Sustainable Environment
Sustainable Environment
We support alternatives to single use plastics
Consumption & Conservation
Consumption & Conservation
We harvest rainwater from our on-site reservoirs
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Reduced Carbon Footprint
With 80% of bedding plants grown onsite
Composting & Recycling
Composting & Recycling
We recycle over 90% of our on-site waste

Plan & Plant a Border

Adding a border to your garden can provide stunning colour, structure and all year-round interest.

Planning and preparation are key to ensure your creation is a success.

Here’s a few guidelines, hints and tips to help you get started.

What is a border and where do I create it?

  • Borders are basically a defined area of planting – this could be a strip of ground along a boundary or you could create a shaped bed somewhere else within your garden. Think about where the border will be viewed from.

The planning process…

  • Observing growing conditions – Really looking at your garden is a good place to start – appreciating the growing conditions helps you to choose plants that will grow well in the border.
    • Aspect and sunlight – Is where you want to plan your border in a sunny or shady spot or mix of both? Make a note of how much sunlight the areas receive during different times of the day and think how this might vary during different times of the year.
    • Aspect is the compass direction that a border faces and will help determine how much light it will get during the day. South and west facing borders get the most sunlight and will suit plants that like full sun. Whereas east and north facing borders will get much less sunlight, so they are better for shade-loving plants.
    • Few gardens are completely open, so consider nearby trees and buildings that might also block sunlight to the area at different times of the day.
    • Soil is an important factor too – Is the soil free-draining or does it tend to get waterlogged or very dry in areas? Determining this will help indicate the soil type in your garden, along with the soil PH…is your soil acidic, alkaline or neutral? This can be checked through a simple PH testing kit, available to buy at all of our centres. Knowing your PH levels and how free-draining your soil is helps to inform your plant choices.
  • Selecting your plants
    • Grow a range of plants and think about having something in flower every month of the year – this will not only provide interest through the seasons, but encourage and benefit pollinators too.
    • Colour is also an important factor – smaller borders can look better with a more limited colour palette – two to three similar shades e.g., red, orange, yellows or select contrasting colours, opposite on a colour wheel e.g., yellow and mauve.
    • Larger borders can take more colours, but also consider flower and foliage colours.
    • Think about different sizes (ultimate height and spread), forms, and textures going together. When planting a boundary border, you will be looking for taller shrubs to go at the back or if you have a central feature border, then taller varieties will go centrally. So, make a note of the size and spread of your chosen plants, this will help you with your plan.
    • You can find inspiration from gardening books and magazines. You can go for a theme, such as Mediterranean border – if you have sun and free-draining soil or a woodland border if you have some shade and moisture retentive soil. Other popular styles to consider include formal, cottage style, wildlife, alpine/rockery, coastal and tropical. Many planting styles can be adapted to a range of conditions with careful plant choices.
    • Please always ask our plant experts in any of our four centres for more advice on making suitable plant choices.
  • Make a plan
    • Once you have your planting style and plants earmarked, add these to a plan. This doesn’t have to be a wonderfully drawn illustration, but just an outline of the space, with its overall dimensions. If it’s done to scale, you should then be able to work out the number of plants you need to fill the area. Graph paper is very useful for this. You can then use this plan to help as a guideline for when you are physically planting out.
    • As a general rule of thumb, allow five herbaceous perennials, or three small shrubs, or one large shrub per m2. Allow space between plants, give them the space they need for when they will reach their ultimate size. Think about positioning plants in groups of three of the same kind to give a better appearance as opposed to randomly dotting them in.
  • How to create the border – step-by-step
  1. Planting is best done in spring or autumn
  2. Mark out where you want your border to go. For a straight edge use a string line, or for a curved edge, use a hope-pipe as a template guide for cutting edges. Measure out the dimensions as per your plan.
  3. Prepare the ground. This is important ahead of planting. Dig over compacted soil, remove any weeds, old roots, large stones and keep working it over until it has a crumble like texture.
  4. Improve you soil. Add organic matter – garden compost or farmyard manure to the surface of the soil and mix in evenly. Add more if you have sandy or heavy clay soil. Rake to even out soil surface.
  5. Position your plants. Using your plan, set out your plants, still in their pots, in the planned positions – move them around until you are completely happy.
  6. Water your plants before you plant them in.
  7. Planting begins! Start at the back for a boundary border or centre for a feature island border. Take each plant in turn, dig a hole wider than the plant’s pot and as deep as the root system, place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil. Firm the plant in around the stem base.
  8. Water well after planting.

We stock all the right tools for the job, browse our range available in store and from our on-line shop 

See our extensive range of plants for borders click here.  All hardy garden plants purchased at Coolings Garden Centres are covered by our plant guarantee for 5 years and for Coolings Family Members this extends to 7 years. For more information click here 

If you need further help with your border, please do ask any of our knowledgeable team in our four centres.