22 Garden Border and Edging Ideas

22 Garden Border and Edging Ideas

Garden borders and edging serve several purposes in your landscape. The first is a clean edge that defines each space and separates it from the next. For instance, your landscaped front garden is usually composed of trees and shrubs that complement your home’s design and style. There may also be flowers incorporated into the front garden as well. 

Where the garden ends and the lawn starts, without a well-defined border, will make the transition look messy, be difficult to maintain and it won’t be long before the lawn is creeping into the garden. Trees and shrubs can also pose a challenge. Trees are easily damaged by a string trimmer when it hits the tender bark of young trees. Keeping your shrubbery and small orchard of fruit trees neat and well-groomed is much easier if they are surrounded by mulch and a border. That’s why while achieving a nice clean edge may be a small investment in time and money, it's worth it. Once completed, you will save time every mowing session and the finished results will give your landscape a professionally groomed appearance.

There are lots of materials that can be used to edge your gardens. Some have little to no cost at all, including some that take advantage of repurposed materials. Others will fall into a range from inexpensive to high-end costly materials. Start by deciding what look you want to achieve and what your budget is. 

planting within garden border

You may want to design an elegant, more formal look to your home and landscape. A rustic style may be more appropriate if you live in a farmhouse style home with a cottage garden in front and a vegetable garden and apple trees in the back. 

Borders are generally gently curved for a soft look, but if your home is a very lineal modern design, a curved border may look inappropriate. By continuing the modern straight lines of the building, you will complement your home

22 Garden Border and Edging Ideas

There are lots of border and edging ideas that will be great choices for your gardens. You can create a border with plants or with pre-designed edging borders — or try a little of both.  Here are just a few ideas, including:

Plant Borders

1. Boxwood — Boxwood is an evergreen shrub that is the classic plant used in borders. Boxwood can be grown in its natural form, but it is often highly trimmed and shaped for a much more formal look.

2. Miniature Roses — Have you always wanted to grow roses but were afraid? These miniature roses are very low maintenance and are short enough to be used as a colorful border plant that will come back year after year. Miniature roses come in all the colors that their larger rose cousins have.

annual flower alyssum

3. Alyssum — This is an easy to grow annual flower that makes a perfect border plant. Growing in a mounded shape, this plant is covered in white flowers. It also is available in a pink or purple flower. 

The plant stays low, about six inches tall, so won’t block the view of taller plants behind it. Make sure to plant your alyssum in full sun to partial shade.

4. Lucerne Blue Eyed Grass — If blue is a color you love, this is the plant for you. A returning perennial, the plant has straight sword-like foliage that grows up and out about eight to 10 inches. Then, in late spring, the bright blue flowers appear with bright yellow star centers.

The flowers of the Lucerne Blue Eyed Grass will bloom all summer. This beautiful plant is Thoreau’s favorite, and it will make a stunning border for any garden.

5. Impatiens — Impatiens are an annual flower that will be covered in flowers from the beginning of summer until first frost. They are available in a multitude of colors from white to pinks and salmon to lavender, red and bicolored flowers. 

The best feature is this plant likes the shade and can be the perfect plant to bring lots of color to your shaded garden.

6. Azalea ‘Hilda Niblett’ — If you prefer to border your garden bed with a shrub, this azalea may be the perfect choice. This azalea will only be about 12 inches tall but covered in blooms. 

The Azalea “Hilda Niblett” flowers are prized as one of the few azaleas with the unusual peach and white flowers. This shrub is evergreen so it will be an attractive border plant year-round.

annas magic ball thuja

7. Thuja ‘Anna’s Magic Ball’ — If you want a small 12-inch-tall globe evergreen, this is the perfect plant for your border. 

These plants are native to North America and need very little care other than watering in high heat or drought conditions. Thuja will tolerate partial shade, and the chartreuse color is maintained through the winter months. 

8. Weigela My Monet® — This shrub is prized for its yellow foliage that turns red in the fall. Its trumpet-shaped flowers make it the perfect plant for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. 

The Weigela My Monet® shrubs do well in partial shade and, at just 15 inches tall, they are a perfect understory plant for your tall trees and shrubs.

9. Heuchera — Heuchera, or Coral Bells, has been a favorite perennial plant for gardeners everywhere. Even better, it seems like there are new varieties of this plant that come out every year. Heuchera now comes in colors that range from pink to almost black magenta, lime green, bicolors and purples. 

The plant itself is very low growing and the small bell-shaped flowers from which it gets its common name are held above the plant on long, fine stems.

10. Coreopsis — Coreopsis is a great perennial plant to use as a border plant. This plant grows to about 12 inches tall and comes in a variety of colors. Its colors range from white to yellow to pinks and maroon, depending on the variety you choose. 

If planted in a sunny location, you will be rewarded with daisy shaped flowers from late spring to late fall. The foliage provides a nice background of grass-like leaves.

Plant Your Favorite Fruit Trees Today

Stone, Metal or Wood Borders

If you would rather have a hardscape border or even a combination of both plants and hardscape, here are a few ideas, including:

brick interlocking pavers

11. Brick Interlocking Pavers — Just lay these pavers on the ground to outline the garden bed. Because they are raised above the level of the lawn, it will be easy to use a string trimmer without damaging the plants in the bed.

If you prefer, you can sink the pavers so the top surface is even with the ground. There are also pavers made to form a low garden wall that surrounds your garden beds.

12. Edging with White Rocks — Outline the garden bed with a single row of these large white rocks or make it wider with two or more rows. Use a dark mulch to give a sharp contrast to the white rock edge for a more dramatic result.

13. Edging with River Stones — Separate your pool deck or cement patio from the lawn by placing plastic edging about a foot away from the patio. Then, fill the space with river stones. 

These stones come as a mix of colors or all one solid color to contrast with the patio color. River stones can be white, gray or black.

14. Edging with Natural Rocks — The rocks and stones mentioned earlier are smooth and uniform in color. Natural rocks are rough and have irregular shapes. They also have more variation in colors. 

You might be able to get these for free if you live in a rocky area. The same rocks you dig out of the garden soil can also be put to use as an edging.

15. Square Bricks — The advantage of square bricks is they are easy to use on curves. A rectangular brick will work if your curved line is gentle, but if you want a deeper curve, the square brick is much easier.

16. Plastic Edging — Simply use your shovel blade to cut a deep line to form the pattern of your edge and slip the plastic edging in. The top of the edging should be lowered into the ground so just the top of it shows.  

This way, the lawn won’t grow over it but the lawn mower won’t hit it. This type of edging will maintain the clean edge but won’t detract or compete with the plants in the garden.

17. Metal Edging — This edging works like the plastic edge; however, more of the metal is above the ground to allow it to show. Use a copper or other decorative metal edging and let it bring color to the garden. This works particularly well as the edging for an evergreen shrub garden, where the metal will intentionally stand out.

reclaimed brick edging options

18. Reclaimed Bricks — Bricks can be an effective border and give you so many options. The bricks can be laid flat so that the top surface is even with the ground, or you can lay them on the ground so the whole brick is exposed. Lay them parallel with the edge so they make a thinner edge. 

Laying the bricks perpendicular to the edge will give your edge a wider border but you will need substantially more bricks. The bricks can be buried on end and a pattern formed by varying the depth of each brick or you can angle the brick on end at a 45- to 60-degree angle to form a zigzag look. 

19. Reclaimed Wood Boards — If you prefer a more casual primitive look, use reclaimed painted boards. Cut them to even short lengths and just stick the ends into the soil to hold them in place. For some, the more colors, the better. If you don’t feel comfortable having a fence that is quite that unique, paint all the boards with a uniform color.

20. Mini-Fencing — If you like an actual fence to enclose your gardens, there is short mini-fencing available for purchase. You could choose a short fence that replicates a picket fence but is sized down to about 12-18 inches tall. 

There are also decorative metal fencing panels available. Match the fence to the style of garden it will border.

21.PVC Stakes — This edge looks like PVC pipes standing on end. There is a stake molded into the edging which will be inserted into the ground to secure it in place. Each “pipe” has a sealed top. This product is not only very visually interesting, but the biggest benefit is that it is paintable in whatever color you prefer.

22. Old Natural Logs — This is a more rustic look but an effective way to edge your garden beds. Just lay them on the surface of the ground in the size and shape desired and fill with soil. You can often get the logs for free, and they will degrade gradually enough for you to get years of use from them.

home with colorful flowers bushes

Shop Trees and Shrubs for Your Garden Borders

These are just a few ideas for you to consider when planning out your garden borders and edging designs. Most of these ideas are easy DIY projects that can be completed in a few hours but provide years of visual and practical impact on your yard.

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