Townhouse landscape design

Townhouse landscape design Photo: Stephanie A. Pully

Updated: August 8, 2022

Landscape designs using native plants

  • Simple landscape designs using native plants can reduce the amount of lawn to maintain and produce climate-resilient, diverse landscapes in townhome and single-family home communities. They support pollinators and native wildlife as well.
  • These plant recommendations and design plans are suggestions based on an average townhouse plot and an average single-family home. Some plants may not be appropriate for all situations. Local garden centers or nurseries can recommend similar plants to suit your site's conditions. Always ask for alternatives that are native plants.
  • Most of the plants are native to Maryland or the southeastern U.S. Aim to have at least 70% native plants to help support native beneficial insects and birds.
  • The designs can be implemented over time. Begin by removing or relocating existing plants that are showing signs of stress or have outgrown the space. The area closest to structures should be planted in the first phase. This reduces the trampling of smaller plants and compacting the soil.
  • If you have concerns about landscaping rules imposed by your HOA, check out this bill passed in 2021 by the Maryland General Assembly. It prohibits property managers from putting unreasonable limitations on low-impact landscaping such as habitat, pollinator, rain gardens, and xeriscaping.

Create sustainable, biodiverse landscapes

These designs move away from common foundation plants that tend to be overused, non-native (often invasive such as Japanese barberry), and not connected to our local ecology. Landscapes with more plant diversity are more resilient to changes in the environment and native plants support beneficial insects that provide pollination, food for birds, and natural pest control.

Quick planting tips. While some plants will grow in less than ideal conditions, the growth and health of the plants will be optimal if their needs are being met.

  • Perform a soil test before planting.
  • Incorporate organic matter into the entire area prior to planting.
  • After planting, apply mulch at a maximum depth of 3” to maintain soil moisture, protect roots from winter damage, and reduce weed growth until plants get established.
  • Regularly monitor newly planted areas for moisture, especially during the first year after planting.

Townhome landscape designs

townhome landscape design perspective

These designs are provided as a guide. Use as much of the plan as applies to your area. It can be installed in phases. The largest plant types and areas closest to structures should be planted in the first phase. The quantity of each type of plant needed will depend on the area available for planting, the ultimate spread of the plant, and your budget. These designs can be used for sun, shade, and all light exposures in between.

Design: Stephanie A. Pully

  • left side townhouse landscape design detail

    Left end townhouse unit

    Click image to view full-size design

  • interior townhouse unit landscape design

    Interior townhouse unit

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  • right side townhouse landscape design detail

    Right end townhouse unit

    Click image to view full-size design

  • key to symbols on landscape designs

    Plant symbol key

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Single-family home landscape design

single family home landscape design
Design: Stephanie A. Pully

As with the townhome designs, this design is provided as a suggestion of how areas of turf can be replaced with native plants. Refer to the information on native plants and the list of plants for sunny and shady conditions. 

Maryland native plants for townhomes or single-family home landscapes

Recommended Native Plants of Maryland has photos and details about native plants including many of the plants in the following lists.

Tips for using the tables below:

  • Select one plant species from each plant category for a cohesive, uncluttered design. The quantity of each species to plant depends on the amount of space you have and your budget. The more plant material that covers the area, the fewer weeds can germinate and grow, reducing the need to mulch. You could also start with fewer plants. As they grow and multiply, divide them and replant to cover more area.
  • A cultivar is a plant variety produced in cultivation by selective breeding for specific traits such as dwarf size or disease resistance. The cultivar name is designated within single quotes such as Juniperus virginiana ‘Gray Owl’. Many of the recommended species have cultivars for you to choose from, but be aware that there are some pros and cons to using cultivars of native plants.
  • An " * " indicates that either a male plant of the same species or a second plant of the same species is required for cross-pollination to produce fruit/berries.

Plant category key

A = groundcover, maturing about 1' tall or shorter, spreading. Spacing depends on selection.
B = perennial
C = small shrub, maturing at 2-4' tall and wide. Space about 3' apart.
D = medium shrub, maturing at 4-6' tall and wide. Space about 4' apart.
E = large shrub, maturing at 6-10' tall and wide. Space about 5' apart.
F = small tree, maturing at 15-30' tall and wide. Space about 20' from each other, a building, sidewalk, or other structure.

Soil moisture key

D = dry soil
M = medium soil moisture
W = wet soil

Light requirements

Full sun = six or more hours of direct, unobstructed, sunlight per day during the active growing season
Full shade = three or fewer hours of sunlight a day

  • Partial sun, partial shade, and similar terms aren't strictly defined by a specific amount of unobstructed sunlight. The relative amount of sunlight for partial shade is less than for partial sun.
  • Heat and light reflecting off of hard surfaces can increase the perceived amount of sun.
  • All plants need some light to survive. Plants labeled for full sun or full shade are less tolerant of the middle range of available sunlight.
  • Gardening is not an exact science, especially in a changing climate. Accept that some plants may need to be replaced over time with a plant that prefers that location's conditions.

Plant list for sunny conditions

Key Scientific name Common name Soil Showy blooms Scent Winter Wildlife
A Aronia melanocarpa 'Ground Hug' or 'Low Scape Mound' Black chokeberry D-W yes none minimal flowers, berries
A Juniperus communis 'Alpine Carpet' or 'Green Carpet' Common juniper D-M no none evergreen berries*
A Phlox sublulata Moss phlox D yes none evergreen flowers
B Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop M yes yes (foliage) minimal flowers
B Baptisia australis False blue indigo D-M yes none minimal flowers
B Penstemon digitalis Foxglove beardtongue M yes none minimal flowers
C Fothergilla gardenii Dwarf fothergilla M yes mild minimal flowers
C Ilex vomitoria 'Nana' Dwarf yaupon holly M-W no none evergreen, berries flowers, berries*
C Juniperus virginiana 'Gray Owl' Dwarf Eastern redcedar D-M no none evergreen berries*
D Clethra alnifolia Sweet pepperbush M-W yes yes minimal flowers
D Ilex glabra Inkberry holly M-W no none evergreen flowers, berries*
D Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet' Virginia sweetspire M yes mild minimal flowers
E Aronia arbutifolia Red chokeberry D-M-W yes none berries flowers, berries
E Ilex verticillata Winterberry holly M-W no none berries flowers, berries*
E Myrica pennsylvanica Northern bayberry D-M no yes (foliage) semi-evergreen berries*
F Amelanchier sp. Serviceberry M yes none minimal flowers, berries
F Cercis canadensis Eastern redbud M yes none minimal flowers, seeds
F Crategus viridis 'Winter King' Winter King green hawthorn D-M yes none berries flowers, berries

Plant list for shady conditions

Key Scientific name Common name Soil Showy blooms Scent Winter Wildlife
A Asarum canadense Wild ginger M no none minimal flowers
A Chrysogonum virginianum Green and gold D-M yes none semi-evergreen flowers
A Tiarella cordifolia Foamflower M yes none semi-evergreen flowers
B Aster cordifolius Blue wood aster D-M yes none minimal flowers
B Athyrium filix-femina Lady fern M no none minimal flowers
B Heuchera americana Alumroot D-M yes none semi-evergreen flowers
C Leucothoe axillaris Leucothoe M yes none evergreen flowers
C Gaylussacia baccata Black huckleberry D-M yes none minimal flowers
C Hydrangea arborescens Smooth hydrangea M yes none minimal flowers
D Fothergilla (any) Fothergilla M-W yes strong minimal flowers
D Viburnum acerifolium Mapleleaf viburnum D-M yes mild minimal flowers
D Hydrangea quercifolia Oakleaf hydrangea M-W yes none minimal flowers
E Calycanthus floridus Carolina allspice D-M yes strong minimal flowers
E Hamamelis virginiana Common witchhazel D-M-W yes mild minimal flowers
E Lindera benzoin Spicebush M-W yes mild (foliage) minimal berries
F Carpinus caroliniana American hornbeam M-W no none bark seeds
F Cercis canadensis Eastern redbud M yes none minimal flowers, seeds
F Cornus florida Flowering dogwood M yes none minimal flowers, berries

Authors: Christa Carignan, Horticulturist & Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center, Miri Talabac, Horticulturist & Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center, and Ria Malloy, Horticulturist & Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center. Landscape design: Ria Malloy, Horticulturist & Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center. Graphic design: Stephanie A. Pully, State Master Gardener Coordinator. 2022