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.
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Color Block Design
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).Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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Spring Bulb Spectacle
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.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Colorful Shade Border
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.
Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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Tall But Airy
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.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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Late Season Color
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.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Drought-Tolerant Border Plants
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.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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Creeping and Meandering
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.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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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.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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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.