Landscaping IDEAS for Side of House
Redbud leaves give good summer shade and provide fall color.
The west side of a house presents challenges for homeowners and landscaping plants. Subjected to sun for the hottest afternoon hours, this area is harder to cool in summer. Shrubs that shade the area help save energy, but they must withstand half a day's full sun, heat and drying conditions. In winter months, it's good for sunshine to strike the west side to help warm the rooms. Deciduous, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant shrubs work best on the west side to aid with energy conservation.
On west-side walls unbroken by windows or doors, plant tall shrubs for maximum summer shading. Consider allowing western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, to grow as a large shrub. Keep it to the desired height and conformation by regular pruning. Magenta spring flowers are followed by glossy, rounded leaves. This native plant tolerates full sun and drought. For height plus multiple-season color, edible pomegranate (Punica granatum), hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11, is an option. Spring red-orange flowers yield red, fall-ripening fruits and yellow fall foliage. Pomegranate does best in a hot, sunny location for fruit production.
Shorter-growing shrubs are useful under west-side windows or as foundation plantings. Determine eventual shrub height you need by whether you want to see out of the window or wish it partially screened. A multipurpose shrub that offers bright red roses from spring through fall and purple fall leaf color, "Knock Out" rose (Rosa x "Radrazz") grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide in USDA zones 4 through 9. A taller, red-flowered shrub that grows to 6 feet tall and wide, flowering quince "Double Take Scarlet Storm" (Chaenomeles speciosa "Scarlet Storm"), which grows in USDA zones 5 through 9, blooms in early spring. It prefers full sun and is drought tolerant once established.
Use your western exposure to showcase shrubs that provide year-round color. For a powerful summer bloom display, crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is hard to beat. It grows in USDA zones 7 through 9 and needs a sunny, warm spot for best flowering. Many cultivars are available that vary in height and flower color, including shades of white, pink, red, lavender and magenta. The peeling bark adds winter color and interest after the multicolored fall leaves drop off. Another shrub with peeling bark and abundant, long-lasting flowers, oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), growing in USDA zones 5 through 9, produces conical heads of white flowers that become purplish as they age. Large, deeply lobed leaves turn purple, red or bronze in fall on bushes 6 to 7 feet tall.