Best Border Backbones

When you're planning a garden border, it's crucial to include plants that provide constant visual interest. Here are tips for choosing trees, shrubs and perennials that create structure and maintain year-round interest.
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When you're planning a border, it's crucial to include plants that provide constant visual interest. These support the plants that look interesting for only a short time. Here are tips for choosing trees, shrubs and perennials that create structure and maintain year-round interest:

Trees—Choose trees that have more than one season of interest, such as pretty spring flowers plus good fall foliage color and/or interesting bark.

Shrubs—Choose shrubs that remain attractive over a long season. Pay attention to the shrub's leaves, bark and shape—more so than its fleeting flowers.

Perennials—Concentrate on foliage shape, texture and color. Skip the perennials with an early spring bloom.

If you follow these guidelines for choosing the majority of the plants in your border, you'll have a strong backbone against which to place annuals and perennials that are much more fleeting in their beauty.

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Keep your perennial border healthy with The Well-Tended Perennial Garden (Expanded Edition).

When size matters, see 400 Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces.

Browse outstanding gardening tools, including fine forged shovels to help you plant your border.