How to plant garden borders
When I acquired my first house, I also acquired my first ever garden and what a challenge it became. This garden had been left neglected for several years, I never knew Bindweed could grow to the top of trees!
And that’s where the problems started, you see I knew about plants, but not about how to plant a garden. It wasn’t really a question of how to plant garden borders, it was more a question of how do I even begin! There are simply thousands of plants to choose.
So I did what the most people do, and started buying gardening books and reading magazines to try and form a plan. The trouble was that none of the gardens or the designs in these books were suitable for my garden. Or should I really say, the time I had available to garden or the budget I had to create one. Every garden looked like a show garden, but that was not what I needed.
It’s all about priorities.
It turns out, designing a garden, planting a border or choosing a garden style is all about priorietes. There are simply too many options so the only way to form any sort of planting plan is to narrow those options down with your list of garden and planting priorities.
This website has lots of advice aimed at beginner gardeners who are looking to start a garden from scratch or remodel an existing one. The planting advice aims to demystify garden design and border planning and making the design principles easy to understand.
There are different types of priority though, some you have to work with, some need working around and some are personal choices.
Work with your weather
Every garden is unique, it has it’s own microclimate caused by the type of soil, the trees and buildings that surround the garden. It’s aspect; whether the garden is predominantly in the shade or in the sunshine. Then there are the existing garden plants, these too create their own little microclimates, shading other plants, dropping leaves or these might be plants that need and use more water than their neighbours.
Then these is the macroclimate to consider, how the weather impacts the garden. It could be the garden is exposed and windswept, or it is in a frost hollow. Maybe the soil cannot drain the rainfall quickly, and the ground is susceptible to waterlogging. How much it rains, how hard it rains and how often it rains all affect the priorities of your planting decisions.
Why, well, think of it like this. If the plants used are happy with the macro and micro climate, they will grow at their natural speed and in their natural shape, because the plant has all it needs to grow well, it is able to withstand marauding pests more easily, it has not been weakened. If it can do ‘it’s own thing’ all by itself, it means you don’t have to intervene. It is the best way to create a low maintenance garden!
Planning a garden border
The shape and size of some garden borders is predetermined, these are sited next to driveways or alongside an existing path. This is can also be a problem, often these borders are long and narrow, making creating an impactful planting scheme hard to achieve; as there is only enough space for planting in a straight line.
How should you plant a trellis for example, what will grow well in a border by the house, how can you create a border with year round interest? Fortunately we have created a number of predesigned border plans to help you, visit the designs shop and have a browse.
Border planting styles
This is often the most trick part of planting a garden border, inexperienced gardeners have to see into the future and plan how will it look in 5 years time. Not an easy task if you aren’t a plant expert. It is often easier to play it safe and copy what the neighbours have planted, the trouble is, it might not deliver what you need the garden to deliver.
So this is where your choices come in, if you can narrow down the list of priorities to work from, it makes choosing plants for the garden easier.
For example, the list might be as follows:
- Non poisonous for dogs
- No thorns, pokey bits or skin irratants
- No orange or pink flowers
- Nothing that requires winter protection
- Every flower must be scented
So now, it is easier to search for plants that fit this list, it narrows down the choices available
It creates a tick box list for both the essential elements (i.e right plant right place) and then the desirable elements (no thorns!).
Border shapes and sizes
The most important garden design tip I can give you regarding planning and planting a garden border is this:
Plants are brilliant at hiding ugly things, awkward shaped spaces or unusable areas. There is a plant for every growing condition your garden will have, so the design must suit your needs first and the plants just add the mood after.
If the garden has raised borders or hard landscaped areas, the plants used determine the mood. White rendered walls don’t make a Mediterranean garden, the plants do.
Garden planting advice
Gardens are living breathing places, full of insect life, birds, bats, bees and moths. The plants themselves follow the seasons, growing ,flowering and dying back. Some plants just die! So the garden is forever evolving, weeds and plants you don’t want appear in all sorts of places in the garden. The border you lovingly planted a few years ago, now is overgrown cluttered and no longer looks nice. How do you get things back to where they were. The trellis is straining under the weight of an overgrown climber.
This is the ‘what if’ section.
- What if the plants look sick,
- What are the best flowers for bees
- Should you have hanging baskets
- What to do about overgrown trees
- How can you create a wildlife friendly garden
- Are bedding plants worth the money
- How can the soil be made better
- How should you buy plants for the garden
- Should the same plants get used in the front and back garden
- Whats the best way to get a low maintenance border
- How do you site plants in a border