Replacing Old Foundation Plantings

Foundation plants are landscape plantings that are placed very near and around the foundation of a home or building. Using foundation plants can soften the square lines of a building, improve curb appeal, increase home safety, and enhance a truly welcoming feeling for the front of a house.

Why Foundation Plantings Need to Be Replaced

Homeowners often buy a newly built home and place foundation plants quite close to the home. When a plant is a baby, it is so small that homeowners cannot imagine its mature size and the problems an overgrown plant will cause. For instance, when a shrub grows to a larger size, homeowners are forced to shave or prune harshly in order to have the plant fit into a particular space. This causes the dreaded crime against horticulture known as “shrub balls”. Shaping shrubs into balls means that the plant is topped off and cut harshly, preventing full bloom and causing stunted growth. After doing this for many years, the plants can die off and suffer from disease.

At this point it is necessary to reevaluate those shrubs. Are they so damaged they need to be removed and replaced? Have they grown unattractive and outlived their usefulness? If so, it is time to plan a new planting approach.

Preparing for Excavation

Before excavating around the foundation, it is important to call your local city and find out where underground pipes, cables, and wires are located. Will you be required to get a permit for digging around the foundation and replacing the plantings or adding new hardscaping? Make sure you call in advance so that you do not inadvertently damage equipment or piles that are located underground.

Foundation Planting Design

Once the local permitting and access concerns are met, it is time to create a foundation planting landscape design with the iScape app. Using the iScape app is a fantastic way of testing out various plants to see which ones will look the best. It will also help you better understand what the plants will look like when full grown. Therefore, you will know better how far away from the building you will need to plant, preventing future “shrub ball” issues.

After uploading your foundation planting image, first “remove the plants” from the image, then replace the plants with creative foundational perennials, shrubs, and trees found in the app. You can see how this is done in the before and after photos on this page. If you want to see the end plan without investing precious time and money in advance, the iScape app is a perfect tool.

Prepping the Soil for New Foundation Plantings

After you call and get approval for the excavation and create a general planting design, you will have to dig out the old foundation plantings. After that, it is important to have the soil tested. Soil testing will enable you to find out if the old plantings depleted the soil of nutrients and what issues you might have with the soil in general.

Enrich the soil for the new plants by spreading 3 to 4 inches of compost on top of the soil, working the soil into the native soil as you go. If you have grading issues, this is now the time to correct the problem so that the ground is level and safe around the foundation. Water should drain away from the foundation of a building.

Choose Plants That Do Not Have Invasive Roots

Trees, vines, and shrubs sometimes are known to cause plumbing and foundation damage because they are invasive. It is important to choose plants which can be planted at the precise distance from the foundation which will be attractive but will not be invasive.

Invasive Plant List to Avoid Planting Near a Building Foundation:

  • Birch tree
  • Boston ivy
  • Boxwood shrub
  • Bradford pear tree
  • Eucalyptus tree
  • Ginkgo tree
  • Golden rain tree
  • London plane tree
  • Magnolia tree
  • Mimosa tree
  • Mulberry tree
  • Oak trees
  • Poplar trees
  • Silver maple tree
  • Sweetgum tree
  • Willow tree
  • Wisteria vine

Installing the Plants

Once the soil is adjusted and the proper plants are chosen, it is now time to install plants. It is very important that you place plants so that at maturity they will be 12-inches away from the foundation of the building. Confirm the full size of the plant and triple measure to make sure you have it right. Dig holes twice as wide as the root ball, add appropriate fertilizer, and water well once planted.

Proper installation of the plants guarantees the homeowner a beautiful long-term landscape in the future. No need to create shrub balls or shave plants down to a tiny size because they have overgrown their position. Simply plant and enjoy!

Download iScape now and create smart designs that can truly impact your home’s value and reduce your long term management concerns. iScape it!