10 Outdoor Pathway Perennials

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10 Outdoor Pathway Perennials
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Once your garden beds are overflowing with plants and flowers, it may seem like you’ve hit a road block when you want to continue to put your green thumb to good use. Often-forgotten spots in your lush yard are pathways and entrance ways. Create a walkway like no other by sprucing it up with pathway perennials that can handle the foot traffic while complementing the landscape.

Creeping Thyme
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Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme leaves a spicy fragrance on a walkway and treats the eye to a variety of textures. Line the pathway to the pool or outline the bricks leading to the back patio with thyme. “Creeping thyme is a favorite,” said Allison Peck, master gardener from the Hawley, Pennsylvania-based Lodge at Woodloch. “It spreads nicely, but it is not invasive.” Low-growing thyme tolerates foot traffic, especially when surrounded by stones or pavers.

Woolly Thyme
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Woolly Thyme

For a pathway perennial that is easy to care for, opt for the lush greens of woolly thyme. This perennial requires little water but grows best with full sun and well-drained soil. Plant woolly thyme near sidewalks and stairs and watch closely as it stretches flat branches over the outdoor surfaces, softening the borders of the walkway.

Sweet Woodruff
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Sweet Woodruff

The often-forgotten herb sweet woodruff is particularly favored for shaded walkways. This plant makes a visually appealing ground cover, with white flowers shining through stones and pavers. “Deer do not eat this, so it is a great choice for the Northeast,” said Peck.

Sedum
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Sedum

Commonly referred to as stonecrop, sedum is one of the most durable and popular pathway perennials. These flowery plants have water-storing leaves, perfect for walkways with sufficient drainage. “Sedums are good choices for pathways,” said Peck. “They are hardy and tolerate winters well. However, be careful planting pathway perennials near an area where you will salt in the winter -- some perennials will not tolerate that.”

Daylily
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Daylily

For a hardy and colorful perennial, horticulturist Barb Whitcraft, of Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pennsylvania, recommends the daylily. “It’s very versatile, with short and tall varieties,” said Whitcraft. Daylilies are perfect for sunny pathways. If planted in large masses they form dense mats in just a few years. This rugged plant endures winters with little care.

Autumn Fern
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Autumn Fern

Add some color to your entrance way during every season with autumn fern. “With an evergreen foliage, it looks good through the winter with a nice bronze color,” said Whitcraft. The spreading perennial turns green in the summer and bronze in the fall and grows best on partially shaded pathways begging for a dramatic effect.

Hostas
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Hostas

If you are seeking variety and color for your pathway, Whitcraft recommends hostas as an ideal ground cover. The hosta "Cheatin Heart" decorates your walkway with clumps of bright yellow and heart-shaped leaves in direct sunlight. When planted in shady areas, the perennial’s color evolves into a deep chartreuse. The hosta "Fire and Ice" also has heart-shaped leaves with white centers and dark green margins. Plant "Fire and Ice" in shady areas.

Brass Buttons
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Brass Buttons

Don’t let beauty escape that stairway; instead let it creep right up on you with brass buttons, a creeping plant and durable ground cover. Within just a year, brass buttons typically form a tight, green carpet that requires minimal weeding. Black brass buttons feature foliage that is bronze and black, a perfect companion for pathway edges.

Rosemary
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Rosemary

For a pathway free from rocks, Bob Johnson, of North Carolina-based Wake Forest Herbfest, recommends rosemary. “They are wonderful for size, offer a fresh fragrance and do not require upkeep,” said Johnson. This herb commonly has purple, blue, white or pink flowers nestled within needle-like leaves. Rosemary is also an insect repellent -- an added bonus that keeps those little critters out of your pathway.

Beach Strawberry
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Beach Strawberry

Sweeten a garden pathway with the foot-friendly beach strawberry plant. This perennial grows well in mulched paths, showing off white flowers, red seeds and evergreen leaves. Beach strawberry plants spread into a ground cover that can grow in sunny or shady settings, even with dry soil. As an added bonus, many produce fruit to sweeten the deal.

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