15 Awesome and Easy Garden Border Ideas

Garden Border Ideas

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A good garden border doesn’t just define the boundaries of a garden, lawn or pathway. It also provides aesthetic value, highlights and smooth transitions. Even better, it fits into the visual style of the garden while offering other values like attracting beneficial wildlife and pollinators. Above all, a good garden border visually appeals to you, its owner.

Every good garden border idea aims to provide these qualities. It (the idea) could be simple, elaborate, costly, cheap, formal or experimental. The resulting garden border could be well-groomed, wild, colourful, monochromatic, full, or sparsely populated. Anything works as long as you get the desired results. 

In other words, a garden border idea can come in many forms. The ones we are about to share with you are just a drop in the ocean. However, they are great, simple and effective ways to add awesomeness to your garden borders. So without further ado, here are some border ideas for gardens.

Grow evergreens for their dependability and year-round foliage

For a garden border that never disappoints any time of the year, latch on to this garden border idea. Evergreens are always reliable. Evergreens will remain when other plants die or become dormant in autumn and winter. Therefore, your garden border will always have something for eyes to feast on. 

As a matter of fact, evergreens are essential border plants. They form the backbones of many borders. They make an incredible sight, too, with beautifully shaped, textured and ever-present green foliage. Some great easy-to-grow evergreen border plants are boxwood, holly, lavender, and juniper.

Evergreen Shrubs

Bring in some colourful foliage

While evergreens provide a year-round visual interest, they are limited colour-wise. Green foliage can be visually striking but a burst of colours is more interesting. So, it’s time to bring in plants that have colourful foliage. Examples include:

  • Heucheras: shades of silver to black
  • Artemisias: shades of silver, white, grey, green and blue
  • Sedums: shades of green, red, yellow, silver, and blue
  • Caladium: shades of pink, white and green, depending on the plant

There are lots of plants with colourful foliage. So, this garden border planting idea is not just powerful. It is also easy. You have many options among annuals, perennials, and flowering and non-flowering plants.

Colorful Foilage

Grow flowering bulbs for a rich colour burst

Bulbs are the surest ways to introduce a full burst of colours into any garden. It’d be a shame to miss out on the range of colours they provide. So, consider this an essential garden border planting idea. Add narcissuses, daffodils, alliums, tulips and snowdrops to your garden border.

In summer and spring, those bulbs will start to bloom, and their flowers will serve as the focal point of your garden. To take full advantage of this, plant your bulbs front and centre or where they will quickly draw the eye.

Bulb Flowering

Grow late-flowering plants too

Who says you can only get colourful flowers in spring and summer? Late flowering plants like aster, pansies, Lenten, heather and black tulip say otherwise. These plants bloom in late autumn. So they will provide colours and visual interest when the spring and summer bulbs have started to wilt and die. As a result, your garden border won’t be left with only green foliage.

Flowering Plants

Edible herbs and spices are a welcome addition

Here are four reasons to consider herbs and spices as part of your garden border ideas. Firstly, they look great. Secondly, they give off pleasant scents. Thirdly, they are low maintenance and easy to grow. Fourthly, they are edible.

You can even use this garden border idea to maximise your growing space. For example, you can grow herbs and spices on the border to free up growing space inside the garden. Herbs and spices to consider for a garden border include rosemary, lemon, sage, chives, oregano, thyme, garlic and savoury.

Herbs & Spices Garden

Scented plants are powerful

A garden border is a perfect place to experiment with scented plants. Firstly, you won’t have to worry about using precious growing space. Secondly, you tap into what is arguably our most primitive and earliest sense organ. The smell is very powerful. So, scented plants can have a powerful effect on your garden border.

Most plants have a smell. So you are already using this garden border planting idea, albeit unintentionally. However, the effect is more powerful when you grow plants for their scent. 

Scented plants to consider for a garden border include honeysuckle, Daphne, hazel, roses and the herbs discussed in the last garden border idea. Do note that “all scented plants are not equal.” Some have subtle scents, while others have powerful ones. Some scents are so powerful that your neighbours will smell them from their properties.

Scented Plants

Low-maintenance plants are a lifesaver

Here is the garden border idea that will save you a lot of pain and stress. Focus on low-maintenance plants. That’s what experienced gardeners do. You shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to get the border you want. 

These plants can survive and still look good after extended periods of drought and neglect. Therefore, you won’t waste too much time watering, feeding, and grooming. So, if you are busy, a low-maintenance border is the answer. In fact, it is the perfect garden border idea for most people. 

Examples of low-maintenance border plants include:

  • Annuals: impatiens, alyssum, dwarf zinnias and petunias
  • Perennials: Nepeta, Rozanne, lavender, Lucerne blue-eyed grass and Echinacea
  • Evergreens: we have talked about them already
Low-maintenance plants

Create variety and contrast

A good garden border is eye-catching; one of the best ways to achieve this is through variety and contrast. A little variety and contrast will increase the visual appeal of anything. Achieve these by adding various plant types, sizes, shapes, textures, colours and flowers to your garden border. 

Prioritising variety in any of these factors will add contrast and visual interest to your garden border. However, don’t just do this randomly. Apply some strategy. If not, your garden border could easily dissolve into chaos. Here are some garden border planting ideas for adding variety and contrast.

  • Use focal plants sparingly and strategically: A focal plant draws attention because of its colour, flowers, shape, height etc. Use these plants to catch the eye, break patterns and stop your garden border from becoming dull. However, the effect starts losing power if you use it too often. 
  • Grow both flowering and non-flowering plants: This will ensure your garden border has more than one way to catch the eye. 
  • Grow plants with different booming times: Grow both summer and autumn bloomers.
  •  Arrange the plants in layers: This gives the border order and cohesion. You can put focal or small plants at the front and taller plants at the back. 
  • Think about how the plants will complement and contrast each other: Ensure your border plants have some kind of relationship with each other. You can even try symbiotic plants.
  • Use seed blends: or mix the seeds yourself before planting. That’s an easy way to get variety.
Colorful Garden Borders

Use tall plants and trees for visual impact

This garden border idea is an extension of the last one. Tall plants and trees are focal plants because most border plants are short or low-lying. So, the occasional tall plant can have a powerful visual effect.

You can try tall shrubs (gladioli, allium), tall grasses (coreopsis, Aureola and Stipa Gigantica), tropical trees (bamboo and palm tree) or creepers on a trellis or fence. Just remember that tall plants may block smaller ones from view and sunlight. So, consider growing taller plants at the back of the border, where they won’t block the others. Another option is to grow taller plants in the middle and surround them with smaller ones.

tall plants garden border

Fill up your border

Use every inch of growing space in your garden border. It will make the border look full, increase visual interest and reduce the risks of weeds and erosion. 

Of course, you have to do this strategically. Therefore, before you start planting, consider available space and the mature size of each plant. Avoid overcrowding and try to space your border plants correctly. If there are issues, you can remove or relocate some plants. That is always an option but it is easier to prevent this from happening in the first place.

So, use the garden border ideas in this article to fill up your garden border. Plant bulbs, shrubs, ground cover plants etc., but do so strategically. That is the entire point of this article.

Use every inch of garden border

Use shrubs for bulk

Add shrubs if your garden border has bald patches and you don’t know what to do. Think of them as “the ideal plants fulfilling up a garden border.” Shrubs play this role well because they are low-maintenance, resilient and fast-growing. Sow and watch them fill up that space quickly.

In fact, you may soon have to start trimming, or they could grow out of control. Take advantage of this by shaping the lovely dense foliage into creative shapes and sizes. That’s another idea for your garden border. Finally, shrubs are evergreen. They will never allow your border to go bare. Examples include boxwood, holly, and azalea.

garden shrubs

Climbing plants have their appeal

There is something about creepers stretching along a wall or spilling over the edges of a garden border. It’s a beautiful sight that gives the feeling of a wild garden. Yet, every gardener knows that this aesthetics takes some planning and precision. Therefore, climbing plants can raise the status of your garden border and entire property. 

When growing climbing plants, consider adding a support structure. You can use a nearby wall (like your garden fence), trellis or archway. This height difference (from other plants) and the uniqueness of the climbing plant(s) will create another focal point. So, you will enjoy this garden border idea. 

However, no rule says you must install support structures for climbing plants. You can use them as ground cover or allow them to spill over the edge of the border. Here are some climbing plants to try in a garden border: dianthus, euphorbia, low-spreading sedums and short asters.

Climbing Plants

Let your garden border decide

Here is another garden border planting idea that veteran gardeners use to save themselves from stress and pain. Focus on plants that will excel under the growing conditions of your garden border. This idea works for every gardening situation. Use it, and you won’t labour to grow a full and rich border or garden. 

To use this garden border planting idea, you must know your border area’s soil type, fertility, and light levels. After this, find border plants that can survive and flourish in those growing conditions. Here are some examples.

  • A shaded garden border with a limited supply of sunlight: grow shade-loving plants like hostas, astilbe, hydrangea, caladium and fern
  • A sun-soaked garden border with lots of sunlight: grow sun-loving plants like allium, lily, iris, sunflower and marigold
  • A garden border with dry soil: grow lavender, sedum, cardoon and santolina
  • A garden border with moist/wet soil: grow hosta, astilbe, royal fern, hibiscus
  • A garden border with infertile soil: grow lavender, yarrow, sunflower, butterfly weed and sedum

Even if you have a particular border plant in mind, It is still a good idea to figure out the growing conditions of your garden border. At least, you will know the amount of care and work it will take to care for that plant(s). Another option is to take the part of least resistance by going for a more appropriate and resilient alternative to that plant. For example, you could grow miniature roses instead of normal-sized ones.

Garden Soil

Garden edges still have their place         

Garden edges are the easiest way to get a well-trimmed and well-defined border. Consider installing them. Garden edging indicates where the garden ends and the border starts. Therefore, it is easier to care for one without messing with the other. You can stop border plants from creeping into the garden and avoid damaging the border when working in the garden.

Garden edges also add aesthetic value to a border. Common edging materials include concrete, stone, wood, brick and steel. Any of these can make your garden more visually appealing.

garden edge

Let your garden border repopulate naturally

You don’t have to clear your garden border when plants die or at the end of the growing season. Leave the dead plants to serve as mulch and manure. When you don’t clear your garden border, the seeds of those border plants will also have enough time to germinate and repopulate the area. Then you won’t have to start all over every season. Instead, you will only need to fill up the remaining space.

Garden borders are that easy. Caring for them doesn’t and shouldn’t take too much time and effort. Just the occasional weeding, watering, and fertilisation should be enough. Once in a while or at the beginning of the season, add compost to serve as mulch, nutritional supplement and protection (for the soil) against moisture loss.

You can use homemade compost, peat-free compost, animal manure, bark, wood chippings and liquid seaweed food. You can also use pebbles, gravel or crushed concrete. However, these last three will only help with weed growth, moisture loss and erosions. They don’t have nutritional value.

garden border cleaning

3 garden border tips you need to know

Here are three tips to help you make the most of our garden border ideas and develop your own.

Keep it simple

Don’t over complicate your garden border ideas. We often take simplicity for granted, confusing it with boredom. A simple garden border doesn’t have to be boring. It can be elegant and well-thought. This kind of simplicity is tough to maintain. However, it will prevent your garden border from descending into chaos. 

Have a theme

The theme of your garden border could be a colour scheme, plant choice and positioning or style. It can be anything. Just make sure to adopt a theme. It will give your efforts direction and clarity. This will increase the harmony and sophistication of your garden border. 

Do some research

You have already started. That’s how you found this article. You can also look at other web pages, magazines and people’s garden borders. By the time you are done, you will have more garden border ideas than you can wrap your mind around. Choose the ones that best appeal to you and your situation. Then apply the ideas directly or use them as inspiration. It is up to you.


Once again, garden border ideas come in all forms. Try anything and everything as long as you find the result appealing. Then try something else if you don’t. That’s the only way to find the perfect garden border. So be ready to experiment. However, if you are undecided, try the following garden border planting ideas. Then follow up with the others.

  • Sow evergreens to provide year-round foliage.
  • Sow bulbs to provide the colour busts in spring and summer.
  • Focus on low-maintenance plants
Author: Eleanor

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