Plant shape-giving trees

Plant shape-giving trees

The shapes of plants in your yard can affect the look of your home. As noted in the previous Garden Gate article, your choice of weeping, round, pyramidal, columnar or horizontal plants in your yard will make a world of difference in your home’s appearance. Have something to hide, like a bad roof? You can direct the viewer’s eye away from “the offender.”

Hopefully by now you have made several copies of a photo of your home from the front yard and marked it with plant shape options to see the change. Garden Gate magazine suggests that the next step is to decide which plants to use. Of course, ask the most basic questions first: How large is it when full grown? No matter what the shape of plant that you need, you don’t want a 25-foot (when mature) tree planted 12 feet from your home. The mature size of your plant choice becomes an important factor. You probably don’t want plants to cover the windows of your home when they are mature. So as a rule, keep the taller shapes at the corners of your home. Keep taller plants at the roof line or slightly below as a matured specimen.

As you consider the plants to revive or transform your landscape, keep the sun vs. shade needs of the plants in mind. A beautiful red rounded Japanese maple tree may sound lovely, but it would not like you at all if you placed it in a location with hot afternoon sun.

Weeping plants pull the eye down, so you don’t spot all of the wall and roof angles of a home. Some lovely weeping options are the cherry trees with their white flowers. They are heat and cold tolerant to zone 8 and will grow 8-15 feet tall. Flowering crabapple has pink flowers in the spring and loves full sun and grows 8-10 feet tall. In addition, consider the mulberry tree, juniper tree, or redbud.

Plants with horizontal lines can almost point visitors to the front door. Some options are creeping juniper, cutleaf sumac, viburnum, Japanese maple or cotoneaster. Columnar plants placed at the corner of a home can make it look larger. Look for columnar options of arborvitae, flowering crabapple, ginkgo tree, or Japanese holly.

Round plants like abelia, boxwood, dwarf Korean lilac, smooth-leaf hydrangea and viburnum can soften strong lines of your home. Pyramidal shapes like American holly or dwarf Alberta spruce (heat tolerant to zone 8) can balance the look of your home. Whether you choose to make a major overhaul or just dress up your yard, remember the power of the plants you choose to create the look you want.


Joette is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.