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Garden Landscaping Ideas for Borders and Edges

Gardening is one of our favorite pastimes here at Decoist, and while we’ve featured a variety of landscaping ideas in the past, today’s post is dedicated to borders, edges and trim. We’re talking about those areas off the lawn and out of the pebbled courtyards, including raised beds and planters. These peripheral sections of your outdoor space have the potential to make a big impact. How? Keep reading and we’ll show you… [image from Emma Griffin Garden Design]

Assortment of lush plants in a modern manicured yard

Border and Edge Ideas

The areas that surround the open space in your yard have the potential to truly pop, but it all starts with clear delineation. If you’re looking to make a big impact, try a custom concrete wall, such as the one below from Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture:

Custom concrete wall by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Steel edging is one of today’s most popular trim choices for the modern garden. It’s sleek, it’s clean-lined, and it only gets more interesting as it ages. Below we see steel edging from Skemah[photo by Dean Homicki]

Steel edging provides a modern garden border

Sometimes the border of your yard is simply what’s left when the center space is developed and landscaped. When the middle of the yard includes a patio or an abundance of gravel, the border can truly shine when filled with plants. [from Raymond Jungles, Inc.]

Miami yard with a tropical border

You can also make a statement by going out of your way to create a border in an area where there isn’t usually extra definition. For example, the gravel and stepping stone pathway below is clearly defined by the steel edging of the yard, yet Tim Davies Landscaping takes it all a step further by lining the walkway with an assortment of interesting plants. [image from Grab Photography]

Plants at the edges of the walkway create visual interest

A Little Repetition

Next we’ll take a look at an eye-catching strategy for the modern yard: repetition. Whether you have a plant bed at the edge of the yard or you’re looking for a clever way to delineate the lawn from the hillside, try planting a collection of wild grasses. Instead of varying the type of grass, go with duplicates. Yes, there’s power in numbers when it comes to repetition. [from Huettl Landscape Architecture]

Repetition goes a long way in the world of landscaping

Filling garden beds with one type of plant creates a modern aesthetic, especially when the selections are unusual in color and form, as shown by the outdoor space below from Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture:

Clusters of plants in raised garden beds

Repetition is also effective when it comes to borders, such as the area lining the sidewalk or the walkway to the main entrance. This pathway by Tim Davies Landscaping features plants in varying shades of green:

Pathway design by Tim Davies Landscaping

Instead of filling an entire graveled area or garden bed with the same type of plant, try a more minimalist approach by lining only the area next to the trim. In the next image, we see small shrubs planted just inside the graveled area separated from the rest of the yard by steel trim. There’s beauty in open space, especially when sleek gravel is involved! [from FAB Architecture]

A row of manicured shrubs creates a tidy look near the front entrance


From repetition to a free-for-all… We now turn our attention to lush displays of a variety of plants, a popular look for raised beds, rock gardens and other peripheral areas of the yard. This stunning landscaping by Shades of Green Landscape Architecture includes blue agave, succulents, and colorful selections in various heights.

Succulents and blue agave in a garden by Shades of Green

Below we see an assortment of grasses lining a graveled walkway. If your plant collection includes selections that are a similar shade of green, include plants of various textures to add interest. [photo by Emma Cross for Mihaly Slocombe Architects]

Clusters of grasses bordering a pebbled path

For a sculptural look, try grasses and spiky plants. Mexican feather grass (shown below) is easily rippled by the wind, creating a dramatic statement, especially when placed near modern architecture. [from Shades of Green Landscaped Architecture]

Variety of grasses contained by a concrete retaining wall

Don’t hesitate to add whimsical flowers and tall, stalky plants for variety and drama. The area lining a patio is the perfect place to create a natural border or a privacy divider with tall plants. [from Emma Griffin Garden Design]

Residential garden with an assortment of green plants

When combining plants, it’s important to consider their needs, such as lighting and temperature. In this lovely tropical space from Shades of Green Landscape Architecture, shade and dappled sunlight create an ideal setting for plants such as ferns and succulents:

Shaded garden by Shades of Green

No Space Is Too Small

If you think your compact yard is too small for delineated areas, edges and strategic borders, think again. Beautiful plant selections line this small outdoor space from Jodie Cook Landscape Design. If you’re short on room, try lining one side of a walkway or yard with plants instead of both sides.

Modern outdoor space by Jodie Cook Landscape Design

Don’t underestimate the power of a narrow border. Compact grasses and tall bamboo stalks can add modern style, as shown in this 4.5m x 12m outdoor space. [from Orbis]

Less is more in this yard featuring bamboo and other grasses

Since grass isn’t a common feature of rooftop gardens, these special areas are ideal for large planters and other special borders. There’s no shortage of verdant style in this rooftop space by Todd Haiman Landscape Design:

Modern balcony by Todd Haiman Landscape Design

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of surrounding a deck or patio with a sea of flowers. This rooftop garden features flowering sedum plants supplied by LiveRoof[from Spore]

Flowering sedum plants on a rooftop garden

Whether you add interest with a special edging material, strategic repetition or a lush display of plants, remember that no space is too small to landscape. Especially when it comes to borders, trim and planters that act as dividers! Happy gardening…

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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