Landscape Design

It's hard not to love perennials, especially when they're used in gorgeous border designs! A well-planned perennial border instantly brightens and elevates any outdoor space, making them a must-have addition to your Arkansas landscape this spring. However, with a seemingly endless array of these long-lived beauties to choose from, the task of creating a magazine-worthy perennial border can be a daunting one. Lucky for you, we've put together this list of our top pro tips to help you design your perfect perennial border and turn your garden into a year-round delight.

What Is a Perennial Border?

A perennial or herbaceous border is an arrangement of herbaceous perennials that combines bright colors, striking textures, and varying plant heights to create stunning effects and eye-catching displays. First made popular during the Victorian Era, these borders became a staple element of British gardens, lining country estates and humble cottages alike. Today, we similarly use perennial borders to add year-round interest in our gardens, attract important local pollinators, and enjoy a variety of flowering plants season after season, though on a much smaller scale.

How To Make a Great Perennial Border in Arkansas

Here are a few expert tips to help you create a stunning perennial border this spring that everyone will love:

Know Your Site

Don't plant anything until you understand your planting site's features and characteristics, including soil type and quality, drainage, water logging issues, and other common factors that might hinder your best efforts. Many plants have specific soil requirements, and there's no point in spending all that money on plants that are just going to flop in their new home. The best rule for planning a perennial border is to choose native plants adapted to your site. We also recommend that you pay close attention to local weather habits and prepare your site accordingly. After all, we in Arkansas must always be ready for storm season! Make sure your border location can be weather-proofed when necessary.

Know Your Proportions

There's nothing worse than a perennial border that makes no sense, so having a keen eye for proportions is key for the visual success of your border design. Pay particularly close attention to factors like the height of other landscape features and the length of your available outdoor space. You don't want to pack too many flowers into a tiny space or have a border that's too skinny for your expansive backyard. Finding the right size for your perennial border is about finding the size that makes sense without making it too over or under-whelming.

Know What's in Peak Season

The best part about a perennial border is the stunning floral displays you can create year-round. Perennials bloom at different times of the year, meaning if you plan your border properly, you can enjoy different seasonal arrangements all year, including spring, summer, fall, and even winter displays. If you don't particularly enjoy cold-weather gardening, however, focus your planting strategy on perennials that typically flower when you use your garden the most. Choosing winter flowering plants that have no life during the summer months, for example, will leave gaps in your overall border design, lessening your enjoyment of your space.

Know Your Superstars

For a professional, intentional look, plan your perennial border design around a few standout plants, like roses, long-lasting evergreens, and other shrubs. Plants that flower for more extended periods should have more dominant positions in the border, while the rest can be tactfully woven around them.

Know Your Flowers

Picking the right perennials to plant on your border can be exciting, but we recommend taking the time to consider how your plants are going to work together. Think not just about color, but also about how their foliage and textures will play off of surrounding plants. You may also want to leave room for some of your favorite annuals. If things start feeling monotonous, don't be afraid to change things up and modify your perennial border design every few years to maintain interest.

Know your Heights

The traditional way to design a perennial border is to use gradations in height, with the tallest plants at the back of the border and the shortest at the front. While you don't always have to follow this guideline to the letter, it dramatically impacts the overall aesthetic of your perennial border. This design strategy also allows you to fill spaces between the stems of taller flowers like dahlias and hide patches of soil with bushier, lower-growing selections. One key exception to this rule is when using ornamental grasses, which are light, airy, and more fluid than other perennials.

Don’t Forget the Edging!

If you're planting your perennial border beside a grass lawn, make sure you have a sharp distinction between where one ends and the other begins, ideally with some sort of straight line. Many garden designers like to create this distinction by planting a line of long-flowering plants right at the edge that draws the eye all season. If you choose to go this route, don't be afraid to plant close together, as a condensed border will naturally inhibit weed growth. We hope you're looking forward to designing and planting your own perennial border in Arkansas this year! If you're on the hunt for plants, supplies, or just a few more expert tips and tricks, drop by and visit us at one of our many locations in Fayetteville, Rogers, and Springdale, AR. We hope to see you soon!

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