12 Low-Maintenance Garden Border Ideas

A front yard garden with a wood-framed hog wire fence and a matching arched gate

Finding Lovely

The garden border can be a variety of things. In Europe a garden border is another word for a flower bed sometimes known as an herbaceous border. In the United States, a garden border is an edge of the flower bed or garden, the one closest to a path, walkway or driveway. A garden border can also sometimes refer to a narrow strip of ground planted as a flower bed or other planting area.

Depending on your climate and growing zones, the size and shape of your yard, and your individual garden style, there are many possibilities for creating a functional yet striking border—no matter how you define it.

Here are our favorite ideas for attractive low-maintenance garden borders, featuring a variety of plants and flowers with considerations for factors like color, texture, bloom time and placement. Whether they feature perennials and/or annuals, they all are low maintenance.

  • 01 of 12

    Color Block Design

    low-maintenace garden border ideas with purple flowers

    @thepsychgarden / Instagram

    Large blocks of color can be a very striking and easily-implemented strategy for the garden border. This simple mix of ajuga and anemones offers a rich burst of violet-blue in this flower bed, right at the border for maximum impact. Also try forget-me-nots which bloom profusely in pale blue in spring (deadhead them to keep them from reseeding too much, but new plants are easy to pull up).

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  • 02 of 12

    Spring Bulb Spectacle

    Tulips and daffodils in multiple garden borders in a large garden

    @thepsychgarden / Instagram

    Designing with spring bulbs offers lots of flexibility for three seasons of blooms and beauty. They're great for the front of the border for a showy garden in early spring, like this one with multiple beds showcasing tulips and daffodils at the edge of their borders. Once your bulbs begin to die back (in April and May) there's room for additional perennials to pop up and fill in. Good choices to plant near bulbs include plants with small root areas and foliage that sits up off the ground, like hostas, day lilies, asters, and ferns.

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  • 03 of 12

    Colorful Foliage

    Silver tansy and euphorbia with chartreuse flowers in a border garden

    @beartrapgarden / Instagram

    Plants with colorful foliage are a great way to have low maintenance color at the front of the border. Artemisias provide silvery tones, heucheras provide a wonderful range of colors, euphorbias come in a range of colors and textures, and lower-growing sedums also have a range of foliage colors in blues, greens, greys, and purples. Here we see silver tansy (Tanacetum haradjanii) and Euphorbia myrsinites melding their striking colors of blue-grey and chartreuse together. Annuals with colorful foliage include coleus and caladiums.

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  • 04 of 12

    Colorful Shade Border

    Shade garden with burgundy heuchera and variegated euonymus

    @thepsychgarden / Instagram

    The shade garden need not be barren of color. The border of this circular shade garden catches the eye with vivid clumps of burgundy heuchera, variegated euonymus, and airy light green ferns.

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  • 05 of 12

    Mediterranean Style

    Clumps of lavender in pale purple and white long border paths in a large garden

    @edenrowegardens / Instagram

    In the temperate climate of southern Europe, herbs have the perfect growing environment. if you have sandy, loamy soil, plentiful sun, and a growing zone on the warmer side, consider some fragrant culinary herbs for your border. Oregano, thyme, rosemary, savory, tarragon, lavender and many other useful herbs grow as perennials in the right conditions. These lavender gardens in Spain create a perfumed paradise for visitors, with the huge plants overflowing into the walkways.

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  • 06 of 12

    Tall But Airy

    White anemone flowers in gren border with grasses and shrubs

    @themayflygarden / Instagram

    Usually one sees shorter plants at the front of the border, but tall ones can work too. The key is to choose plants with a small crown and a light airy form, allowing for a view of the plants behind them. This might include agapanthus, alliums, camassia, fairy lilies (a bulb that comes up in early autumn), heucheras, flax, anchusa ('Dropmore'), delphiniums, rose campion, anemones (pictured above), and globe thistles. Annual cosmos are also a tall flower with feathery stems and delicate blooms.

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  • 07 of 12

    Low Hedges

    boxwood hedge garden border

    @themayflygarden / Instagram

    This lush garden in Sweden has paths connecting one area to another. The borders along this path have short, chunky boxwood hedges clipped to stay square and neat. The angular shape complements the round and organic shapes found throughout the garden.

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  • 08 of 12

    Late Season Color

    purple and yellow garden border idea

    @gardenfromscratch / Instagram

    Keep the show going with perennials that flower late in the season. Perennial mums are a reliable source of vivid color: order them from a reliable nursery in the spring for blooms in the fall, and the plants will increase in size each year. The striking contrast of these yellow zinnias and purple mums is a showstopper for the autumn border.

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  • 09 of 12

    Drought-Tolerant Border Plants

    drought tolerant garden border

    @beartrapgarden / Instagram

    If you're in a dry or desert climate, or simply want a more drought-tolerant border, there's a large variety to choose from. Euphorbias and succulents like creeping sedums or hens and chicks are an easy way to have a lush, low maintenance border. These plants spread quickly but not aggressively and there are many flowering varieties. In this California garden, drought-tolerant plants including yarrow, euphorbia and nepeta (flowering catmint) are a perfect choice for times of inconsistent rainfall.

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  • 10 of 12

    Creeping and Meandering

    Bright purple dianthus in a garden border

    @gardenfromscratch / Instagram

    Creeping plants like euphorbia, low-spreading sedums, dianthus (especially spreading varieties like 'Firewitch'), thread-leaf coreopsis, or short asters (like 'Wood's Blue') can spill over the border edge in a fetching way, creating an organic looking design. Keep blooming perennials looking neat by deadheading which also encourages more blooms: this dianthus will put out a second or even third round of blooms after spent flowers are trimmed off.

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  • 11 of 12

    Uplifting Miniatures

    Dwarf irises in gravel flower bed with creeping perennials

    @beartrapgarden / Instagram

    Many perennials have low-growing, dwarf or miniature versions, including irises (pictured are 'Bright Blue Eyes'), columbines, asters, day lilies, sedums and even roses. Choosing these shorter plants allows for more possibilities for three seasons of blooming perennials at the front of the border.

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  • 12 of 12

    Green Borders

    Shady garden border ideas

    @gardenfromscratch / Instagram

    This shady border features a variety of plants with vibrant green foliage, showcasing beautiful shapes and textures, including variegated irises, heuchera, hosta, and pulmonaria. Note the color variations include not just shades of green but stripes, spots, edges and centers. These plants also produce colorful flowers.