Whether you’re new to gardening or you’ve developed green thumbs over years of honing the craft, garden borders are a great way to get stuck into the environment and create something unique.
Garden bordering is one of the most approachable and effective ways to section your garden. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a large amount of space to achieve incredible results.
Keep reading to learn 10 garden border ideas that will inspire your next landscaping project!
Inspirational garden border ideas
The beauty of having a garden is the freedom to do what you want with it. Whether you require a private suntrap, a place for flowers to blossom, or somewhere to grow your own wonky veg - creating borders in your garden is a great way to divide your space.
There are tonnes of ideas on how to create a garden border, but you might be trumped as to which one is best for your garden. Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional landscaper to achieve a brilliant border, you just need the know-how to make a few crafty tweaks.
Without further ado, let's get into some of the best ways to create a garden border and bring your outdoor space to life in a few simple steps.
1. Go bold with unconventional shapes
Sawn Versuro® border in Caramel Cream
When deciding how to section up your garden, it is important to consider the shape you want. From an S-shape to square, linear or wavy, the shape of your garden border should be calculated against the size and space of your outdoor area.
Similar to interior decorating, look at the size of your garden to determine what might be possible. For example, if you have a rectangular garden, you may want to add some curvature, and likewise, if your garden is curvy, you might want to add some uniformity to it.
Determine where your garden border will begin and end, how long it will be, and how deep: with length, consider the part of your site it will be bordering, and with depth, the edge of the border to the end of the yard, for example, linear bordering.
Generally, a border can be anything from 30cm to 1m in depth, and the length depends entirely on the size of your garden. Ensuring the border is long and deep enough to allow plantlife to flourish is important.
2. Embrace seasonal change
Hewnstone Edging in Light Buff
Whilst there is no time like the present, most gardening projects are best avoided in the winter. This is due to heavy frost and unsavoury temperatures. Even though most plants will blossom in the spring, you can create a border that looks luscious all year round.
When deciding what to plant, don’t be afraid to be bold, but remember that certain plants won’t survive every season. Fill out your border with an array of perennials such as alliums, lavender, and clematis. And, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, why not consider adding hardy plants like geraniums? Not only will they add colour, but certain geraniums can withstand the frost and last through winter.
Come springtime, you’ll want to fill the space with dashes of colour from roses, dahlias, and foliage. Most seed-sowing starts this time of year, so if you’re looking to grow some easy veg like lettuce, tomatoes or kale, consider leaving space for these plants to flourish.
If you want to keep your garden borders looking fresh all year round, consider planting some evergreen shrubs or trees which will keep their leaves in the winter months.
3. Garden borders inspired by colour and contrast
Drivesys® Original Cobble in Iron Grey and Canvas
Whatever your personal style, gardening is a hobby that doesn’t need firm instructions, just guidance. So get creative! You may wish to have colourful flowers that run around the edge of the border, dotted around, or collected in the centre as the main focal point. There really are no rules.
If you’re not keen on having bright colours, then consider changing the aesthetic of the backdrop. For example, if your border is against a fence, you could paint the fence a darker shade to allow for the natural green to stand out. If you’re not keen on the idea of painting your fence, consider attaching a piece of wood, perhaps a pallet, to it and painting directly on that.
4. Stones, paving and pebbles
Sawn Versuro® border in Antique Silver
Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to gardening, there’s no one size fits all. That’s why when creating a garden border, it’s important to look around and see how you can utilise other materials.
The use of non-traditional materials like gravel, block pavers or edging stones can create a stunning finish that will be sure to add a real sense of elegance to your whole outdoor space. Moreover, stones and paving are great low-maintenance additions to gardens of all types and sizes, needing very little upkeep as the seasons change.
5. Low-maintenance garden border ideas
Driveline® 4 in 1 Kerb in Brindle
As previously mentioned, stones and paving are a great low-maintenance addition to any outdoor space. So, keep these in mind when designing your garden border.
Another method to ensure little upkeep is to plant only what you can manage. If you’re at home a lot and have time to prune each flower, then go wild. However, if you’re away a lot consider planting small trees, shrubs and foliage. These will keep some of their leaves throughout the seasons and require little attention from the gardener.
Finally, remember to embrace negative space: this means not cramming as much as you can in the border. By spacing things out, you are allowing them to flourish without fighting for nutrients from the soil. It’s important to remember the better your soil foundation, the better your chances are of a low-maintenance project. Nurture the soil with compost, as it will play host to all the outdoor life you introduce it to.
6. Grassy borders
Ardara Porcelain Paving in Ash
Grass is the mightiest vegetation of them all, and it adds real drama to the design of gardening borders because of its movement. The way it responds and acts throughout hours of sunshine or periods of cold, wet weather adds to its uniqueness.
The interaction of plants with each other, and especially their contrasting qualities, are some of the highlights and rewards one gains from designing and creating a green border.
Don't be afraid to experiment with significantly higher grasses, either. Much bigger grass are light, whimsical, and quite transparent. The foliage of grass is usually lower than the actual seed heads, which are higher, not forgetting the movement that comes with taller grasses.
7. Experiment with height
Saxon® in Buff
When exploring your garden border ideas, you can add interest by experimenting with bulbs, perennials, and snake-inspired grasses. In particular, the Eryngium Yuccifolium (also known as Rattlesnake Master) is drought tolerant and beautiful while in bloom.
Plants look best if they are 1/3 shorter or taller than their neighbours, but never more than 50%. If you choose evergreen options, you get the benefit of a good rosette and crown of foliage emerging in the springtime.
Place the long grasses at the back and when creating borders, limit the complement of grass to no more than 1/3rd of the variety and combination you use.
8. Ornamental and exotic grasses
Arrento® Encore in Platinum
Ornamental grasses offer you a variety of green charm, whilst being extremely low maintenance and mostly all evergreen. These include Sage grass, Miscanthus Sinensis, Karl Foerster, lavender, pampas grass, reed grass, fountain grass, and feather reeds, with varying green colour shades to admire. However, beware not to attract misinformed neighbours by planting pampas grass in your front garden.
Another grass to consider for your garden border is Pennisetum. What makes this species a winner is its height, as the foliage is only about 80 or 90 centimetres, which still allows light through and doesn’t dominate the space.
9. Flowering borders
Drivesett® 4 in 1 Kerb in Pennant Grey
Flowers are one of the best ways to bring an instant pop of colour and energy into your garden and, fortunately for anyone looking to update their garden’s borders, there is a wide variety of species to choose from!
If you’re looking to add an element of pizzazz to your garden border, here are some suggestions that are not only easy to pick up and easy to maintain but are also visually striking.
Perennials: Perennials come in all shapes, shades and sizes and are wonderful for low-maintanence garden border designs because they last for years, given the right attention.
Hylotelephium (formerly sedum) 'Maturana': This is a tried and tested plant and works in many planting combinations. It is an absolute bee magnet with large pink and white coloured flowers, and the Geranium' Dilys' has a stunning punching, potent purple floral colour.
Eryngium Agavifolium: Can be purchased for under £10 and is beautiful in bloom. The popping bright orange and yellow colour of the Persicaria' Indian Summer' will stand out in any outdoor space.
Ricinus: Also known as the "New Zealand Purple", this would make a phenomenal addition to any design with its palm-like leaves, seed pods, and tiny red flowers.
Tempo® Original in Charcoal
Patience is a virtue, and that’s especially true with horticulture.
From the first seed to the first flower, you can only truly appreciate the hard work you’ve put into your border once you’ve seen it throughout each season. Some plants may flower annually, whereas others will be available to enjoy all year round.
If you can’t wait until then why not take on a DIY project in the meantime to keep your hands busy. Lastly, if you love the idea of bordering, then check out our guide to creating zones in your garden for more inspiration.
Our top tips for creating garden borders
Your garden is not only a home for flowers, fertile soil and a green lawn. Think of all the wildlife that might visit over the seasons. Before you get started, here are some of our top tips:
Don't rush your design
Take time to think about what you want to achieve before getting started. Consider the materials you want to use, the colours you want to incorporate, and the amount of maintenance you’re prepared to do once it’s finished.
Having a clear plan in place will make achieving what you’ve envisioned much easier.
Do your research
Research the optimum living conditions for the plants you want in your borders. Some will need more sunlight than others, whilst certain species will thrive in different types of soil.
Making sure that your garden borders can provide these conditions will help to ensure that any flowers, shrubs, and trees can thrive once planted.
Maintain your garden
Stay on top of any weeding to prevent your plants from being overpowered by invasive species. Whilst some weeds may help to enrich and improve the quality of the soil by binding it together, others may take valuable nutrients from the plants you’ve chosen for your garden.
Cutting weeds back periodically is the best way to keep them under control, or consider using weed killers if they are particularly troublesome.
How do you fill a garden border cheaply?
Home DIY stores, garden centres, and nurseries often have price cuts and bargain buying on certain plants, depending on the season and time of year. The best time to grab yourself deal is after the summer months, so keep an eye out in local stores from September onwards.
It’s also a good idea to think of your garden borders as an investment that, if done properly, will add real value to your home for years to come. Spending a little more on getting the best quality materials will pay dividends in the future.
How can I make my garden borders look good?
Gardens look best when they are designed to complement your home’s exterior and provide outdoor living spaces to enrich your family’s life. Use varying materials, from stones, pebbles, wood, tiles, metal, and more to create a landscaping concept that reflects your personality and requirements.
What can you use as a border in your garden?
A garden border can be designed and built using a huge variety of different things - the only real limit is your imagination! Use the tips and tricks listed in this article for ideas on where to start and guidance on what features will work particularly well together.