17 Apr Sunny Borders

Gardening books and magazines are filled with lavish photos of gorgeous sunny borders. You might think that creating these impressive landscapes takes deep pockets and an army of professional gardeners. Not at all! Having the right plants as well as some basic design skills is all you need to get started. You, too can transform your landscape into a blooming masterpiece.


Keys to Success

The first key to success and perhaps the most important, is placing the right plants in the right places. Sun loving plants will not do well in shade and vice versa. While the basic requirements for a sunny border are quite simple – plenty of sunlight and lots of good soil – how do you provide the perfect combination? To have a garden filled with endless blooms, your plants will need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Most times this means an area with southern or southwestern exposure.

As you search for the perfect spot. don’t overlook “problem” areas. A sunny border may provide just the solution you’re looking for. Consider placing your garden along a fence or and evergreen hedge. Or perhaps along the garage wall. And just because borders are usually rectangular in shape, it doesn’t mean yours has to be. Experiment with different shapes. Crescents, ovals and circular sunny border beds are all options.

After you’ve found the perfect location and decided on your preferred shape, check your soil quality. A nice sunny spot with bad soil will only lead to disappointment. Most plants perform best in soil that is rich in organic material and that drains well. Test your soil to see if you need to make amendments. If your beds are lacking, dig in some rich compost and manure.


Colorful AnnualsPlants

Don’t forget to leave room in your design for some of your favorites. If you love roses, add some. If larkspur and peonies remind you of your grandmother, plant them. Work larger plants into your design early so they’ll have the space they need to grow and flourish. Along with your favorite perennials, be sure to plant some bulb plants, shrubs and annuals. Doing so will extend the blooming season of your garden. Begin with early bloomers such as daffodils, crocus and tulips. Overplant with early season annuals such a primrose, pansies and stock. Planting these will also help cover up the spent foliage of your spring bulbs until the perennials and shrubs begin to bloom. Continue to freshen your border by adding summer blooming annuals and finally fall plants such as mums, asters, cabbage and kale. Plan ahead so you have a continuous wave of color.

For the greatest impact, choose fewer varieties and plant more of them. The general rule in landscaping is to plant odd numbers of a particular plant and set those plants close together for greatest impact of color and bloom. Be sure to adapt the amount of plant material you use to the size of your sunny border bed. Too many plants will result in overcrowding and ultimately failure.



While laying out your beds, pay attention to plant heights. Group your plants so the taller bloomers are towards the back. You want every plant to be shown to its best advantage. Most plant tags will provide all the information you’ll need for proper placement. Work from the back of your border forward. Lay out your plants while they’re still in their pots. This will allow you to visualize your finished garden. You’ll also be able to make any necessary adjustments before planting.


Finally, finish your sunny border with a garden feature. Gazing globes, garden benches and birdbaths are perfect for adding that special touch. Garden accessories are also the perfect way to add a focal point and make the garden uniquely yours. Have fun!