Balancing the long, low architecture of a ranch house is important when designing a landscape. Adding tall trees behind the house and shorter plantings along the front and sides help make ranch houses appear taller. In homes with a semicircular driveway, the landscape design can be extended farther from the house, which adds visual depth.
Balancing a Ranch House
A general rule in landscaping front yards is that plants near the house should not be taller than two-thirds the height of the house. For low-built ranch houses, this means plantings can include small shrubs and trees. Slightly smaller trees can also be planted a few feet out from the corner of the house to make ranch houses seem taller. Plants that will work for a foundation design include beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) and rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). Both plants grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, prefer full to partial sun, and need regular watering.
Adding Visual Height
Long, low ranch houses benefit from landscape designs that add visual height. Planting tall trees behind the house draws the eye up beyond the roof line. Several trees will work for this, including maple trees (Acer spp.) and Allee Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia "Elmer II"). Maples grow in USDA zones 3 through 9, depending on the variety. These trees are poisonous if eaten, but varieties such as red maple (Acer rubrum) make excellent shade trees. Chinese elm grows in USDA zones 5 through 9, and will grow to 50 feet tall and 35 feet wide.
Mirroring the Landscape
The planting area in a semicircular drive provides more ways to add interest. When designing this part of the yard, make sure it complements the plantings in front of the house. This can be done by using some of the same plants and by planting similar flower colors. For example, beautybush blooms pink in the summer. That color can be mirrored in the driveway landscape by planting "Chi Chi" hardy pink petunia (Ruellia brittoniana "Chi Chi"), which grows in USDA zones 7 through 11 and blooms early spring through late fall.
Don't Block the View
In a semicircular drive, the planting area is often close to the road. Taller plants needed to balance a large flower bed should be placed close to the house so they do not block the view of the road when you're exiting the driveway. Short perennials, such as foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra "All Gold"), both of which grow in USDA zones 4 through 9, work well for this situation. Keep in mind that foxglove is poisonous, and should not be planted where children can reach the leaves, flowers, or seeds.