How to Use Perennials as a Walkway Border

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A lush perennial border that runs along one or both sides of a walkway can enhance your landscaping, provide color to the path and create visual beauty on an otherwise flat, level area around your home. While many kinds of perennials can be used for your walkway border, you'll want to select a plant that matches the light available and is low maintenance while still providing a hardy or floral look. Once you have selected the perennials you want to use, you can dig and plant your walkway border in a day.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Select flowering perennials for your walkway if you want a colorful look around your home. Popular flowering perennials include day lilies, salvia, bearded iris and phlox. Choose herb perennials to add fragrance to the border with lavender, woody basil, rosemary, scented geraniums or mints. Stick with shade plants if light around your walkway is an issue by using hostas, bugleweed, astilbes and monkshood.

  • Design a planting layout along your walkway from planting in a straight line to staggering shorter plants to be set in front of the spaces between taller plants behind it. Creative planting may also allow perennial varieties to grow taller as the walkway moves toward its destination, such as setting creeping thyme near the beginning of the walk, day lilies near the middle and butterfly bushes at the end.

  • Measure the length of your walkway to determine how much space you need to cover. Look over the spacing requirements of the plant type you have chosen. Divide the length of the walkway by the distance needed between plants to determine how many plants to buy.

  • Dig a trench with a shovel 12 to 18 inches wide and 1 foot deep alongside your walkway to form the border. Remove any rocks or debris as they are uncovered. Replace half of the soil with compost and mix with the remaining soil to fill in the trench.

  • Remove any pots from your plants and dig holes in the soil to the size of the plants' root-balls. Set the perennials into the individual holes and firm the soil around each one. Use the spacing needs of the plants to place them far enough apart for healthy growth year after year.

  • Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch throughout the border area to cover not only around the base of your plants, but also over all loosened soil. Water the plants regularly once or twice a week as needed, to keep the soil moist over the first year when the plants are establishing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use these planting method as a basic guide; however, if your perennials specifically call for deeper digging, no mulch or a variation on watering frequency, then follow the actual needs of your plants.
  • Keep the height of your plants in mind if using more than one variety of plant and position the shorter plants closer to the walkway so they can be seen.
  • If working with more than one variety of flowering perennial, be sure to select plants that bloom at the same time for a dramatic show, or bloom times that vary for constant blooms along your walkway throughout the growing season.

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References

  • "Landscaping: Principles & Practices"; Jack E. Ingels; 2004
  • "Grounds for Improvement"; Dean Hill, Jackie Taylor; 2007
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