Effortless Garden Borders: 12 Low-Maintenance Ideas to Try

A garden border is a wide range of things. A garden border in Europe is another name for a flowerbed, also known as an herbal border. In the United States a garden edge is the closest part of a flower bed or a garden to a walkway, driveway, or path. A garden border is also a narrow strip planted with flowers or as another planting area.

No matter what you choose, there are many ways to create a border that is both functional and beautiful.

Here are some of our favorite low-maintenance ideas for garden borders. They feature a variety plants and flowers, with factors such as color, texture and bloom time taken into consideration. They are all low-maintenance, whether they include perennials or annuals.


Color Block Design
Low-maintenance garden border ideas with violet flowers

A border with large blocks of color is a striking and easy-to-implement strategy. This simple combination of ajugas and anemones creates a vibrant violet-blue color in the flower bed. It is best placed at the border to make a big impact. Try forget-me nots, which are a pale blue flower that blooms profusely during spring. Deadheading them will keep them from spreading too much but the new plants can be easily pulled up.


Spring Bulb Spectacle
In a large garden, tulips and daffodils are planted in many garden borders.

Spring bulbs offer a variety of options for a three-season display of beauty and blooms. These bulbs are perfect for a spring garden with a lot of color, such as this one that has daffodils and tulips at the borders. As your bulbs die off (in April or May), you can add more perennials. Plants with small roots and foliage that is raised off the ground are good choices for planting near bulbs. These include hostas and day lilies.


Colorful Foliage
Silver tansy, euphorbia and chartreuse flowers are combined in a border flower garden

Colorful foliage is a low-maintenance way to add color in the border. Artemisias have silvery tones; heucheras are available in a variety of colors; euphorbias can be found in a wide range of textures and colors. Lower-growing sedums offer a selection of foliage colors including blues, grays, purples and greens. Silver tansys (Tanacetum haradjanii) and Euphorbias myrsinites combine their blue-grey and green colors. Caladiums and coleus are two annuals with colorful leaves.


Colorful Shade Border
Shade garden with burgundy Heuchera and Variegated Euonymus

Shade gardens need not be colorless. This circular shade garden has a border that is adorned with burgundy Heucheras, variegated Euonymus and light green ferns.

Mediterranean Style
In a large garden, there are clumps of lavender along the pale purple and white border paths.

Herbs thrive in the mild climate of southern Europe. If you have sandy soil, plenty of sun and a warmer growing zone, consider adding some aromatic culinary herbs to your border. If you have the right conditions, many useful herbs can be grown as perennials. These include oregano and thyme. The huge plants that overflow the walkways in these lavender gardens create a fragrant paradise for the visitors.


Tall but Airy
White anemone flower in gren border with shrubs and grasses

Tall plants can also work. Choose plants that have a small, airy crown to allow for the view of plants behind. You can choose from agapanthus (pictured), alliums (pictured), camassia (a bulb which appears in early autumn), flax (pictured), anchusa (“Dropmore”), delphiniums (pictured), rose campion (pictured), anemones and globe thistles. The annual cosmos is a tall flower that has delicate flowers and feathery stems.


Low Hedges
boxwood hedge garden border

The paths in this lush garden in Sweden connect different areas. This path has short, chunky hedges of boxwood that are neatly clipped. The angular shapes complement the organic and round shapes throughout the garden.


Late Season Color
Purple and yellow garden border idea

Perennials that bloom late in the year are a great way to keep the show going. Perennial mums provide a steady supply of vibrant color. Order them in spring from a reputable nursery for fall blooms, and they will grow in size every year. This striking contrast between yellow zinnias, purple mums and acorns makes a stunning autumn border.


Drought-tolerant border plants
Garden border that is drought resistant

There are many options if you live in a desert or dry climate or just want a border that is more drought resistant. You can create a low-maintenance border with succulents such as creeping sedums, hens and chickens or Euphorbias. They spread rapidly but not aggressively, and they come in many different flowering varieties. This California garden is full of drought-tolerant plants, including yarrow (flowering catmint), euphorbia, and nepeta.


Creeping and Meandering
A bright purple dianthus bordered by a flower bed

The border can be enhanced by creeping plants such as dianthus, thread-leaf dianthus, coreopsis (especially the spreading varieties, like ‘Firewitch’), or short Asters (such as ‘Wood’s Blue’). These plants will spill over in an attractive way and create a natural-looking design. Deadheading will keep your perennials neat and tidy. It also encourages them to bloom more. This dianthus, for example, will produce a second or third round of flowers after the spent blooms are removed.


Uplifting Miniatures
Dwarf irises with creeping perennials in a gravel flowerbed

There are many perennials that come in dwarf or miniature forms, such as irises, columbines (the pictured ‘Bright Blue Eyes,’), day lilies and roses. These shorter plants allow for a greater variety of perennials to bloom in the front border over three seasons.


Green Borders
Shady garden border ideas

This border is a shady area that features plants with green leaves, displaying beautiful shapes and textures. These include variegated Irises, Heuchera, Hosta, and Pulmonaria. Color variations include stripes, spots and edges as well as shades of green. These plants also produce colorful flower.