Flower Border Ideas

  • 01 of 14

    Borders to Make Your Landscape Sizzle

    Tulips and phlox
    David Beaulieu

    How are your flower borders looking these days? Are they an exciting component of your landscaping? When you pass by them on the way to your mailbox, do they put a smile on your face? They should. If they do not, then you're in need of some ideas to jazz up these areas that are so critical to the overall appearance of your yard.


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  • 02 of 14

    Border for Spring: Grape Hyacinths and Yellow Alyssum

    Grape hyacinths look great in a border with yellow alyssum, as this photo reveals.
    David Beaulieu

    Yellow alyssum, like creeping phlox, is often used as a flowering ground cover plant. It contrasts strikingly with grape hyacinths not only in color but also in another respect: it is a bad-smelling flower (whereas grape hyacinths are fragrant flowers). But if you don't need flowers for their fragrance, grape hyacinth will surely wow you with its color. 

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  • 03 of 14

    Summer Border: Patriotic Combos for American Gardeners

    Red geraniums, white alyssum and blue ageratum for a patriotic border for July 4.
    David Beaulieu

    For American gardeners, a popular idea is to create a summer flower border using red, white, and blue flowers. Such patriotic displays are usually composed, at least in part, of annual flowers. Annuals are inexpensive bedding plants, allowing you to plant an impressive display without breaking the bank. If you want all of the plants to be in bloom at the same time (such as around July 4th), but sure to choose plants that will bloom in unison.

    In this patriotic border, the red color is achieved with geraniums, the white with annual alyssum, and the blue with blue ageratum, but one could just as easily use:

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  • 04 of 14

    Fall Border: Autumn Joy Sedum

    A flower border with 'Autumn Joy' sedum. This is a good planting for fall.
    David Beaulieu

    Autumn Joy sedum is a late-bloomer that is ideal for fall displays. A long-blooming perennial, it assures you continuous garden color from late summer right through to the first hard frost.

    In this garden, the Autumn Joy sedum is complemented by 'Silver Dust' dusty miller, among other plants. Dusty miller is a common choice where silver foliage is called for. The brightness of its foliage leavens a scheme that is otherwise dominated by the dusky-pink tones of the Autumn Joy.

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  • 05 of 14

    Foliage for Times Between Blooming Periods

    Plant life
    David Beaulieu

    It's not always "prime time" for a particular flower border. For four-season interest in the landscape, the key is to plan a flower border with just as much of an eye for foliage as for flowers. In this garden, 'Purple Fountain' beech tree provides a background to the golden type of creeping jenny ground cover in the foreground. This flower border also exhibits a pleasing variation in texture. For example, while the creeping jenny has leaves with a fine texture, the texture of the hosta plants just behind them is considerably coarser.

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  • 06 of 14

    The Perfect Flower Garden Border

    A flower border with lots of interest. It even has garden art.
    David Beaulieu

    This flower garden border pulls out all the stops with multiple components to keep the viewer interested. In addition to perennials, it exhibits:

    The annuals (marigolds) brighten the composition and afford long-lasting color for little money. Pachysandra is a foliage plant; this groundcover furnishes a nice, solid-green background and keeps this flower garden border from looking too busy. Meanwhile, the evergreen shrubs offer a different plant form (they're globe-shaped) from the rest of the vegetation.

    But the softscape only begins to tell the story of this flower garden border. Hardscape nicely complements the plantings. The yard art serves as a focal point, while the fence breaks up the planting into more easily digestible segments. Finally, notice the effect of the cobblestone driveway pavers lined up along the edge. One of the functions of garden edging or lawn edging is to frame a display area. The cobblestone achieves that and more here. Its appearance is rustic enough to retain an informality consonant with its flower garden border.

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  • 07 of 14

    Ornamental Grass in Flower Borders

    A flower border with ornamental grass. The latter brings up eye level.
    David Beaulieu

    Ornamental grasses can play a role in flower beds, too. The tall or medium-sized types, in fact, can play several roles, including:

    • Elevating the viewer's eye level
    • Furnishing variation in plant form
    • Rustling in the breeze (a pleasant sound)
    • Swaying rhythmically when blown by a wind

    Types of ornamental grass that are tall to intermediate in height, and therefore work well in flower beds without overwhelming them include maiden grasszebra grass, and purple fountain grass.

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  • 08 of 14

    A Border Focused on Foliage, Form, and Texture

    Flower border with different textures of plants
    David Beaulieu

    Different textures and plant forms can spice up a flower border considerably. The two bright red flowers in this garden are "love-lies-bleeding" and coleus. Coleus is an annual foliage plant that is indispensable for gardeners looking to experiment with color combinations in planting beds. It's a classic shade plant, although many types do just fine in bright sunlight, too, as long as they receive sufficient water. 

    To the right of the love-lies-bleeding and the red coleus, the plants with the airy foliage are cosmos, with leaves that contrast nicely with everything else in the flower border. 

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  • 09 of 14

    Castor Bean Plant in a Flower Border

    Flower border with castor bean plant (picture). The latter offers foliage value.
    David Beaulieu

    The spectacular plant in the middle of this flower border with red stems and deep burgundy leaves is castor bean plant. This is a great example of how much a foliage plant can do to spice up a planting.

    This type of castor bean plant has such dark leaves that it can be categorized as one of the so-called "black plants." As such, it's wonderful for color contrasts with brighter plants. However, castor bean plants are toxic, so they may not be the best plant to have growing in your yard if children will be playing there. 

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  • 10 of 14

    Maintaining Scale With Flower Borders

    A large flower border in scale with its large house.
    David Beaulieu

    This large flower border with black-eyed Susans helps illustrate the principle of proper scale. If you can imagine a much smaller flower border in front of this home, you can see how it would be swallowed up by its surroundings. A house and landscape of this size require a flower border sized to match.

    The same principle works the other way around. Smaller trees for one-story homes are generally more appropriate, aesthetically speaking, for a landscape around a small home or cabin.

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  • 11 of 14

    Layering Flower Borders

    Layered flower borders look neater. Plus the tall plants don't shade the small ones.
    David Beaulieu

    Layered flower borders are composed of rows (or "ranks" as the British say). A layered perennial planting features tall perennials in the back row and short perennials up front, with those that are medium-sized growing in between. Designers sometimes stray from this regimen for effect, as when a relatively tall plant is installed in the front row to make a strong statement.

    From a practical standpoint, layering ensures that the shortest plants are not deprived of sufficient sunlight. You may also layer for aesthetic reasons, so that plants are arranged in the most pleasing composition, especially from the primary viewing angle. 

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  • 12 of 14

    Petunia Flower Borders

    A flower border of just petunias.
    David Beaulieu

    If you think your plantings always have to be complex to make a big splash, think again! This petunia flower border requires no help from other types of plants to dazzle the onlooker with magnificent color. The border also employs some clever tricks to suit its urban location: 

    • The plants at ground level are growing in containers, although the containers are so well hidden that, at first glance, you might think they're growing right in the ground.
    • Varying the color of the petunias (there are three colors) provides more interest than using one solid color would.
    • The ground display is supplemented by window boxes.
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  • 13 of 14

    Catmint and Tubs of Petunias

    Pots used here in conjunction with the flower border, adding more color.
    David Beaulieu

    Catmint flower borders are pretty, but they can lack pizazz if left on their own. Here, catmint gets some help from tubs of petunias. In this case, the containers are not disguised, and rightly so, since the ceramic tubs are gorgeous.

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  • 14 of 14

    Begonias Used as Edging Plants

    Begonias used to edge a border. The flowers are red and white.
    Begonia flowers used to form an edge around a shrub bed. David Beaulieu

    Flower borders sometimes take the form of flowering edging plants. Here, wax begonias (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum) create a colorful ring of the alternating red and white flowers around a shrub bed.