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Ideas for plants along borders and edges

Which flowers to plant along edges

Wooden, metal, or concrete edges give way to plants. These low, compact edging plants line up to form boundaries through your landscaping efforts.

For any type of exposure, this selection of edge plants will excel as a garden border!

Also related: structuring a mixed border

What’s a garden border?

What is a borderBorders (or edges, it’s the same thing) define a flowerbed or a pathway. They separate it from the rest of the garden. This boundary keeps grass and other material from encroaching on landscaping.

  • Your flower bed stays free from alleyway gravel.
  • As for the pathway, borders keep plants from taking it over.

Maintenance becomes easier, and it looks stylish, too!

Which plants to choose?

For plants to serve their border purpose effectively, they need to meet certain criteria. Evergreen foliage ensures they structure your flowerbed all year round. Plants with a dense and compact stature will double as a short physical barrier.

Height depends on your garden’s needs. If you’re sporting small perennials up front, best go for plants no taller than 12 inches (30cm). On the flip side, if your green ensemble has shrubs, grasses, and tall perennials, a 20-inch (50cm) high border will do great.

Sun-loving borders

Arabis caucasia:

  • Arabis as an edge flowerVariety: Arabis caucasia
  • Flowering period: March to May
  • Highlights: Lovely green leaves that form a cushion blanketed by simple white flowers. Sounds cozy, doesn’t it?
  • Exposure: sun, partial shade
  • Soil: well-draining, even on the dry or poor side
  • Cherry on top? Hardy down to 5°F (-15°C). No maintenance needed.


  • Variety: Ficinia truncata ‘Ice Crystal’
  • Flowering period: June
  • Highlights: Dark green linear leaves edged in white, creating a neat contrast
  • Exposure: sun (Semi-hardy at 14°F (-10°C))
  • Soil: moist yet well-draining, neutral to limestone
  • Cherry on top? Its decorative clumps shine all year, adding a touch of originality to your flowerbed

Shade edging


  • Ophiopogon edgeVariety: Ophiopogon japonicus
  • Blooming period: July to August
  • Main appeal: its tufted dark to black foliage
  • Exposure: shade, partial shade
  • Soil: acidic, moist, and rich
  • Cherry on top? No maintenance required.


  • Fescue edgeVariety: Heuchera
  • Blooming period: between May and July
  • Main appeal: its round, jagged foliage in a color palette ranging from green to purple, red, orange, and yellow. Nature’s paintbrush at its best!
  • Exposure: shade, partial shade
  • Soil: rich, moist yet well-draining
  • Cherry on top? Hardy heucheras can withstand temperatures down to -4°F (-20°C) depending on the species.

Colorful edging

Blue fescue:

  • Variety: Festuca glauca
  • Blooming period: June to July
  • Main appeal: its blue-tinted foliage. A touch of cool in the heat of summer.
  • Exposure: sun
  • Soil: well-draining and light
  • Cherry on top? Forms a perfect rounded cushion for edging.

Lemon thyme:

  • Variety: Thymus citriodorus
  • Blooming period: June to August
  • Main appeal: this thyme variety stands approximately 6 inches (15cm) high and showcases small golden oval leaves
  • Exposure: sun
  • Soil: neutral to limey, well-draining, and can handle dry and even poor conditions
  • Cherry on top? Its leaves pack a lemony scent and taste.

Materials for borders

Edges with flowers and plantsTired of plants for your borders? Opt for natural materials you find on nature walks.

How about choosing a tree with striking bark, like birch?

  • Split a branch into pieces of equal height.
  • Next, simply plant them around your garden bed, and voilà! A border appears.

Some get creative and use colorful glass bottles. Why not repurpose a pallet into a sharp wooden border? Pavers, pebbles, metal strips, corten steel… Numerous solutions exist to mix plants and materials.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Jean Jones, Lynn Wohlers, Kim & Forest Starr; dreamstime: David Prahl; Pixabay: an anonymous photographer, garten-gg, Hans Braxmeier
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