How to Select Perennials for Edging

Edging your yard's walkways and paths with perennials is an effective way to increase their visual appeal. While nearly any type of plant can be used for edging, it is best to keep a few considerations in mind when making a selection. Hardiness, coverage, and appearance are a few of the aspects you should consider when you select perennials for edging your walkways.


  1. Image titled Select Perennials for Edging Step 1
    Choose perennials that can stand up to physical abuse. Plants that are used to edge walkways will likely have to deal with a lot of foot traffic. Hardy, resilient perennials will therefore be a good choice. Examples of perennials that can withstand abuse from foot traffic include lilyturf (genus Liriope) and brass buttons.
  2. Image titled Select Perennials for Edging Step 2
    Select perennials that provide thick coverage. Because plants used for edging will be in a high-visibility location, and because you want them to adequately conceal the path's edge, it is a good idea to select thick-growing plants. Great examples include English ivy, thyme, Bishop's weed, and bunchberry.
  3. Image titled Select Perennials for Edging Step 3
    Determine whether you want a compact or spreading perennial. Perennials for edging can be broadly grouped into 2 sizes: compact and spreading. Compact plants are great for providing a short demarcation between a walkway and a lawn; examples of these types of plants include lavender, aster, and black mondo grass. Spreading plants will cover much more area and are great for blending your walkway into a heavily planted garden. Good spreading plants include creeping thyme, creeping rosemary, and drift roses.
  4. Image titled Select Perennials for Edging Step 4
    Choose the color of your edging plants carefully. If you want your edging to blend in with the rest of your garden, choose a plant with a complimentary color (keeping in mind that perennials will not be in bloom for very long each year). However, if you want a dramatic, contrasting color for your edging, you could select plants such as black mondo grass or heuchera plum pudding.
  5. Image titled Select Perennials for Edging Step 5
    Edge your walkways with shrubs to add vertical interest. If you want to add visual interest vertically, you can edge your walkways with tall shrubs rather than low-growing ground covers. Hardy, low-maintenance shrubs include hydrangea, potentilla, and spirea.
  6. Image titled Select Perennials for Edging Step 6
    Consider your water and temperature constraints when selecting edging plants. Another major consideration when selecting perennials for edging is climate. Many ground cover plants (like English ivy) will tolerate a very wide range of conditions, which is why they are so popular as ground covers to begin with. Still, you will want to buy plants suited for your local climate. If you live in an area with low rainfall, consider drought-tolerant perennials like rock rose, bluebeard shrub, and pachysandra.


  • If you don't want to edge your walkways with plants, you can use stones, wood, or other non-living decorative features. You can also use individual stepping stones laid directly into a grassy lawn.

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Categories: Theme and Feature Gardens