With the trend toward smaller lots, many homeowners have to carve out gardening space wherever they can find it. One place that stands out: The forgotten area between driveway and house.
Planting near buildings can be tricky because often they absorb sunlight and hold heat, creating a microclimate. The positive, however, is that it may allow you to grow plants that are otherwise too tender for your climate.
Good to Know: Before planting, amend the soil with plenty of peat moss and compost to hold moisture. Then use water-wise plants that still thrive if you occasionally forget to water.
- Burgundy celosia, annual
- Orange zinnia (Zinnia haageana), annual
- Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata), Zones 3–8
- Stringy stonecrop (Sedum sarmentosum), Zones 4–9
- Marigold (Tagetes spp.), annual
Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), Zones 8–11 or annual
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus moschuetos), Zones 5–10
- Pink zinnia (Zinnia elegans), annual
- Yellow zinnia (Zinnia haageana), annual
- Giant grass (Miscanthus x giganteus), Zones 5–9
- Rose (Rosa Flower Carpet Scarlet), Zones 5–9
- Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), Zones 4–8
- Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), annual
- Field poppy (Papaver rhoeas), annual
- Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum), Zones 5–8
- Bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus), annual
- Purple sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), annual
This garden bed includes two perennial groundcovers: creeping phlox and stringy stonecrop. Creeping phlox is covered in bright purple, pink, or white blooms in spring before the emerald green foliage carries it the rest of the season. It looks particularly good trailing down from the decorative block of the raised bed.
Stringy stonecrop, a tough-as-nails sedum, fills the no man’s land between driveway and raised bed. A vigorous grower, it’s a lush lime-green carpet throughout the summer, surviving only on rainfall. Another option: ‘Angelina’ sedum.
Red shrub roses are a must-have, peaking in early summer but flowering till frost. These Flower Carpet roses reach only 2 feet tall, so they won’t outgrow their space. Even better, they retain their disease-free glossy green foliage all season without spraying.
In addition to the roses, we planted a dwarf panicle hydrangea in an aged terra-cotta pot. The added height helps it stand out among companions. Yet the pot itself takes up less space than a shrub planted in the ground, allowing room for more flowers.
Good to Know: Where winters are cold, store the potted hydrangea in a cold basement or attached garage, keeping the soil just barely moist. Or simply plant it in the ground in fall.
Taking up space comes naturally for giant grass, which can grow 8–10 feet tall. Fortunately, this side yard has a prime spot for the lanky perennial, and it’s a focal point nearly all year. Simply chop it to the ground in late winter to make room for new growth.
We next added annuals, sowing the seeds of tall zinnias in various colors, including the pink seen here. They start easily in bare soil and bloom about two months after sprouting. Smaller bedding zinnias, available at Lowe’s in multipacks, occupy a nearby container. Much like with the hydrangea, the pot raises up the flowers so they’re more noticeable. Alternating plant heights helps the garden feel more dynamic.
Taller annuals command attention from a distance, and celosia is no exception. The uniquely shaped blooms stand out among companion plants. And the burgundy foliage dovetails nicely with nearby red hibiscus and pink zinnia blooms. They’re raised easily from seed.
Although this bed peaks in midsummer, it’s easy to stretch the display into cooler seasons with other seed-grown annuals such as poppies, calendula, and bachelor’s buttons. Add bulbs and annual dianthus for spring interest or mums and pansies for a fall display.
Good to Know: Bachelor’s buttons tend to peter out in the heat of summer but will keep blooming if deadheaded regularly. They also make great cut flowers — and the additional snipping will bring more blooms, too.
Mexican sunflower is another tall annual that is simple to grow from seed. It gets taller as the season marches on, eventually reaching 5 feet in height. Butterflies adore the orange blooms, which are more plentiful if plants are deadheaded. Let some spent flowers go to seed to feed the birds in fall!
Purple fountain grass makes a dramatic statement against the potted yellow zinnias. A perennial in warm climates, it’s grown as an annual elsewhere. Dark purple foliage and crimson-and-tan seedheads hold sway from midsummer to fall. The foliage later turns buff for winter interest.