Selecting plants for bordering or edging a garden or path can be just as frustrating as accessorizing a room or an outfit. You want the overall picture to look pulled together with your choices. I like to divide plants for this purpose into two divisions: compact and spreaders. These plants grow in the 3 foot and under height range. Compact plants are just that. They will grow within a defined space only getting slightly larger over the following years. If the area needs a strong barrier, consider a low growing shrub or grass such as Hameln Grass, Spiraea Magic Carpet, Cotoneaster Coral Beauty, Hypericum Blue Velvet or the dwarf Nandina Firepower as they will work hard year round to keep the garden defined.
Spreaders and drapers will creep into the garden mixing with the other plants or spill over the edge of the garden bed. They will work well in any garden, but can really show their talents when planted along the edge of a multi level garden. Along the edge or border of a garden is a key spot to introduce additional colors and textures. If the primary color of the garden or landscape is green, for example, edge the bed with contrasting color plants such as Heuchera Plum Pudding or Black Mondo Grass. If the garden is alive with lots of color, then going low key would be more effective with something like an ornamental grass, liriope, thyme, lavender plants or dwarf boxwoods.
Here's a listing of plants that I have complied for these 2 divisions:
Compact plants for borders and edging:
Grass Hameln, Chives, Heucheras, Aster, Hostas, Ferns-such as Autumn Brilliance, Spiraea Magic Carpet, Lavenders, City Line Hydrangeas, Liriope, Armeria Dusseldorf Pride, Veronica Royal Candles, Cotoneaster Coral Beauty, Barberry Crimson Pygmy, Hypericum Blue Velvet, Nandina Dwarf Firepower, Daylilies, Sedums, Grass Black Mondo, Grass Acorus Minimus, Grass Acorus Gramineus Ogon, Potentilla Gold Drop,
Spreaders and Drapers:
Wooly Thyme, Red Creeping Thyme, Creeping Phlox, Creeping Rosemary, Elfin Thyme, Hypericum Calycinum, Drift Roses
This listing of plants should give you many ideas of what size, colors, and type of plants you can use for edging your garden or bordering your landscape. Don't feel limited to these varieties.
Be creative with plants. They offer so much color and texture. That's part of the fun and the learning experience of gardening.