Front Walkway and Foundation Plant Ideas

I need some front walkway and foundation plant ideas. My 1960's colonial-style house sits on top of a small hill. My driveway cuts through the front yard and curves to the garage on the left side as you look from the street. As you approach the house, the front yard to the left is what we affectionately called the "pit," an area about two feet below the driveway. To the right of the driveway is a hill, quite a challenge to mow. The existing front walkway flanks the side of the house from the garage and is composed flagstone platform steps which lead to four regular steep steps to the front door which is about 3-4 feet about the ground. The whole landscape slopes upward from the garage to the front door. I have Dwarf Boxwood & Andromeda flanking the right side of the platform steps but then, in front of the big raised steps at the front door and in front of the bay window of the living room are overgrown (I trim them every year) leggy Inkberries.


Everything looks so out of scale. I used the Inkberries to cover the 3-4 feet of foundation that shows on the living room side of the house but nothing seems right. I have 1/2 day of good sun in the summer, and a tremendous deer problem. I just don't know how to make the front flow, it seems so disjointed and the local nurseries are so cookie-cutter. So, in short, how do you cover foundation with such a sloping walkway that flanks the front of the house and not make it look lopsided?

ANSWER

Are you saying that your walkway is set against your house without any space between the walk and the house? If so, that is quite unusual, but perhaps this is not the way it is.

Just because your land slopes, this does not mean that you can't have a nice design. The most important element is that mulch in your beds do not erode away. I am just bringing this up as a possible problem that can be rectified by placing some small, or even large, boulders along the bed edge.

A nice way to do a design along a walkway is to have a bed that is an arc along the walkway beginning. Here, you might place a large shrub, such as a Lilac, or even a small tree, along with additional shrubs and/or perennials. You did not mention where you live so I cannot recommend specific plants for your plant zone.

Create another curve along the front of your steps. Bring this curve in a bit so it arcs inward toward your house. Then arc it outwards along the right house corner. See the last photo on this page. Patio Designs. It is a walkway photo showing the curve I am referring to as it begins.

I know that Inkberry tends to get leggy, and I mostly stopped using them many years ago. Again, depending on your plant zone, you might consider either 'China Girl' Holly or PJM Rhododendron as your foundation plantings to replace the Inkberry. They will just about the right size and are evergreen.

As far as the deer go, my personal experience has been that they will nibble at the Holly leaves and then decide they do not like them, but every area is different. PJM for some reason are usually ok. Plant deer resistant perennials in front of the shrubs to create a nice layer and seasonal color. Take a look at my book on Designing With Evergreen Shrubs for some additional ideas.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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