A garden border bursting with colour, structure and some interesting varieties thrown in the mix, is often a frequent gardener’s dream. However, an immaculate garden border is often deemed as a distant dream, and sometimes they most likely are!

But professionally-run gardens such as the Chelsea Flower show are created to inspire and that they do. So can you grow a successful garden border at home? Of course and this is truly possible. If put in the right direction because real gardens take time to develop and garden borders can change from year to year. There are some essential factors to consider and we are going to run through all you need to know in our guide to growing a successful garden border.

Get to Know & Assess Your Site

First things first, what kind of garden do you have? or what is the area like where you plan for your border to go? Assessing the site is the best starting point. You will need to consider the size, proportions and shape of your border. If you’re opting for a longer border, it should be deeper (90cm – 1.2m depth – 3-4ft) but if you’re doing a super long border then double this up! Once you have your proportions, you will need to consider the below:

What soil type do you have?

Knowing your soil is a priority and you might already if you’re an avid gardener. To tell one type of soil apart from another is seen in their various characteristics. This also then defines their gardening characteristics. The particles that make up the soil play a huge part in this, so, it’s best to get your hands dirty and start feeling what type of soil you have. If your unsure of this process, read our blog on What Type of Soil Do I Have? to find out!

How much sun and shade do you get?

Keep any eye on your garden and know the conditions of where you garden border lives. Is it hot and sunny? or cool and shady? Read our blog Top Tips for Shady Gardens to find out more about different types of shade and what you have!

Choose Your Plants

Choosing the plants you want to grow and commit to is one of the most joyous aspects of gardening. But, it can also be the most daunting and worrying. Doing some research on what plants grow best in your garden conditions is a great starting point. Here are some additional tips about how many plants to use and the types of combinations.

What flowers grow well in your garden previously?

If there are some varieties that you know grow really well in your garden and thrive, you can draw up a list of well-suited plants.

How many different plants should I use?

We feel picking between shrubs, perennials and annuals is a good option. And perhaps not going wild on the number of varieties, but picking between a few and repeating them across the border. If you cram too many different types of plants in one space, it will become scattered and most likely look uncoordinated. If you have a favourite flower in mind that you would love to grow, research its growing conditions and see if it will work before you buy!

Shrubs – These will offer strong structure throughout the border while adding interest through their colour. There are so many different kinds of shrubs to choose from, but evergreens are useful because they look great through the winter months too!

Perennials – A perennial or two will provide spectacular colour through spring and summer. But again there are so many to choose from. Think about adding some varieties which bring height and shape, and plant hardy perennials in groups of 3-5 to create the best look. Read our guide on How to Create an Easycare perennial Border Here!

Annuals – Often perennials and shrubs can take a few years to establish and begin looking their best so an annual is a great option for quick growing colour and interest in the meantime.

Create Your Colour Scheme & Design Your Theme

Colour Schemes

Colour is the fun bit but consider kind of colours work well together and how many different varieties come in the same colour!

Colour Variations – When it comes to colour there is a lot to consider. When it comes to starting a garden border or perhaps wanting a refresh on your current one, thinking about colour unity is a great start. Perhaps you desire blues and reds, well, you could grow different variations of the same colour which creates great impact and different tones.

Colour Pallette – Be clever with colour and restrict the palette. Having masses of mixed colour might not look as excellent as imagined altogether. Colours like white and pink make space look bigger while red and orange can bring space in. Striking colours like blue, purple or yellow can be exquisite when meticulously placed in a border, but if you overdo it, they might overpower and lose their wow factor!

Design Themes

When it comes to designing your garden border, we refer to design around the shapes of your chosen plants, repetition across the border and layers, combinations and fragrances!

Shapes – Flower shapes can vary from spires, globes, daisies, screens, trumpets, plumes and more! Growing a different shapes together can work or clash, so perhaps research online to create that spark!

Layers – In terms of layers, it suits to have shrubs as a backdrop and often the more striking flower plants sitting at the front. This makes the colours of the flower pop and allows the rear of the border to be the backbone.

Fragrance & Combinations – These come with your choice of plants. If you choose flowers with scents you not only get to enjoy the look of your border but their fragrance will be carried in the passing breeze. If you opt for a combination type border, then planting varieties that vary in shape, height and texture can really produce an engaging and eyecatching display!

Get Your Soil Ready

Getting your soil ready for the border will be one of the best things you do, and the early graft will pay off in years to come!

All you need to is dig up the grass or dig over the existing soil and mix in some well-rotted compost. This will hit the ground running with you new plants while improving the structure and drainage of your soil. You can also add in some slow release fertiliser too.

Planting Your Garden Border


To kick off the planting process of your garden border, it is a good idea to work out where your plants are going to grow. Consider how big they will become and allow space for this. Plan to plant the same varieties in groups to 3-5 for a large bundle or you can spread them out at random. It does always look fabulous when big shrubby leaves sit in the back and more peculiar varieties are viewable from the front!

There’s no harm in sketching up your plan!

Best Time to Begin Planting

Once you feel ready to begin the planting job, a new border is often planted out in spring when the soil is moist and the temperature is warming up. In summer the heat is often too hot and dries up the soil, meaning plants will struggle, so if you have missed your chance in spring you could always wait out till the autumn.

How To Plant A Garden Border

When it comes to the digging part, it’s best to dig your planting holes just a little larger than the rootball of each plant. Gently tease out the roots of each plant before you position them in the ground – this will help the roots to establish. A top tip to remember is to reposition your plants at the same level depth as they were when growing in the pot. And always remember to water them in afterward.

After Care

For the greatest results, keep watering your border throughout the summer months, especially until the roots have grown and can stretch out and find their own water source. Watering the morning or at night is best when temperatures are not at their highest and there isn’t a chance of scortching the leaves!

We wish you the best of luck with your garden border and whatever you are doing on plot, or indoors, make sure to share your gardening activities on our social media pages!

Check out our latest blog posts below!

2 thought on “How to Grow a Successful Garden Border: Design & Planting”
    1. Hi Michael, thank you for your kind comment. We are so pleased our blog has been helpful to you.
      Best regards,
      The Dobies Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.