What To Plant Next To Your Front Steps


Questions Answered:

How Long To Expect A Landscape To Last

Sun – How Much

Planted In The Ground

Best For All Day Sun

Best For Morning Sun

Best For Afternoon Sun

Best For Shade

Planted In Containers

Best For All Day Sun

Best For Morning Sun

Best For Afternoon Sun

Best For Shade

Best With Color Of Your Door & House

Read Below for more on each…..

Planting by your front door takes some very special considerations, even more than the rest of your landscape. This is the primary Curb Appeal focus spot. Below are what you need to think about prior to deciding what to plant. Better to know now, rather than have to rip it up later to redo!

Planting next to the front steps of your house is a specialized area with its own considerations.  The plants need to:

  • Be tolerant of harsh conditions
  • Proper mature size for your entry
  • Soft and not thorny
  • Unlikely to be allergenic to people or pets
  • Non-invasive as to not take over the whole landscape
  • Great first impression all year round
  • Colors that compliment your house/door color
  • Fit the design style of your house

How Long Will A Landscape Planting Last?

Do not expect your entry plants to do the job of welcoming visitors for 50 years.  Expect that after 10-20 years, whatever you decide to plant, will need to be replaced, just like your roof would.

Sun – How Much?

This is very important.  Take a day, and check where the sun falls on your front steps planting area every 2 hours.  Check throughout the day.  Sunrise to sunset.  Take a picture from the same spot and see how the progression of the sun happens.  Do this in the summer when neighbor trees are in full leaf. 

Bonus points if you know where that sun pattern will change in the winter.  Is the area in full shade from your house all winter because of the angle of the sun and your house?  Evergreens will not thrive, or look their best, there.  Even’ shade-loving evergreens’.  

Shade-loving plants still need sunlight, it simply clues you into how strong, long of a duration, and/or time of day the sunlight can be.  Click here for more on telling how much sun or shade you have.

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click to learn part sun part shade
Morning light is the preference for most plants that are not adapted to intense sunlight all day. Even plants labeled as……. Read More

Planted In The Ground

Planting in the ground near your front steps takes the most consideration.  Think of this as choosing your carpet, a longer-term commitment, rather than choosing throw pillows, which is like planting in containers.

If planting in the ground, these plants are a backdrop or foundational piece of your entrance.  Consider evergreen, or other winter interest, and the ultimate size of these plants.  

We have all seen entryways and steps overgrown with plants that looked great when planted, but 5 years later are a jungle, best ripped out and re-done. 

These overgrown plants give poor curb appeal to your house.  The only things that are invited in are moisture, rot, insects, and critters.

Drive around an older neighborhood and look at the foundation plants that are near the entrance and front steps.  Which ones look overgrown or pruned heavily?  Learn from those and do not use those plants no matter how much Pinterest or some online blog recommends them.  

Some plants that make marvelous foundation and entryway plants in one area of the country do not in another.

These recommendations work for much of the United States, but please drive through your neighborhoods and look at other plantings.  As always, talk to a local independently owned Garden Center professional, and/or a local extension agent to see if these are what will work well for YOU and YOUR unique growing conditions and climate.

Best For All Day Sun

  • Carrissa Holly, Ilex cornuta ‘Carissa’
  • XPyracomeles Juke Box
  • Boxwood leaf holly, Ilex crenata
  • Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Ilex Bordeaux
  • Dwarf loropetalum, Loropetalum chinense
  • Dwarf Distylium
  • Dwarf Highbush Blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, varieties such as ‘Patriot’
  • Dwarf Abelia, Abelia x gran., varieties such as ‘Funshine’
  • Dwarf rounded evergreens such as :
  • Globe False Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa
  • Globe arborvitae, such as Thuja occidentalis ‘SMNTOBAB’, Tater Tot
  • Best for Morning Sun
  • Aucuba
  • Boxwood, Buxus
  • Dwarf Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Nana’, or Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’
  • Japanese spreading yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata’

Best for Afternoon Sun, 6+ Hours

  • Same as the all day sun
  • Carrissa Holly, Ilex cornuta ‘Carissa’
  • XPyracomeles Juke Box
  • Boxwood leaf holly, Ilex crenta
  • Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Ilex Bordeaux
  • Dwarf loropetalum, Loropetalum chinense
  • Dwarf Distylium
  • Dwarf Highbush Blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, varieties such as ‘Patriot’
  • Dwarf Abelia, Abelia x gran., varieties such as ‘Funshine’
  • Dwarf rounded evergreens such as :
  • Globe False Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa
  • Globe arborvitae, such as Thuja occidentalis ‘SMNTOBAB’, Tater Tot

Best for Shade (most of the day- dappled shade)

  • Aucuba
  • Dwarf Nandina, Nandina domestica, such as Firepower, or Harbour Dwarf
  • Dwarf Laurel,  Prunus laurocerasus ‘Nana’, or Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’
  • Spreading japanese Yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata’
  • Boxwood
  • Soft Touch Mahonia

Containers

With so many aspects to consider, it is with good reason many people opt for plants in containers by their entrance.  These can be customized on a weekend, and if a plant does not work out, it is easily changed out for another. 

 Did the color clash rather than compliment?  Swap out for something else. 

 Did the chosen plant not perform as expected in the conditions?  Change out easily for another.

 Plants looking haggard and tired, change out.  

Want to decorate seasonally?  Easy to do with containerized plants near your front steps.

You can easily take advantage of bloom powerhouse annuals.

Best For All Day Sun, In Containers

  • Ivy Geranium
  • Dipladenia
  • Angelonia
  • Setcretea
  • Sedum & hens and chicks
  • Coldeliane
  • Salvia
  • Hibiscus
  • Bougainvillea
  • Asparagus fern
  • Grasses
  • Lantana
  • Yucca

Best for Morning Sun, In Containers

  • Coleus
  • Caladium
  • Geranium
  • Sweet potato vine, green
  • Torenia
  • Sunpatiens
  • New Guinea Impatiens
  • Sweet Box, Sarcaccoa
  • Heuchera
  • Lobelia

Best For Afternoon Sun, 6+ Hours, In Containers

  • Golden clumping bamboo
  • Fancy Leaf Geranium
  • Petunia
  • Portulaca
  • Salvia
  • Vinca flower
  • Blue My Mind, Evolvulus

Best For All-Day Sun, In Containers

  • Ivy Geranium
  • Dipladenia
  • Angelonia
  • Setcretea
  • Sedum & hens and chicks
  • Coldeliane
  • Salvia
  • Sweet potato vine- dark colors
  • Hibiscus
  • Bougainvillea
  • Sun Tolerant Varieties coleus
  • Asparagus fern
  • Grasses
  • Lantana
  • Yucca
  • Pentas

Best For Dappled Shade, In Containers

  • Rex Begonia
  • Maidenhair fern
  • Autumn Brilliance Fern
  • Caladium
  • Impatiens
  • Creeping Fig
  • Japanese Hakone Golden Grass
  • Hosta
  • Lamium
  • Ivy
  • Coleus

Best For Your Door and House Color

Best for Red Doors

Red can be a tricky color to decorate plants up with.  Greenery works very well, of course, White is classic with red doors, and red flowers of the same intensity work great.  Outside of that, you need to see the exact shade of flower with the exact shade of red to really tell if it is going to work together or not.  Many flower colors look faded next to a bright red door, and many bold colors complete with a bright red door.  If you have a barn red door, more muted or antiqued, then the flower options open up.

Best for Black Doors

All colors go with a basic black, but bold saturated colors show better than pastel colors with a black door.

Best for Blue Doors

Blue is a classic choice for plant containers and as a door color works great with any plant.  Why?  It is the color of the sky and a natural for showcasing all plants and their flowers.

Best for Green Doors

Green is simple IF it is in a natural foliage shade of green.  Everything goes.  However, if the shade of green is more electric or a non-natural plant green, the foliage of your plants will look off, no matter if the flowers look great.

Best for Teal Doors

I expected that teal would be a hard color to put plants with.  I was pleasantly surprised!  It is the color of the ocean, and when tried, complimented all color combinations and different shades of greenery really well.

Best for Yellow Doors

A yellow door can be tricky to plant against.  The intensity of the flower colors needs to match the intensity and saturation of the yellow on the door, otherwise, the flowers will get lost, or overpower the door. 

Best for Purple Doors

Purple doors can be either easy to pair up almost anything with, like as if it was a darker brown when it is a deep royal purple.  If it is a bright light purple, pastels and whites will mix the best.

Best for White Doors.  

White is the neutral that showcases everything else.  However, white flowers and foliage would get lost against a white background.  If the house was a dark shade, the white flowers would accent the white door well.  White is the perfect color to showcase your favorite pastel-colored flowers, it really makes them pop better than any other color.

For color choices influenced by Feng Shui, click here…

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