Downsizing: The Art of Gardening Near The House

Planting gardens alongside your house is tricky business.  The plants look tiny when you buy them, but, with a little water and sun, they can grow so big they overpower your house.  That’s exactly what happened at our house – a few shrubs grew a little too tall in front of our house, blocking the windows into the basement.



By the middle of the summer, the bush closest to the front door impedes the stairway and the little bench on the deck.  Even after cutting the bushes back in the fall, they really make the walkway feel crowded.  You can see that they have grown very close to the sidewalk:


So, to say it simply: those bushes had to go.


They came up really easily – they had shallow roots.  We were thankful for those shallow roots when we replanted them in the backyard – we didn’t have to dig deep holes in that rocky soil.  (Digging at all gives us patio flashbacks … )  The walkway to our front door immediately felt more spacious and less like you were going to get swallowed whole by a shrub.  The next step was the fun part – picking new plants!

The new plants needed to be shade friendly and not too big.  We wanted the bed to look nice all year, so we planned for a mix of perennials, evergreen groundcovers, and a dwarf ornamental tree for a little height.  We also knew we wanted to incorporate an azalea, since they are all over our property (our signature plant, if you will).  We drove over to Home Depot to look at plants and get ideas.  We came home with some ideas and drew out a plan.  Then, we picked up our new friends!


Here’s what we got:

  • A six-pack of yellow Asiatic Lillies (flowering perennial)
  • 2 Emerald Gaiety Euonymus (ground cover)
  • 1 dwarf Japanese Maple (ornamental tree)
  • an azalea in “girard rose” (shrub)
  • 2 Japanese Hollies (shrub)
  • 2 Bleeding Hearts (flowering perennial)

Plus, we had a rose bush that we planted last summer after we lost an azalea (the big bushes overpowered it).

We couldn’t find anything that would block the big gap under the front stoop.  Krister came up with the (brilliant) idea that we should move a boxwood from a bed next to our creek.  We are planning to rework that creek garden at some point, plus the boxwood was clearly struggling in the shade of a big evergreen.  Actually, two boxwoods were struggling in the shade of a big evergreen:


We snagged the better of the two (believe it or not, it’s the right one in that picture above) and transplanted it.  It fit perfectly:


Then, we planted everyone else!


A close-up of the bleeding hearts (Kristin loves them and was so excited to plant them here):


Check out the walkway to the front door too:




As a reminder, here’s what it looked like before:


And after:


How do you like it?  We’re quite pleased.

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