Simple tips and tricks to creating eco-friendly garden beds and borders
Garden beds and borders are back in fashion. Unlike traditional perennial beds and borders, today’s garden plots comprise of eco-friendly plants that perform well, require little care and offer year-long interest. Usually these plots feature tough flowering perennials with hardy shrubs, bulbs, grasses and other foliage plants.
The following 10 steps will help you create garden beds and borders that don’t just look great but are environmentally-friendly too:
1. Use environmentally-friendly plants that require low maintenance, preferably ones that are drought tolerant and do not need any chemicals to perform.
2. Add framework by investing in shrubs. When interspersed throughout the garden they add structure and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, colours, foliage types and much more.
3. Create variety by using different flowers. Use flowers that last a long time and add seasonal colours that will bloom throughout your garden. For example, Salvia ‘May Night’ sends out 30cm purple/blue blooms starting in early spring and continues to bloom all summer long. Flower Carpet, the original “eco rose” blooms from spring through late autumn and comes in a variety of colours. You can’t go wrong with a mix of low-maintenance Flower Carpet Pink and Salvia May Night for non-stop blooms.
4. Take advantage of white. White is great for breaking up clashing colours and for softening harsh edges. Consider using white-variegated or white-blooming plants with contrasting shapes, like Volcano® phlox or Snow Storm agapanthus. Another advantage to white blooms is that they show up in the dark and smell great in the evening air.
5. Create a backdrop. Anthony Tesselaar suggests Fairy Magnolia® Blush, with its dark-green, compact foliage and masses of russet-colored buds followed by heavenly scented, spring flowers. If you have limited space, a few pieces of ornamental fencing material will help to create your backdrop.
6. Make it mow-friendly. Stay away from sharp angles and tight corners when creating new beds and instead focus on straight lines or broad curves. To ensure your garden is mow-friendly, lay out a garden hose to form your border and make sure the curves are smooth and gradual enough to mow around with ease.
7. Ensure a range of heights. “Go tall in back; medium in the middle and low in the front,” says Tesselaar. “But don’t line them up like a school photo. Think of overlapping drifts.”
8. Include evergreens, ornamental grasses and foliage plants for year-round colour and texture. Red Fountain cordyline, for instance, has become a favorite for warm-climate gardeners with its cascading mass of grass-like, bright-burgundy leaves spouting from a short central base,” says Tesselaar. Ornamental grasses add colour and texture all year long, as do a variety of evergreens.
9. Select plants with strong form and colour. “One or two kinds are enough, and repeat them throughout the border,” says Anthony Tesselaar. “For instance, try the tall, broad-leaved, colourfully foliaged Tropicanna cannas for season-long interest and a dramatic effect that looks great in any combination of plants.”
10. And finally, never underestimate the value of mulch! Applying mulch is ultimately the most important time-saving and labor-saving measure you can take. Regardless of the type of mulch used, it helps to hold in moisture and discourages weeds. Organic materials include grass clippings, shredded leaves, pine needles, shredded bark, wood chips and newspaper. As a bonus, organic mulches enrich the soil as they decompose. Inorganic options range from black plastic and landscape fabric to stones and gravel.
For more information
Anthony Tesselaar Plants