Front Foundation Plants for Shade

17 Mar

It is a general rule to install 75% evergreen plant material in front foundation landscapes. The side of your home facing the public road is viewed more often than any other. Year round curb appeal is highly desired and ultimately adds value to your home. The decision to sell your home may come abruptly, so you want your front foundation curb appeal to be ready for potential buyers 365 days a year.

Because Greensboro is in zone 7, we have a wonderful plant palette to choose from. Older neighborhoods may have established trees shading most of the property, including front landscapes. Do not think you are limited with plant variety because sunlight is scarce.

A new favorite of mine is the “Encore” azalea shrub because it provides blooms twice a year, spring and fall. They are more compact than older varieties, come in an array of rich colors, and evergreen. They are more on the pricey side, but well worth it for 2 seasons of blooms. Incorporate a few “Encore” Azaleas and add other plants that  bloom at different times.


Another wonderful plant for shade is the “Kleim’s Hardy” Gardenia. The fragrance of its blooms are intoxicating and pleasant, sporadically flowering in May and June. The foliage alone is spectacular, glossy and deep green with a medium texture. This variety of gardenia will perform well in a protected foundation bed planted close to a walkway for its scent to be fully enjoyed.


An evergreen shrub with beautiful natural form is, “Otto Luyken” Laurel. The foliage is narrow and elliptic in shape and grows 4 feet in height and 6 feet in spread. A perfect selection for beneath a window. Very showy white flowers cover this shrub in the spring. This wonderful shrub does not need pruning or shearing and should be left in its natural form. In the photograph below, “Otto Luyken” Laurels are planted next to the house with Lenten Rose in front.


I cannot leave out Lenten Rose, or the botanical name Helleborus. This amazing little plant starts blooming in January and ends in March when little is happening within the landscape. The ornamental blooms come in colors of white, mauve, or purple and fade to green. No pruning is necessary and seeds will scatter, providing more Helleborus plants over time. This plant is not invasive and I would love to dig up your unwanted plants. The Lenten Rose grows to 18 inches in height and spreads 2 feet. The evergreen foliage is extremely coarse, contrasting nicely with finer textured plants like ferns.


Shade gardens of front foundation plantings can be just as beautiful as those in the sun. These are a few plants to get you started on increasing your curb appeal to create a wonderful first impression.

Happy Planting!

Diana Gardner-Williams

Landscape Design and Installation


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