Border plants are the icing on the cake of a perfect garden. They’re the ideal finishing touch that really makes your garden look and feel complete. In addition to edging your front and back garden, you can also use border plants as an attractive way to line your driveway. Here are our favourite driveway border ideas, and the best border plants for any garden.
Border plants are any plants that are purposefully used to edge the borders around your garden and/or driveway. You can also use them to create a visual or physical border between beds or separate your property from your neighbours’ front and back gardens. Plant borders also provide neat and attractive borders around garden furniture. Pair your teak garden benches with a sophisticated evergreen shrub border, or place a vibrant perennial border around a brightly upholstered chaise.
You can use a wide variety of foliage to delineate your borders, from perennial flowers to hedges, evergreen grasses to fragrant shrubs.
Even if you only have a narrow space to work with, there are plenty of plants and flowers out there that work well for borders. If you are planting up against a fence, you could also consider climbing vines. We recommend that you avoid tall perennials, as they tend to have naked stems which will look strange and sparse in a narrow border.
Libertia is an elegant choice with airy stems and white flowers, and they prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They look wonderful when planted amongst smaller evergreen shrubs.
While Bearded Iris look stylish and full, they actually don’t take up much room. They’ll do very well in full sun, and you can find them in nearly every colour of the spectrum.
We love the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle – they add such a beautiful perfume to any garden. These climbers do well in almost any conditions, but remember to add smaller plants around the base. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of bare soil on show.
Espalier trees, which have been pruned and tied in bunches to a frame, will grow flat up against a wall or fence. They only take up a little space but offer shade, fruit, and/or flowers. We especially love training peach trees, apple trees, and apricot trees in this method.
Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) can grow well even in the tightest spaces, so it does very well in narrow borders. We recommend combining it with rosemary, campanulas, and ballota – they look great together.
Ferns are a tried and true favourite for shady spots, and they make great border fillers. If you need a variety for dry soil, choose Dryopteris affinis, Asplenium scolopendrium, or Polypodium vulgare.
Planting evergreen border plants allows you to experience colour and vibrancy throughout the year, even when the weather is nasty. We love the way that evergreen shrubs, grasses, and trees look at the edges of the garden. Instead of an afterthought once the flowers are chosen, evergreen border plants can be majestic in their own right.
Stipa gigantea is one heck of an evergreen grass, producing narrow mounds of foliage with flowerheads lolling on top in summer and fall. It’s easy to maintain, as well – just pull out the dead leaves by raking your hands through the grasses.
Magnolia grandiflora is often referred to as Bull Bay, which grows to become an impressive medium-sized evergreen tree. It’s shiny leaves and cup-shaped flowers look lovely, and the flowers emit a light and refreshing citrus scent.
Sempervivums are a hardy bunch – these succulents will withstand droughts and less than ideal soil conditions. Their signature rosette shape is stylish and attractive, and they couldn’t be easier to grow. Get them started in containers and transplant them into your border garden.
Bowles’ Mauve is an evergreen perennial that works hard all year round. Don’t be surprised if it flowers for more than six months! It’s easy to grow anywhere and does exceptionally well in borders.
Yew retains its deep green shade all year round, growing well in sun and shade alike and producing red berries in the fall that will bring waxwings, thrushes and blackbirds to your garden. We love using yew for hedges – do yew?
Often referred to as the ‘swiss cheese plant,’ monstera deliciosa is easy to grow and thrives well even in the shadiest sites in your garden, such as along a fence. They lend a jungle vibe to even the most proper English gardens – go wild!
While many of the plants listed above are ornamental grasses, evergreen shrubs, and small trees, sometimes you just want something more colourful! Flower borders are a delightful way to jazz up your landscape and add a splash of colour and whimsy to your home.
The border flowers listed below can handle full sun and typical soil conditions and will look lovely until the first frost with a little deadheading. They also have coarse and hairy leaves that repel deer while attracting butterflies. Plus, you’ll always have access to a pretty bouquet to decorate your table or give as a gift!
This new breed of blanket flower doesn’t flop over as they did in the past. We love Arizona Sun Fanfare flowers, which comes in gorgeous red and yellow hues. They do very well in drought, and bloom for long periods, which you can boost with diligent deadheading.
Caradonna Sage, or Salvia nemorosa’ Caradonna,’ has dramatic violet spikes and nearly black stems – this is a goth gardener’s delight! It can grow to approximately 70 cm in height, but has relative sparse stems – this is a good choice for the front of the border, as you can see what is going on in the background.
Black-eyed Susan is technically a ‘wildflower,’ but you’ll see it in many gardens because of its reliability and cheery blooms. Most varieties have yellow-orange petals, but you can find hybrids with brighter reds and deeper oranges. They’ll bloom between June to September on tall stalks (up to 1 metre), so they can work well in the back row of your border.
Coneflower (also commonly known as echinacea) grows well in full sun and in sandy, well-drained soil. The native purple varieties are wildly popular, but you can also find bright orange and yellow hybrids that might be better for your colour scheme.
A dwarf hybrid of wild columbine, Little Lanterns do well in the shade. They grow around 30 cm in height, and both the flowers and the stems have a bold red hue that is quite eye-catching. While it prefers the shade, it will tolerate full sun as long as the soil is moist.
The following plants are some of our favourite options for garden, driveway, and property borders.
Trachelospermum jasminoides is a common gardener go-to because it climbs fences with aplomb. If you’re searching for a border plant that will blanket your wall or fence with delightful star-shaped flowers and a gorgeous perfume, this should be your first choice. Throughout the winter, the leaves will fade to a rich bronze-green.
Jacob’s ladder is always a hit, owing to its pale pink and white leaves and pretty blue flowers that hang in drooping bunches. While the pink edge to the leaves will disappear throughout the summer, this only serves to make the contrasting white elements more appealing.
Lavender is a popular choice as a narrow border plant for obvious reasons – it smells great, can be used in cooking and medicine, and its dried stalks make a lovely gift. Lavender is a truly timeless choice for any garden.
You might be used to your spring bloomers dissipating after they flower, but the King of Hearts won’t let you down like that! Its dark pink heart-shaped flowers last all throughout the spring and summer, blooming far into the fall as long as you provide well-drained loam and watering. It’s a pretty plant for any garden border!
Belladonna lilies work well in narrow borders and planters alike – its popularity is down to its big clusters of pink trumpet-shaped blooms (that smell great!) and its hardy foliage. This is a poisonous plant, which means that most critters will avoid it – take care when planting it if you have small children or pets.
With almost endless variety for your garden borders and driveway border ideas, now you just need to decide upon which flowers, shrubs and grasses will work best for your overall colour and design scheme. Happy gardening!
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Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.