A house must be comfortable and attractive both inside and out to be a real home. It may be modest and simple, but it must be neat and in good repair. In addition it must give the feeling of belonging to its surroundings. Nothing contributes so much to this appearance as appropriate plantings about the foundations.
A house rising directly from the bare ground or even from a good lawn with all the foundation showing is usually unattractive and uninviting. If on the other hand an old lilac bush has run wild at one corner of the house and if but an elder bush and blackberry tangle have clothed another corner, the severe straight lines are softened and the house has a look of belonging in its surroundings and begins to look as though it was at home there. The transformation from a bare and uninviting building to a homelike picture is easily accomplished by appropriate plantings about the foundations.
1 Mimeographed circular issued by the Office of Horticulture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The most important locations for plant groups are the most prominent points. These are often the front corners of the house or of the porch, or a large bare wall unbroken by windows. At these points the largest or most conspicuous plants should be used. Of lesser prominence may be the entrance steps or angles in the house, where smaller plants are usually appropriate. Under the windows of a long wall only those plants should be used that will grow as high as the window sills, while in liberal spaces between windows those may be used that will grow to the top of the window or above. Plants used along a porch where it is desirable to maintain an open view should not exceed a height of 30 inches above the floor, so that those sitting on the porch may see over them. Higher shrubs may be used for screening or for making an appropriate setting for a conspicuous porch corner.
Plants of different heights should be used so the top outline will vary and thus be more interesting; also the width of the plantings should vary for the same reason. This frequently makes possible the planting of large plants next the building with smaller ones on the outer edge of the groups. This need for variety of outline makes inappropriate the planting of a row of plants of one kind along a porch or a house wall. It is also inadvisable to plant continuously along a foundation even with plants of different habits, as the most pleasing appearance is obtained by exposing a portion of the foundation so that the house may be seen to be resting on something substantial instead of appearing uncertainly suspended among waving foliage.
Variety may also be obtained by using plants of different forms of growth, some upright, some spreading, some drooping, also with plants having different form and color of leaves, as large or small, entire or lobed, dark green, pea green or grayish, glossy or dull. Shrubs are also available with different types of branching, different colors of stems, different habits as to holding leaves, some remaining on for two or three years, others dropping each fall, and with crops of bright-colored fruits following the flowers.
Many combinations of these plants may be used, any of which would make a pleasing appearance. They must be carefully selected, however, to obtain those of appropriate size for the locations as well as to provide variety.