Wide Borders – How to Make Them Work

Wide deep borders can present a challenge, but they also offer lots of scope for impact and creativity. Here's some tips on how to make them work.

If you have recently moved into a home with large deep borders and are feeling a bit overwhelmed as to what to do with them, you are not alone! For inexperienced gardeners mature gardens with large deep borders can present a bit of a challenge, but there is lots you can do to make them work.

While deep borders can take a bit of looking after, they are not necessarily high maintenance. So, when thinking about what to do with the borders, here are a few tips and pointers:

Review Your Planting

Is the border full of large shrubs, which look glorious in their natural shape and are doing a good job at covering the ground and suppressing weeds? If the answer to this is “yes”, then you might not want to do anything at all!

But if the border is half bare / weed ridden, or full of small herbaceous plants requiring more frequent tending and weeding, then you might want to consider changing the planting to something requiring lower maintenance. Contact us if you need help with a new planting scheme.

Sometimes the problem can be that a particular shrub has taken over too much of the border. Here you will need to consider whether it can be dramatically pruned, or whether it needs to be removed entirely.

Reasons for Keeping Your Wide Deep Border

Not everyone is looking to reduce planting space to reduce maintenance. Before you rush to reduce the size of your borders, consider the benefits of keeping them…

  • A deep border can be a really exciting prospect if you love plants and can be enjoyable to plan and plant.
  • When planned well, a wide deep border can be impactful and offer more scope for creativity by using a variety of trees, shrubs and perennial plants that work together throughout the seasons.
  • With more space, plants can be allowed to grow naturally without being constantly trimmed to keep them in bounds. This can reduce maintenance time.
  • Other ways of reducing maintenance in deep borders include: mulching around plants to reduce weeds and choosing plants that are low-maintenance and well suited to the soil and position.

Planning Planting for a Wide Deep Border

Here are some general tips for planning your planting…

  • Large shrubs can be located towards the back of the border forming a mixed and varied foliage tapestry.
  • The height of the planting can be gradually graded down towards the front of the border.
  • To tie this together, some neat low edging plants at the front of the border work well.
  • A central layer of colourful perennials and smaller shrubs in the middle of the border provides colourful interest.
  • As always, if you need some creative input, do let us know.

Reduce the Size of the Border

If having considered the above, you would still like to reduce the size of the border, there are a variety of options open to you. The easiest way is obviously just to convert part of it back to lawn or gravel etc.

But this excercise can also be viewed in a creative way, bringing more interest to your garden. Some ideas include:

  • Re-shaping the lawn and borders to introduce curves – allowing borders to be wider in some areas and narrower in others.
  • Adding a feature area or seat area within the border, which will enhance the garden but also reduce the planting space.
  • Adding a path to your border, which will add interest to the garden and also reduce planting space.

Add a Path to Your Border

Installing some form of path through a border can add real appeal and genuine interest to a garden. A path will reduce planting space and maintenance time and will help with access for the back of the border.

When a border has a path running through it, the front section of the border effectively becomes double sided with some taller plants located towards the back of the front section of the border. And as you walk along the path, you might want to see some smaller plants located at the path edge in the middle of the border.

The planting can become complex (let us know if you need a hand!)

The photos below show a garden we created a few years ago, where a cobbled setts pathway divides the large planting border, and draws the eye towards the bottom of the garden. As you walk down the path, you take a journey through the planting until you reach a new sun terrace at the end. The timber archway provides options for climbing plants to add height and variety to the border.

There are lots of options open to you if you have wide deep borders in your garden and each garden is unique. So if you would like some creative input to see what’s possible in your garden, do get in touch.

Like what you see?

From planning a new border to a complete garden remodel, we pride ourselves on transforming ideas into beautiful reality, with minimum disruption. If you’re based in or around the Reading and Newbury area, we’d love to meet and discuss your project in detail – book your free no-obligation garden consultation today. We do get pretty booked up, particularly during the Spring, so plan ahead if possible!