Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (2023)

It can be tricky knowing where to start with garden border planting ideas. It’s so tempting to go to the nursery on a sunny day and buy a variety of plants that you like the look of, without researching what they will work well with or where they will thrive.

As a garden designer, that's where I come in. As designers, we think of gardens as a whole, creating areas that share a common visual language and planting schemes with different environments in mind.

With a little bit of know-how, however, you can use the same approach as a garden designer in your outdoor space to create stunning garden borders that will suit your plot, the weather conditions and the space you have available.

To help you create the best possible planting scheme, our garden border planting ideas includes six different options for a range of plots. So whether you have a hot and sunny garden border or a more shaded spot you'll find a layout to suit your space.

Each layout idea includes a list of key plants to include in your planting scheme, along with information on where to place them in the border to create the best effect. Whether you're transforming an existing border or creating a new one from scratch, it's a simple, easy-to-follow method.

Transform your plot with our 6 easy-to-follow garden border planting ideas

Your garden borders are a key consideration for how to plan your garden design with a specific look and feel, so it's worth spending the time getting them right.

The layouts for our six different garden border planting ideas are for a 3x6.5ft (1x2m) space, but this can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your plot.

1. A scented border for light shade

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (1)

(Image credit: Future)

List of key plants:

  1. Hyacinth orientalis ‘Delft Blue’
  2. Daphne ‘Perfume Princess'
  3. Lavandula angustifolia ‘Felice’
  4. Osmanthus delavayi

Perhaps it’s because we can’t see it, but scent is often overlooked when it comes to garden design. However a garden without fragrance isn’t fulfilling its potential. Your outdoor space should delight all your senses, and this border is created to have something flowering throughout the year that offers just that.

Most of the plants I’ve chosen are fairly hardy, but the border will do best in a spot that has light shade for at least some of the day, and that doesn’t get waterlogged.

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (2)

(Image credit: Tom Meaker / Alamy Stock Photo)

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Learning how to plant a border for year round color involves ensuring you have a strong main structural plant as part of your garden border planting ideas. In this design the plant is a Daphne odora ‘Perfume Princess’. Like most daphnes, it doesn’t like its roots getting dry - so make sure you keep them well watered during the hotter months.

Put your Hyacinth orientalis near a garden path so you can enjoy its amazing scent. Both the daphne and Osmanthus will appreciate a good mulching once a year.

Make sure you cut some of those stems off every now and again to enjoy the scent indoors! Add sweet peas, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Oxford Blue’ and Lathyrus odoratus ‘Charlie’s Angel’, into the border in the summer to complement the lavender both in color and scent.

2. An evergreen border

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (3)

(Image credit: Future)

List of key plants:

  1. Bergenia ‘Ice Queen’
  2. Sarcococca hookeriana 'Winter Gem'
  3. Heuchera ‘Black Beauty’
  4. Pachysandra terminalis

There’s no two ways about it, shade gardens can be a bit of a challenge. So much so that people often write off a shady part of the plot as their sad corner, and use them as a dumping ground for bicycles, bonfires or sheds. But there are so many beautiful shade loving plants which will thrive in these areas.

I imagine this scheme would be particularly useful down the side of a house or a front drive where you want evergreens that are easy to grow but also something to enjoy in terms of smell and flowers.

The Sarcococca's common name is ‘Sweet box’ and its smell is divine, particularly as it shows up in the depths of winter when we often need cheering up the most.

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (4)

(Image credit: Matthew Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo)

Light pruning will help the Sarcococca to keep its shape. Remove faded flower spikes and watch out vine weevil, which can attack heuchera.

Deadheading flowers after they have faded from the Bergenia and applying a slow-release fertilizer around the plant will keep it healthy. Lift and divide large clumps in early spring as these can get quite carried away.

Place the Sarcococca near the edge of your path so you can enjoy its scent in the winter. If you add in the Anemone blanda, put it under a tree or a shrub - it's a good low maintenance ground cover plant which will create a lovely carpet of flowers for you in the spring.

3. A gravel border for a dry, sunny spot

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (5)

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(Image credit: Future)

List of key plants:

  1. Stipa tenuissima
  2. Geum ‘Mai Tai’
  3. Iris ‘Alaska’
  4. Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii

Gravel gardens aren’t just for the Mediterranean. Here, in this little border plan, a mix of peachy oranges and zesty greens rustle together to create an ethereal, low-maintenance scheme as well as a great garden gravel idea.

This is an increasingly popular style of planting, as it requires little irrigation and by using a gravel mulch you can help the soil retain its moisture at the same time as keeping weeds at bay.

This is ideal for putting in raised beds where you can enjoy the sway of grasses from both inside or outside the house, but really it will work in most sunny, dry spots, particularly in a south-facing garden and the drought tolerant plants will be quite happy in relatively poor soil.

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(Image credit: Alamy)

Give the plants space; this is not a crowded herbaceous border but a lighter touch planting scheme that let’s each species sing. Unlike bigger, tougher grasses, Stipa tenuissima doesn’t need an annual chop; instead, pull your fingers through it gently, every now and again, to remove any dead parts.

Deadhead the Geum regularly in the summer to prolong the flowering period. Experiment with seeds and bulbs too – another good addition to this border would be alliums or nerine for color before and after summer.

Choose a light, bright gravel as your ‘mulch’ layer; this will make the colors in the border really pop.

4. A sunny prairie-style border

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(Image credit: Future)

List of key plants:

  • Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’
  • Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’
  • Molinia caerulea subsp. Arundinacea ‘Transparent’
  • Echinacea purpurea

Inspired by the prairies of North America (parts of which have a similar climate to areas of the UK), prairie-style planting is increasingly popular due to its matrix of colors and textures, and its natural, unmanicured look. Like a wildflower meadow, these landscapes are loose and relaxed, and there isn’t any formal topiary in sight.

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Most of the plants chosen here are versatile and will work on clay and chalk soils, but will appreciate free draining soil. A spot in full sun will get you the best results.

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (8)

(Image credit: Lois GoBe / Alamy Stock Photo)

Give the Molinia lots of space and keep an eye on it as it establishes so it doesn’t get overshadowed by the other plants. You can just cut the plants in this scheme back once a year in early spring; Sanguisorba in particular looks beautiful through the winter thanks to its floaty seedheads.

The poppies can be sown in fall, and will add to that more random feel as they’ll surprise you where they come up. Having said that, be careful not to be too diligent with your weeding and accidentally take the poppies out!

Repeat this scheme over a bigger scale for even more drama, mixing in dogwoods and allium bulbs for scale and more color across the seasons.

5. Cottage garden-style border

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(Image credit: Future)

List of key plants:

  1. Thalicturm delavayi ‘Hewit’s Double’
  2. Tiarella 'Sky Rocket'
  3. Geranium 'Orion'
  4. Alcea rosea ‘Halo Blush’

Colorful, wild, rambling, inviting… this is a romantic look which many people strive to emulate in the their garden border planting ideas. And while the best cottage garden plants that we associate with it can be used in many settings, it’s only when they’re carefully combined that they create that romantic look.

Plenty of light and sun will make this border easy to grow and care for. Most of the plants here will tolerate partial shade and most slightly acidic, slightly alkaline or neutral soils.

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (10)

(Image credit: Anne Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo)

This isn’t a scheme for the faint hearted, with lots of bold colors mixing in with each other, but it’s certainly cheery! Divide the geranium after a few years if it's getting too big for its boots.

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Go big with the bulbs (most of the plants in this scheme flower in the summer) and they will reward you with fab spring color. The Alcea rosea ‘halo’ is one of the bigger hollyhocks, so position yours on the side of the flowerbed especially if you have a view behind you want to maintain

Add some climbing roses in if you repeat this across a bigger space, using obelisks for them to climb – or a wall, if you have a sunny south-facing one.

6. Easy low-maintenance border

Garden border planting ideas: 6 stunning layouts to try in your plot (11)

(Image credit: Future)

List of key plants:

  • Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’
  • Hydrangea arborscens ‘Strong Annabelle’
  • Miscanthus sinensis
  • Geranium Dreamland ‘Bremdream’

Lots of us want nothing more than a stunning low maintenance garden, and there are plenty of ways to achieve this. Usually evergreen shrubs are a good bet, as they do their thing and don’t need much help (except for the occasional pruning).

But if you want something with a little more interest in it, this border is a good start; and still very low key in terms of care thanks to its mix of shrubs and grasses and long flowering perennials.

This scheme would like full sun but tolerate part shade. As for the conditions, just make sure it’s not somewhere too windy, or the hydrangeas will get battered.

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(Image credit: Botany vision / Alamy Stock Photo)

When landscaping with grasses it's important to give the Miscanthus plenty of space and try to put it in a spot where it gets a good amount of sun. Leave the flower heads on the hydrangeas over winter, their golden colors will look fantastic against the tall, textured Miscanthus.

Keep the Pittisporum nice and rounded to contrast the height and spread of the other plants. TheMuscari baby’s breath smells divine so put it somewhere you can enjoy it!

If you enjoy this scheme and want to try something a bit higher in maintenance, this would work really well combined with the prairie-style border in a bigger space.

When is the best time of year to plan a new garden border layout?

Fall can be a great time to be planning your borders for the following spring and summer. Not only are the bare root plants and trees available to buy now much less expensive, but you will be giving your new border plenty of time to get its roots in, at the same time as sowing seeds and planting bulbs.

But garden centres will have stocks of ready grown plants year round so you can add to your garden design ideas in an instant, no matter what the time of year.

(Video) 'No dig' flower borders - Charles Dowding tips


How do I plan my garden layout? ›

A north to south direction will ensure that the garden gets the best sun exposure and air circulation. A garden that runs east to west tends to get too shaded from the crops growing in the preceding row. Grow tall items such as corn or beans, on the north side of the garden to keep them from shading smaller crops.

What is the best border plant? ›

Ornamental grasses such as fountain grass are ideal for planting along borders, paths, or driveways that receive full sun. Dwarf varieties grow to two to three feet tall and three feet wide and feature fine green foliage in the summer that produces pinkish "foxtail" blooms in late summer to early fall.

What is the best size for a garden border? ›

Wider borders are easier to manage, because they give your plants the space to grow and you will not have to keep cutting them back to contain them in the space. It is better to have fewer planting areas, but make them bigger. One metre wide is really a minimum, two metres better.

What plants should you not plant together? ›

Some plants compete for nutrients or space, or they attract damaging insects or fungus. Here are some incompatible plant combinations.
  • Beans and Onions.
  • Tomatoes and Corn.
  • Potatoes and Sunflowers.
  • Asparagus and Garlic.
  • Celery and Carrots.
  • Eggplant and Fennel.
  • Cucumber and Rosemary.
  • Lettuce and Garlic.
Jul 9, 2020

Is there a garden layout app? ›

Home Design 3D Outdoor & Garden

Another good app for design planning, the clue to Home Design 3D is in the name – it lets you plot out the dimensions of your space and build from there, adding everything from sheds to plants and furniture.

What is the basic pattern in garden design? ›

Grid lines drawn at 45 degrees can be used as a guideline to design the garden. Rectangular themes are the most popular and widely used. They are adapted to give a formal look to the garden.

What plant makes you look younger? ›

The Ashitaba plant has anti-aging compounds. Behold, the plant that should be gifted to every person on this planet who worries about old age. The leaves of the Ashitaba plant might be bitter, but ingesting it provides sweet results.

What do you plant in a border for all year color? ›

So, if you can, try to position larger bulbs such as daffodils and alliums where the ageing foliage will gradually become disguised by other leafy, spreading plants – hardy geraniums and ornamental grasses are ideal for this.

What do professional landscapers use for edging? ›

Landscape Edging Using Edging Materials

These materials can include natural stone, cobblestone pavers, wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and brick. Each material gives a different look and has different pros and cons.

What do landscapers use for garden edging? ›

Steel landscape edging is the most common metal garden edging, although you might not find it at local nurseries. Look for it at larger garden centers or at landscape suppliers, which is where most pros get it.

What is the best and easiest landscape edging? ›

Aluminum or steel edging is great for straight-line areas; it won't rust, rot or become brittle. It's installed with stakes and can be molded into shapes and curves.

How many plants should you put in a border? ›

'Try to keep to just six different varieties of plants when you plant a border,' he says. 'This can look very good. ' It's very difficult to stick to six, but the main point is that drifts or clumps with lots of the same kind of plants are more effective than planting just one or two of each plant.

How do you stagger planting? ›

With staggered planting, instead of planting, for instance, all of your radishes at once, you sow a few seeds every week or two over the course of a month. By staggering planting dates, you extend the harvest and keep it coming in at a reasonable pace.

How do you plan a perennial border? ›

Practical considerations
  1. Planting in September or March is ideal, but most container grown plants can be planted any time the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.
  2. Avoid planting slightly tender plants in autumn – wait until March.
  3. Ensure the area to be planted is free of perennial weeds before planting.

What is a good border flower? ›

Catmints, also called Nepeta, are very easy to grow and make excellent border flowers. They come in many shades, including purple, blue, pink, and white. It is a member of the mint family that is technically related to catnip. It has spiky blooms that can grow up to 4 feet in height.

How do you fill a garden border cheaply? ›

This border gap can be filled very cheaply with mulch, such as bark chipping, or even recycled rubber, which looks exactly like bark, and does a great job of keeping your borders looking neat and tidy. Using mulch just around the edge of your borders will keep your costs down, whilst keeping your plants healthy.

Is there a free landscaping app? ›

The iScapes app is by far the best free landscape design app among its peers, having quality graphics, a solid user-interface, and a good plant library.

How can I make my garden look nice without money? ›

These budget garden ideas will get you inspired to transform your space, without splashing the cash.
  1. Repurpose old wooden crates to make stylish shelves. ...
  2. Use old jars as mini planters. ...
  3. Try DIY terracotta candle holders. ...
  4. Create a cool, industrial-style aesthetic with oversized planters. ...
  5. Make an upcycled hanging planter.
Jan 7, 2023

What are the 6 elements of landscape design? ›

For us, those six elements are line, form, sound, fragrances, color, and texture. Lines play a major role in any garden, whether actual or implied. Actual lines are created by a hardscape like paths or walls.

What are the 6 principles of landscape design? ›

You can create a visually pleasing landscape by following these six principles of design.
They are:
  • Balance.
  • Focalization.
  • Simplicity.
  • Rhythm and Line.
  • Proportion.
  • Unity.
Nov 5, 2015

What are the seven 7 principles of landscape design? ›

The principles of landscape design include the elements of unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, emphasis, and sequence as they apply to line, form, texture, and color. These elements are interconnected.

What can I drink to look younger than my age? ›

Drink plenty of water

Another key to younger looking skin is hydration. You should aim for 8 glasses of filtered water each day to keep your skin looking radiant and support optimal health. Dehydration can quickly cause your skin to look dry and dull — emphasizing wrinkles and aging.

How can I look 10 years younger than my age naturally? ›

10 Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, Say Experts
  1. Maintain Good Posture.
  2. Don't Forget to Wear Sunscreen on Your Hands.
  3. Eat Anti-Aging Foods.
  4. Smile More.
  5. Exercise.
  6. Get A Good Night's Sleep.
  7. Take Care of Your Skin.
  8. Eat Lots of Veggies.
Sep 5, 2021

What can make you look 10 years younger? ›

Here, 10 tips to make your skin look 10 years younger.
  • Keep Skin Cells Hydrated. ...
  • Firming Up Skin With Retinol Moisturizer. ...
  • Drink Water. ...
  • Add Water-Rich Foods to Your Diet. ...
  • Protect Against UV Rays. ...
  • Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin C. ...
  • Reduce Inflammation and Stress. ...
  • Don't Sleep in Your Makeup.
May 29, 2020

What is the happiest plant? ›

A study by garden expert David Domoney found that people overwhelmingly favored Lily of the Valley as a mood-boosting plant, mostly because they associated the fragrant blooms with happy memories.

What can you plant in a low maintenance border? ›

Instead, select plants that look after themselves and only need attention once a year, if at all. Use a combination of shrubs, including evergreens such as hebes, osmanthus, sarcococca and viburnums, perhaps with some grasses, then add perennials and ground cover plants to fill any gaps and keep weeds at bay.

How do I create a garden border on a budget? ›

Recycle old bottles to border pathways

Put old glass bottles to good use by incorporating them into your landscaping. Using them as edging is a brilliant free garden idea. Anchored firmly into the ground, they make an eye-catching border for a garden path or flower bed.

How can I edge my garden cheaply? ›

23 Cheap & Amazing Garden Edging Ideas You Can Try
  1. Sharp-Edged Lawn. The straight edges and angular corners of this design are very simple yet give a very strong look. ...
  2. Gray Gravel Border. ...
  3. Curved Stone Path. ...
  4. Budget Brick Edge. ...
  5. Pebble Moat. ...
  6. Contemporary Block Edge. ...
  7. Boulder Border. ...
  8. Concrete Corner.
Dec 22, 2022

Can I make my own garden edging? ›

DIY Tip – 1: Brick Edging

Align the bricks by using string, rope, backfill them and hose off properly to keep the edging firm. Bricks may be laid on their side in a shallow trench, lying flat with the wide side down, or standing upright. Bricks can be used horizontally and vertically to edge your yard.

What is the cheapest landscape edging? ›

Logs are one of the best and the cheapest edging for your garden bed. You can lay them out vertically or horizontally to give a natural and simple look to your garden.

How do I make my yard beautiful on a budget? ›

Your DIY Guide to a Backyard Makeover on a Budget
  1. Build a DIY Deck or Patio. Photo via @seekingalexi. ...
  2. Lay Down an Outdoor Rug. Photo via @alexandmike. ...
  3. Create a Stone Path. Photo via @plaids.and.poppies. ...
  4. Construct a Tree Bench. ...
  5. Set Up a Trellis. ...
  6. Create Shade with a Pergola. ...
  7. Invest in a Fountain. ...
  8. Use a Stock Tank Pool.
Oct 20, 2022

Which landscape edging is best? ›

Best Landscape Edging
  • Best Overall. Dimex Landscape Edging Kit EasyFlex. ...
  • Best Value. Landscape Edging Coil with Stakes Amazon Basics. ...
  • Best Premium Pick. Steel Landscape Edging (5-Pack) EverEdge. ...
  • Best Faux Stone. ...
  • Best Hardwood Edging. ...
  • Extra Deep Edging. ...
  • Best for Trees. ...
  • Best Paver Edging.
Apr 5, 2022

Should flower beds be higher than grass? ›

The best way to make planting beds is to keep the soil at or below the original level. Beside the sidewalk it should be 3 inches below the level of the sidewalk so that mulch can be added. Being lower than the lawn grass also works better than being too high.

How do you make a sleeper border? ›

Cut your sleepers to your required length, which could be random for a rustic look. Then mix up some lean mortar, such as 6:1, to be used as a concrete base and haunching. Place at least a 50mm bed of concrete in the bottom of the trench and start inserting the sleepers, haunching them up as you go.

What is the easiest landscape edging to install? ›

No-dig edging is the easiest to install, since all you typically have to do is pound stakes into the ground. On the other end of the spectrum, stone or brick edging will require using mud mortar and sometimes even cutting the stone with an angle grinder to make the joints fit together.

Is no-dig edging worth it? ›

Pros of no-dig landscape edging:

Usually a good value—there are low-cost options available that look good and make edging easier. Provides a good barrier from lawn pests. There are options available for almost any desired aesthetic—such as timbers, rocks, bricks or even at the more expensive end, poured concrete.


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