How to Transform Your Landscape
with Border Plantings

Welcome to the lush world of landscape design! Let’s dive into the art of using plants to create borders. Lucky for you, the First Editions® collection is full of plants that will add structure while providing multiple seasons of interest.

Cobalt-n-Gold Hypericum planted along a garden border

What Are Border Plantings?

Border plantings are the unsung heroes of landscape design as they frame your garden beds, pathways, and outdoor spaces. The magic of border plantings is that they define those boundaries to create visually interesting gardens that are easy for our eyes to take in. Border plantings are typically made up of a variety of plants planted in a row along the edges of garden beds or pathways. These plants can vary in height, texture, and color, creating a dynamic and visually appealing border that enhances the overall aesthetic of your landscape.

Choosing the Right Plants for Borders

Selecting the perfect plants for your borders is essential for achieving your desired look and feel for your landscape. While perennials, annuals, and groundcovers are great options for planting along a border, there’s nothing quite like a shrub border. Shrubs are versatile additions to border plantings as they provide structure, height, and year-round interest to your landscape. Shrubs that are more compact, have dense foliage, and tidy growth habits are perfect to use along a border.

To help you decide what is best for your space, we’ve compiled a list of the best plants for use along a border from the First Editions® collection.

Autumn Inferno Cotoneaster planted along a garden border

Autumn Inferno® Cotoneaster

Autumn Inferno Cotoneaster is not only an excellent plant for borders, but it’s a great drought-resistant plant that provides vibrant fall interest. Hardy for Zones 5-7, the clean, green leaves turn a striking red in the autumn. Adding to that late-season interest are the bright red berries that form along the stems. Plus, the berries stay on the plant until the birds come and take them, so there’s no mess involved. This versatile plant matures at 5-6 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide and is perfect for formal and naturalist garden designs. It can be pruned and used as a formal hedge or left to grow naturally to create privacy with its beautiful arched shape.

Cinnamon Girl Distylium in the landscape

Cinnamon Girl® Distylium

With plum-purple new growth that turns blue-green as the leaves mature, Cinnamon Girl® is an excellent choice for those looking to add interest to garden borders. Hardy for Zones 7-9, Cinnamon Girl® matures at 2-3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide, making it a great low-growing shrub for borders. It’s just a bonus that it’s deer-resistant! Read this blog to learn more about Cinnamon Girl®, why we call it a Rock Star plant, and for ideas on where to plant Cinnamon Girl® in your space.

group of Crimson Fire Fringe Flower planted in the landscape

Crimson Fire Fringe Flower

Crimson Fire is a compact, red-leaf fringe flower perfect for gardeners in Zones 7-9 who are looking for a stunning border plant. While it’s a warm-climate shrub, it also has proven cold tolerance. When other red-leaf varieties have been severely damaged during rough winters, Crimson Fire has come through unharmed with minimal tip burn. This well-behaved plant has controlled growth and doesn’t throw out rangy stems, so you can count on it to stay at its mature size of 4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Crimson Fire is covered in bright pink flowers in spring that are highlighted by the dark foliage and is even deer-resistant.

close up of white Sweet Star Gardenia flowers

Sweet Star® Gardenia

If fragrance is what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with a garden border of Sweet Star® Gardenia. Hardy for Zones 7-9, Sweet Star® is covered in single flowers starting in early May, followed by excellent rebloom throughout summer. As flowers fade, they are followed by pretty orange fruit in fall. Sweet Star® is nicely compact, maturing at 3-5 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide, and has glossy green leaves that serve as a lovely backdrop to the crisp white flowers.

close up of green and red leaves of Lucky Leu Leucothoe

Lucky Leu® Leucothoe

New to the First Editions® collection in 2024, Lucky Leu® Leucothoe is a low-maintenance shrub that thrives in both sun and shade, with the species being native to North America. Small white flowers accent peach-orange new growth in spring before evolving into medium-green leaves. Reaching a maximum size of 3-5 feet tall and wide, Lucky Leu® maintains its shape with little to no pruning, making it an excellent choice for tidy, compact garden borders in Zones 6-9.

Little Hottie Panicle Hydrangeas in the landscape

Little Hottie® Panicle Hydrangea

This one is for you hydrangea lovers! Little Hottie® is a compact panicle hydrangea that will shine as a border plant. It was specifically bred to keep brilliant white panicle flowers even during those hot summer days. Maturing at only 3-5 feet tall and wide, Little Hottie® is covered in blooms that will stay white in the summer and age to antique shares of white and pink when the fall temperatures drop. We also recommend planting Little Hottie® in decorative pots. Its compact size makes it a perfect addition to pots on your patio, porch, or front entry. Watch our video on Little Hottie® to learn even more about this stunning shrub.

Jade Parade Sand Cherry with white flowers in the spring

Jade Parade® Sand Cherry

Another fabulous shrub that provides multi-season interest to garden borders is Jade Parade® Sand Cherry. Hardy for Zones 3-7, Jade Parade® wakes up the garden in spring with small, white, fragrant flowers that cover the stems and are irresistible to garden pollinators. The glossy blueish-green leaves are accented by small black cherries in late summer before the leaves turn shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. Jade Parade® matures at 2-3 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide and has a spreading habit with branches that arch upwards. That habit, paired with its tolerance to being planted in full sun and dry conditions once established, makes Jade Parade® an ideal plant choice for those who want a low-maintenance plant for their garden.

Border plantings are essential elements of landscape design that add structure, beauty, and functionality to your outdoor space. By carefully selecting the right plants and incorporating these elements into your landscape, you can create a cohesive and inviting environment that reflects your personal style and enhances your outdoor living experience.

You can shop the First Editions® collection online during our shipping season and also use our Find a Retailer tool to locate First Editions® shrubs at garden centers near you. Remember to tag us on social @firsteditionsshrubstrees if you plant one of these shrubs and sign up for our newsletter for monthly inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to your inbox.