how close to a foundation can I plant?
I need to cover the foundation along the side of the house and the driveway. The driveway is narrow so I need to keep the trough low to the ground so the snow removal is not hampered and about 18 inches wide. I'm in zone 5. The advice I am getting says that I need to plant at least 2 feet from the foundation. How can I do this? I was planning on putting a combination of the following: grasses, hostas, clematis, hydrangea, ferns or other plants that have volume and a little bit of height but that don't have roots that will grow so big they will crack the pavement and foundation. I am trying to ring some sort of box that can contain earth and roots that can be put in the ground and that won't deteriorate.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
You will want to give at least 2 feet distance from the house foundation for all of the plants listed by you and hydrangea will need a larger space.
You do not want the plants to touch the foundation of a home, this leads to possible damage to a homes siding by holding moisture up against the house. It also can lead to disease on the plants as they need air flow around the plants.
Larger shrubs will need a much larger space for the plant and it's root system.
I don't know of the sort of system that you mention.
Keeping plants in containers is an option. The plants that you mention can all be container grown, but will need to be repotted as they outgrow containers.
Here are a few links for you.
I have used plastic barrels with holes in the bottom for a few projects like that. I cut the barrels in half and that gives approximately 20 inches to work with in depth. Just bury the barrels flush with the top of the ground. The barrels make it hard for the roots to get out. You will need to thin the plants about every two years or so because the plants will get root bound.