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5 Beautiful Plants to Improve Your Home’s Exterior

A garden editor’s advice on the top plants that instantly transform your home’s exterior

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By House & Garden | June 24, 2024 | Gardens

Plants for window boxes

For the ultimate in low-maintenance planting, intersperse small balls of box with a seasonal display of bulbs and summer bedding: tulips in spring, geraniums in summer and winter pansies in autumn - or almost any annuals that take your fancy.

Window boxes are a small, low maintenance garden solution. Image: Supplied.

Plants for front gardens

Hummocks of clipped lavender work well in a south-facing front garden. For small spaces, repeating shapes can be most effective. Try contrasting the lavender balls with taller plants such as alliums or verbascum in between. For shady front gardens, you can't go wrong with clipped box (Buxus sempervirens) or bay tree standards with hart's tongue ferns to create different shapes.

A border of lavender adds colour and texture to a large plot of land. Image: Supplied.

If you want privacy, it's better to opt for a mature hedge - a 1.5-metre yew hedge is easy to keep nicely clipped. Lollipop-pruned hornbeam or box also offer privacy without looking dominant. Try pleaching the trees on a horizontal plane, allowing them to grow together to form a living wall.

Choosing climbing plants

There are many plants to train up the front of your house, but beware of those like Clematis montana and Virginia creeper that will quickly rampage up and over everything,' says House & Garden UK garden editor Clare Foster. 'Climbing roses and wisteria are the classic countryhouse choices.

For designer of this Johannesburg home, they were cautioned that their design changes would leave little room for art, but the garden is the art. Photography by Vignette.

For urban spaces, Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) is one of the easiest climbers, happy in sun or semi-shade. Climbers are best trained using a wire and vineeye system. Screw the vine-eyes into the masonry to create a system of taut wires, either vertical or horizontal, and about 45cm apart. For smaller climbers such as clematis, screw a wooden trellis to the wall. Try Green Wall Systems or Stainless Steel Solutions for ready-made kits.

Rambling roses

Rambling Roses. Image: Supplied.

Go for a rambler or climbing rose with long, flexible stems. 'Madame Alfred Carrière' has delicate flowers in the palest of pinks.

A cover of clematis

A vigorous clematis, such as Clematis montana var. grandiflora will grow quickly to cover bare wood. Starry white flowers will smother the plant in late spring and early summer.

Clematis montana var. grandiflora. Image: Supplied.

Ornamental vines

Vitis vinifera 'Lakemont' is a good grapevine, producing white, seedless grapes. If you want an ornamental vine, Vitis coignetiae has crimson leaves in autumn.

Creeping Vitis coignetiae. Image: Supplied.

A scented bower aka honeysuckle

For a scented bower, Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas' produces fragrant honeysuckle all summer.

Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas'. Image: Supplied.

This story originally appeared on our sister site, House & Garden UK