Antony Henn’s Top Tips on How to Plan a Garden Border

A well-designed garden border simply ‘looks right’, even to an untrained eye. There is a balance and harmony hard to describe but get this right and you’ll create a thing of joy that will make you smile and make your neighbours envious!

While it can be easy to create a perfect looking border in the short term, cramming your display full of seasonal bedding will often leave you with nothing by winter, along with the chore of having to start all over again next year! This is where Garden on a Roll’s ready-made borders come in - our garden experts have designed and crafted beautiful garden borders, so you can plant and enjoy your new outdoor space, year after year. If you’re trying to find out how to plan a garden border, read on!

Assessing Your Outdoor Space 

When planning a garden border from scratch there are various things to consider. For new build gardens, we find that most people want borders along the boundary line to disguise the fence or to create colour and bring life to the garden. 

An empty garden is unappealing to birds and wildlife, so creating curvy beds within a lawn is particularly appealing, especially in large grass areas. If you have very poor or waterlogged soil, raised beds are a popular solution while also offering easy maintenance.

Once you have decided where and how wide the border should be, it is time to think about how much light hits that area to help choose a border design that will thrive there.

Define Your Garden Border Goals 

Everyone has a different vision for their garden and it is likely this will change over time as it did for me in my own garden. We have an old cottage, so for us a Cottage Garden looks right with curvy borders and lots of perennial flowers with a backbone of evergreen shrubs. Certain areas however away from the house have been transformed into a more contemporary space, creating an exciting juxtaposition of styles. 

Adding contemporary features or focal points can really inject personality and your own unique style to any border. A very modern sculpture for instance does not look out of place in my traditional country garden border. 

If you’re considering how to plan a garden border for a new build, the focus is often to create privacy or intimacy in a wide open space. Plants do a great job of quickly transforming a barren garden into something cozy and welcoming, especially by carefully positioning trees to perhaps give privacy from an imposing window (prying eyes) from next door.

Choosing the Right Plants  

If you are trying to plan a border yourself from scratch it can be very challenging, especially for a first time gardener. There is almost too much information out there which can be confusing, with complicated latin names that can make matters even worse. Sharing this garden knowledge and expertise was the founding inspiration behind Garden on a Roll, to help less experienced gardeners get fantastic results first time, and make gardening accessible to everyone! 

We know what plants work for any type of outdoor space. We select plants that give height at the back, grading down to lower at the front, with a mix of flowering and evergreen plants to suit most soil types. We select the best plants for a particular border design be it sun or shade, with the emphasis on attracting wildlife. We also try to include plants that flower at various times of the year, so there is always something to catch the eye.

Design Principles for Garden Borders 

Another option if you do not have the confidence to plan a border yourself is to employ a garden designer. When designing a border, I like to take the below into consideration:

  1. Is the border in sun shade or semi-shade?
  2. How high should the plants be along the back?
  3. Is there a theme to the border?
  4. Which plants best compliment each other?
  5. How will it look in the winter (include an evergreen backbone)?
  6. And finally, ensure the plants chosen will give as long a flowering season as possible

However, while a garden designer will provide a planting plan, bear in mind this is without plants. Garden on a Roll can do both with expert horticulture, designed and delivered for your garden. Simple!

Practical Considerations 

Healthy soil is the most important aspect of any garden. Without this no plants will thrive which will in turn, will have a negative effect on the wildlife that depend on these plants. 

In new housing developments, most gardens are covered in a thin layer of poor topsoil over a mix of subsoil, brick rubble and other waste materials hastily buried underground. This can present itself as a problem for the new homeowner, and it’s with putting in a bit of work to put this right and give your borders a fighting chance.

I always recommend laying a covering of well-composted manure or soil conditioner at a depth of about 3-4cm deep (if the ground is inhospitable) then fork it roughly into the top 20-30cm of the soil removing bricks etc as you go. Keep forking and bashing the lumps down until you end up with a friable, dark looking topsoil. I would suggest a similar mulch of compost once or twice a year to keep the soil healthy and bursting with life. If done correctly, you should be able to easily dig a hole with a hand trowel - and now you are ready to plant! 

If the ground is too bad or waterlogged for instance, think about lifting the soil level by using a raised bed such as the ones supplied by our friends at WoodBlocx. Simply fill these with good quality topsoil and leave the old soil underneath! Once you have the border or raised bed completed, our ready-made borders will help you get it right first-time, without the guesswork and hassle.

Unlock the Convenience of Our Ready-Made Borders 

If you’re thinking about designing your garden border but want to avoid losing time by learning as you go over the seasons, our Garden on a Roll borders adopt a planting by numbers approach to create your perfect border, first time. Simply choose a style, width and length that suits you and our gardening experts will take care of the rest. 

As a garden designer myself, I have made many mistakes over the years choosing plants that I loved or bought on impulse, only to find that often they would not thrive. That’s why our Garden on a Roll borders feature truly resilient, hardy, yet beautiful varieties of plants that will grow happily in most gardens around the UK. 

Contact us for more advice on how to plan and create your perfect garden border and how Garden on a Roll can help.