What are the best plants to use as foundation planting, especially on the north side of the house?

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A. Evergreen shrubs have traditionally been used to cover the often unsightly foundations of our homes. Now we see a mixture of shrubs, small scale trees and perennials to visually anchor the home into the landscape. Start by evaluating the sunlight and winter winds on that side of your home. Try to extend your planting bed away from the house if an overhang will prevent light and rainfall from reaching the plants below. Two small-scale trees to consider are the pagoda dogwood and the serviceberry. Both provide four-season interest. Chokeberries (Aronia), black jetbead (Rhodotypos) and hydrangeas are shade-tolerant shrubs with several seasons of interest. Hemlocks are the most shade-tolerant evergreens but need protection from winter wind. If this is not a problem, consider adding one or two dwarf hemlocks for year-round greenery. Emerald spreader or other yews will tolerate partial but not dense shade. Add a few shade tolerant perennials to the mix such as hosta, astilbe, brunnera, ... more
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