with or without ground cover plants may provide the perfect connecting element.

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Clear Windows

Use landscaping to frame, rather than cover, window areas. Plants and trees should allow an unobstructed view from the home. Covered windows present a security issue by providing a place for potential intruders to hide.


Home foundation landscaping requires a structural and design plan. Good landscaping design includes color, shape, and size considerations. Good landscaping structure provides for correct drainage and soil cultivation. A well-designed foundation landscaping project improves home beauty and stability.

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