Foundation plantings around buildings are important to create a transition to their surroundings and anchor them to the landscape.
Shrubs and trees soften the lines of the house, allowing the residence to merge with the natural surroundings.
This transition zone occupies enough space so that the trees and shrubs extend out from the house in a gradual way. Several other trees and shrubs planted nearby in the landscape will provide balance and scale and make the house appear nestled into the landscape.
If the foundation plantings are the only trees and shrubs used in the landscape, they might appear to swallow up the house while leaving the rest of the yard looking bare and empty.
Another way of looking at trees and shrubs is to consider that trees anchor the skyline. They meet the sky and provide a sense of scale by balancing the mass of a building with its surroundings.
Shrubs, on the other hand, anchor the eye line, because as you get close to the house you see the tops of the shrubs, not the tops of the trees.
On a large rural property, large trees and shrubs planted throughout the property provide a sense of proportion between the buildings and the rest of the farm site. They provide a vertical backdrop that frames the buildings.
The term anchor also applies to flower borders. Any border, whether it is an island bed or is located along a fence or against a backdrop of trees and shrubs, must appear anchored or weighted down and securely nestled into place.
Including plants or objects that have substantial visual weight will achieve this goal. They will appear to hold the border down. In a mixed border, tall perennials such as Joe Pye Weed or good-sized shrubs can accomplish this task.
Only three or four of these plants or objects are needed to give enough visual weight to anchor the bed, depending on the size of the border. Objects such as obelisks, trellises and large rocks will serve as more permanent anchors along with lilac, ninebark and globe cedar.
A small tree, such as a Japanese lilac or crab apple, also will anchor a bed. Add a large rock and these two items would have enough visual weight to anchor a large mixed border.
Anchoring the major features of your landscape adds proportion and balance, making it that much more attractive.