10 Essential Design Tips to Create a Stunning Perennial Border for Year-round Beauty


Designing a perennial border can be an uplifting and creative endeavor. With careful planning and a bit of know-how, you can create a garden that is not only beautiful but also low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. Here are 10 tips to help you create the perfect perennial border.

1. Start the planning process beforehand. Take some time to think about what you want your garden to look like. Consider the color scheme, the types of plants you want to grow, and the overall mood you want to create.

2. Choose plants wisely. If you’re starting a garden from scratch, make sure to choose plants that are well-suited to your climate and soil conditions. This will ensure that they thrive and give you the most interest throughout the growing season.

3. Create blocks of color. One of the best ways to make your perennial border visually appealing is to group plants of the same color together. This creates a bold statement that draws the eye.

4. Consider the height of your plants. When choosing plants for your border, make sure to select a mix of tall and short varieties. This will add depth and dimension to your garden.

5. Don’t forget about butterflies. Butterflies are not only beautiful to watch but also serve as important pollinators. Plan to include plants that attract butterflies, such as milkweed and coneflower, to your perennial border.

6. Provide water for your plants. If your perennial border is located in a dry area, make sure to include plants that are drought-tolerant. This will ensure that your garden stays lush and healthy, even during periods of little rainfall.

7. Keep kids in mind. If you have kids, consider including plants that are safe to touch and play around. Some good choices include lamb’s ear and creeping thyme.

8. Add some hedges. Hedges can act as a natural border for your perennial garden, creating a beautiful and orderly look. Choose low-growing varieties that won’t overshadow your other plants.

9. Use bulbs to add interest. Bulb plants, such as tulips and daffodils, can add a burst of color to your perennial border. Plant them in intervals throughout the border for a stunning display.

10. Don’t forget about late-season interest. While most of your perennials will have finished flowering by late summer, there are still many plants that can add beauty and color to your garden at this time. Consider including flowers such as asters and sedums for a late-season show.

Remember, designing a perennial border is a form of art. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new ideas. With a little bit of planning and some creativity, you can create a garden that is not only beautiful but also filled with life and color.

12 Low-Maintenance Garden Border Ideas

When it comes to creating a beautiful garden, it’s always better late than never. If you haven’t done so already, get those border plans up and running. Uplifting and colorful, garden borders are the perfect addition to any landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these low-maintenance garden border ideas will help you create a stunning design.

1. Start with a plan: Beforehand, take the time to sketch out your border design on paper. Planning ahead will save you time and ensure that you have the right plants for your space.

2. Add some contrast: Mix tall and low-growing perennials to create a visually stunning contrast of foliage. Think about using plants like Heuchera (also known as Coral Bells) for their vibrant and varied leaf colors.

3. Choose easy-care perennials: Select perennials that are known for their low-maintenance qualities. Some favorites include irises, daylilies, and hardy geraniums.

4. Create intervals: Plant your perennials in groups, spacing them evenly along the border. This will create a more natural and visually pleasing look.

5. Emphasize foliage: While flowers are always a treat, don’t forget about the beauty of foliage. Choose perennials with interesting leaf shapes and shades of green to add depth to your border.

6. Consider full season interest: Look for plants that provide interest throughout the growing season. This way, your border will look beautiful from spring to winter.

7. Block weeds: Use hedges or low-growing plants to create a barrier against weeds. This will save you time and effort in the long run.

8. Water well: Proper watering is essential for the health of your plants. Make sure to water deeply and provide enough water for your border to thrive.

9. Grow miniatures: Add some miniatures to your border for a whimsical touch. Miniature roses, dwarf conifers, and miniature hostas are all great options.

10. Prune and maintain: Regularly prune your plants to keep them looking their best. This will help prevent overgrowth and promote healthy growth.

11. Try blue foliage: Blue foliage plants, like blue spruce or blue fescue, can add a unique and eye-catching element to your border design.

12. Mix it up: Don’t be afraid to mix different types of plants in your border, including annuals and perennials. This will create a dynamic and ever-changing spectacle.

Color Block Design

Color block design is a popular technique for creating a beautiful and organized perennial border. By grouping plants with similar colors together, you can create a striking visual impact that is sure to wow your friends and neighbors.

To create a color block design, start by choosing a color scheme. You can choose colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel for a dramatic contrast, or you can choose colors that are next to each other for a harmonious blend.

Once you have chosen your color scheme, it’s time to start planning the layout of your border. Consider the size and shape of your bed, and note any areas that may be shaded or receive full sun. This will help you determine where to plant different types of plants.

Next, select plants that will work well in your color scheme and in your specific growing conditions. Consider the height, texture, and flowering time of each plant. Try to choose a mix of annuals, perennials, bulbs, and shrubs to give your border interest throughout the year.

When it comes to planting, follow these steps:

  1. Clear the area of any weeds or unwanted plants.
  2. Prepare the soil by adding organic matter and loosening it with a spade.
  3. Plant your taller plants at the back of the border and your shorter plants at the front.
  4. Arrange the plants in color blocks, grouping plants with similar colors together.
  5. Fill in any gaps with smaller plants or colorful annuals.
  6. Water your plants well after planting, and treat them with a slow-release fertilizer.
  7. Prune back any dead or damaged growth as needed.

As your border grows, keep an eye on the plants and make any necessary adjustments. Some plants may need to be moved or divided, while others may need regular pruning or support. By giving your plants the care they need, you can ensure that your color block design stays beautiful and vibrant.

Whether you have a small border or a large garden, color block design is a great way to create a stunning and cohesive look. So grab your shovel and get planting – your perfect perennial border is just a few steps away!

Spring Bulb Spectacle

The spring season is the perfect time to plan and prepare your garden for an uplifting display of color and beauty. One way to create a stunning and vibrant garden is by planting spring bulbs. These bulbs are known for their early flowering and can add an array of colors and textures to your perennial border.

When choosing bulbs for your garden, consider the different varieties available. Some bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, thrive in full sun and well-drained soils. Others, like snowdrops and crocuses, are more shade tolerant and can be planted in shaded areas of your garden.

Before planting your bulbs, it’s important to prepare the soil. Remove any weeds and break up compacted soil to create a nutrient-rich environment for your bulbs to grow. You can also add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve the soil’s fertility.

When planting your bulbs, follow the instructions provided on the packaging. Most bulbs should be planted at a depth that is three times their height. Space the bulbs apart, allowing for proper air circulation and room to grow. If you’re unsure about the spacing, a general rule of thumb is to plant bulbs two to three times their width apart.

Once your bulbs are planted, it’s important to care for them properly. Water the bulbs thoroughly after planting, and continue to water them regularly throughout the growing season. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the bulbs to rot.

In late season, after the bulbs have finished flowering and the foliage begins to turn yellow, you can prune the foliage back to ground level. This will help rejuvenate the bulbs for the following year’s bloom.

One great way to add interest to your bulb display is by planting companion plants. Consider adding perennials such as heucheras or shrubs like lavender or rosemary. These plants can provide a beautiful backdrop for your bulb flowers, and their foliage can add texture and style to your garden.

If you have a small garden or limited space, you can still enjoy a spring bulb spectacle. Consider planting bulbs in containers or creating a small strip of bulbs along a sunny wall or fence. This can add a burst of color to your backyard without taking up too much space.

Remember, planning and designing your garden is always a fun and creative process. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas and experiment with different combinations of bulbs and plants. With a little bit of care and attention, you can create a stunning and colorful spring display that will bring joy to you and your family.

Here are 10 tips to help you create the perfect spring bulb spectacle:

  1. Choose a variety of bulbs for continuous flowering throughout the season.
  2. Consider planting bulbs that are resistant to drought and easy-care.
  3. Plant bulbs in groups or clusters for a more natural and realistic look.
  4. Include bulbs with different heights to add depth and interest to your garden.
  5. Use bulbs to block weeds and create a colorful border in your garden.
  6. Plant bulbs in the front of your perennial border for an eye-catching display.
  7. Combine bulbs with other flowering plants to create a stunning and diverse garden.
  8. Experiment with different colors and combinations of bulbs for a unique and vibrant display.
  9. Choose bulbs that will flower at different times to extend the flowering season.
  10. Don’t forget to involve the kids in the planting process. It’s a fun and educational activity for the whole family.

With these tips in mind, you can create a spring bulb spectacle that will bring joy and beauty to your garden year after year.

Colorful Foliage

Adding plants with colorful foliage is a great way to bring visual interest to your perennial border. Miniatures, ornamental grasses, and plants with variegated leaves can all offer unique and eye-catching foliage colors.

When selecting plants for colorful foliage, consider the season in which they will shine. Some plants, like Japanese maples and purple smoke bushes, have foliage that turns vibrant shades of red and orange in the fall. Others, like coral bells and hostas, have foliage that is colorful all season long.

To keep your perennial border looking fresh and rejuvenated, plant a variety of plants with different foliage colors. This will ensure that there is always something interesting happening in your garden, no matter what time of year it is.

In the summer, small flowering plants with colorful foliage can be placed in the front of your border to add a pop of color. Some great options for this include dahlias, cannas, and coleus.

In the backyard, you can create a colorful foliage border by planting a mix of perennials and annuals. Some of the most popular choices include purple coneflowers, Russian sage, and black-eyed Susans.

If you have a small space or are looking to create a more formal garden, consider planting a border of hedges with colorful foliage. Blue hollies, boxwoods, and euonymus are all great options for this.

When designing your perennial border, it’s important to keep in mind the height and spread of your plants. Place the tallest plants in the back, and the shortest plants in the front, to create a perfect backdrop for your garden.

Remember to also consider the light requirements of your plants. Some plants, like hostas and ferns, prefer shade, while others, like daylilies and black-eyed Susans, thrive in full sun.

Before planting your perennial border, it’s a good idea to make a plan of where you want to place each plant. This will help you visualize the final result and ensure that you have the right plants for your desired look.

When choosing plants for your perennial border, it’s important to select ones that are resistant to pests and diseases. This will help ensure that your plants stay healthy and vibrant throughout the growing season.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things with your perennial border. The most beautiful gardens are often the result of a combination of tried-and-true plants and unexpected surprises.

By following these tips and incorporating plants with colorful foliage into your perennial border, you can create a stunning and eye-catching spectacle in your garden.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.