14 Great Plants for the Front of Your House

‘Miss Lemon’ Abelia Plant for Front Yard
Photo: Courtesy of PDSI

One of the most common requests I receive from readers is for a list of well-behaved bushes they can plant in front of the house that won't eventually swallow it. Here it is. The following plants are quite varied but share two things. First, they're compact growers, need little pruning, aren't fussy to grow, won't swallow your house, and deer won't eat them. Second, they all belong to our Southern Living Plant Collection. Click on the link to read more about them and find local retailers in your area that carry them.

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'Miss Lemon' Abelia

‘Miss Lemon’ Abelia Plant for Front Yard
Courtesy of PDSI

This mounding evergreen features variegated leaves with edges that age from yellow to ivory. Its light pink flowers attract pollinators all summer. It grows about three feet tall and four feet wide. 'Miss Lemon' likes full to part sun, well-drained soil, and is suited to USDA Zones 6 to 9. (The Southern Living Plants site includes a USDA Zone map.)

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'Emerald Snow' Lororpetalum

‘Emerald Snow’ Lororpetalum plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

Giant purple loropetalums are notorious for devouring houses, but 'Emerald Snow' won't. This evergreen grows four to six feet high and three to four feet wide. It features green leaves and showy, white flowers in spring. Give it full to part sun and acidic, well-drained soil. I recommend it for USDA Zones 7 to 9. If necessary, prune it after it finishes blooming.

03 of 15

'Baby Gem' Japanese Boxwood

‘Baby Gem’ Japanese Boxwood plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

This highly improved, glossy-leafed boxwood slowly grows into a tidy muffin about four feet tall and wide. It does well in the ground or containers and is much more pest-resistant than English or American boxwood. It likes full to part sun and well-drained soil. Plant it in USDA Zones 4 to 9.

04 of 15

'Light Show' Red Bottlebrush

‘Light Show’ Red Bottlebrush plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

A good choice for people living in the milder parts of the South, this small, thin-leafed evergreen grows two to three feet tall and wide. Showy red flowers that attract pollinators appear atop the foliage in summer and fall. Give it full sun and well-drained soil. It tolerates drought and salt air (a good choice for the beach) and thrives in USDA Zones 8 to 10.

05 of 15

'Obsession' Nandina

‘Obsession’ Nandina plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

Many people hate nandina and if you're one of them, maybe this new kind will change your mind. 'Obsession' is dense and compact, grows three to four feet tall and wide, doesn't get naked at the bottom, and its roots don't spread. It also doesn't bloom or produce toxic berries, so you don't have to fret about poisoning those dear cedar waxwings. New foliage emerges bright red. Grow 'Obsession' in sun or light shade and well-drained soil in USDA Zones 6 to 9.

06 of 15

'Everillo' Carex

‘Everillo’ Carex plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

I give Charlotte landscape architect Jay Sifford constant grief about planting swaths of 'Everillo' carex on every single one of his jobs, but it's easy to see why he does. This mounding grass-like perennial glows a bright chartreuse all year. Growing 12- to 18-inches tall and wide, it's great for lining paths, illuminating shady areas, growing in containers, and mixing with blue, orange, deep green, or burgundy plants. It likes partial sun to shade, takes some drought, and deer don't like it. Plant in USDA Zones 5 to 9.

07 of 15

'Soft Caress' Mahonia

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

Boy, do I love this plant! Growing about three feet tall and wide, this graceful evergreen boasts soft-textured foliage reminiscent of bamboo that's great for combining with coarser plants like hydrangeas. Pretty yellow flowers crown the shrub in winter. It thrives in partial sun or shade in moist, well-drained soil. Plug it into a border or grow it in a container. It's suited to USDA Zones 7 to 9 and is not on Bambi's menu.

08 of 15

These Plants are Grumpy Gardener Approved

09 of 15

'Mojo' Japanese Pittosporum

‘Mojo’ Japanese Pittosporum plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

Tolerant of wind, sandy soil, drought, and salt spray, this compact evergreen is great for the beach, but thrives in suburbia too. Unlike other forms of pittosporum that get huge, 'Mojo' pittosporum reaches only three feet tall and wide—perfect for planting under windows. It combines handsome, variegated foliage with sweetly fragrant spring flowers. Give it sun and well-drained soil. Deer turn up their noses at it. Grow it in USDA Zones 7 to 10.

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'Chef's Choice' Rosemary

‘Chef’s Choice’ Rosemary plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

Why run out to the herb garden for a sprig of rosemary for cooking, when you can clip one or two at the foot of your front steps? Flaunting showy blue flowers in spring, 'Chef's Choice' also boasts a high oil content in its needles—very welcome in the kitchen. In the garden or a container, this tidy, carefree evergreen forms a mound about 12 inches high and 18 inches wide. Deer hate it. Grow it in sun and well-drained soil in USDA Zones 7 to 10.

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'Jewel Box' Distylium

‘Jewel Box' Distylium plant for front yard
Courtesy of PDSI

Looking for a nifty, easy-to-grow alternative to all-too-common boxwood, azalea, juniper, and holly? Give 'Jewel Box' distylium a go. Don't let the fact that it's new and you've never heard of it dissuade you. Soft, thin, evergreen leaves line its refined, layered branches. Small red flowers adorn it in winter. 'Jewel Box' tops out at two to three feet high and three to four feet wide. Deer usually don't bother it. It tolerates heat, drought, and wet soil and enjoys sun or light shade in USDA Zones 7 to 9.

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Purple Pixie Dwarf Weeping Loropetalum

‘Purple Pixie' dwarf loropetalum

Need a go-with-the-flow showstopper? If you live in USDA Zones 7a through 9b. Check out the evergreen Purple Pixie Dwarf Weeping Loropetalum. It grows one to two feet high and spans four to five feet wide, thriving in full sun to partial shade. In the spring, expect showy pink flowers, though you'll enjoy its rich purple foliage all year long.

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Cast in Bronze Distylium

Cast in Bronze Distylium
Southern Living Plant Collection

The disease- and pest-resistant Cast in Bronze Distylium is a compact shrub that can reach a rounded three to four feet in height once mature. It's suited for USDA Zones 7a through 9b and tolerates full sun to part shade. New growth appears in bronzy shades of maroon and matures into a rich and shiny green.

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Yewtopia Plum Yew

Yewtopia Plum Yew
Courtesy of the Southern Living Plant Collection

An evergreen shrub for a shady spot does not need to come down to a choice between holly and boxwood. Meet Yewtopia plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Plania'). Boasting handsome, deep green, needle-like foliage, it grows slowly to three to four feet high and wide and needs little pruning. It has few if any pests and deer won't eat it. All it basically requires is well-drained soil. Once established, it tolerates heat and drought well. Grow it in USDA Zones 6 to 10.

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'Orange Rocket' Barberry

Orange Rocket Barberry
Southern Living Plant Collection

This easy-care 'Orange Rocket' Barberry will bring a dose of brilliantly colored foliage to your yard, starting with vibrant coral new growth maturing into ruby red foliage that'll keep the show going into the fall. It works best in USDA Zones 5a through 9b and tolerates full sun to partial shade. It's a vertically shaped shrub, reaching about four feet high and one-and-a-half feet wide once mature.

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