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The 16 Best Edging Plants to Finish Off Your Garden

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Whether it’s alongside a path or a bed of flowers and shrubs, edging plants give your garden a more finished look. They soften the hard boundaries of walks and pavement, define garden beds, and add another layer of beauty and color to your yard. The best edging plants are compact and low-growing because they’re used at the front of borders, but any plant can be used for this purpose if it’s repeated and planted in masses along the edges of a space.

When shopping, choose plants that are appropriate for the conditions. For example, does the area receive full sun, which is considered 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day? Part sun, which is about half that? Or is it mostly shade? If planting perennials, make sure they’re suited to your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here) so they’ll survive winter and come back next year. Adding a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch of any kind, such as shredded hardwood, bark chips or pine straw (or whatever is commonly available in your region), also helps conserve moisture and keep down weeds, so you can spend more time enjoying your garden and less time on chores.

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The Best Edging Plants for Your Garden:

best edging plants sweet alyssum
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1. Sweet Alyssum

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Sweet scent, color from spring to fall, attracts pollinators

This low-growing annual comes in pure white, pink and purple and is a charming, long-lasting edging plant along garden beds or cascading over retaining walls. Bonus: Pollinators, such as butterflies and hummingbirds, love it too.

best edging plants delosperma
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2. Delosperma

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Fast grower, color shade range

This cute creeping perennial comes in white or neon colors such hot pink, yellow and orange. It prefers sandy or well-draining soil and loves, loves, loves the heat. Because it’s a succulent, it’s drought tolerant once established. Delosperma is also a fast grower and should double in size the first season it’s planted.

best edging plants lamium
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3. Lamium

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Low maintenance ground cover, rabbit resistant

Plant killers, take note: This low-growing perennial thrives on neglect. Its foliage has a pretty silvery tint with white, pink or purple flowers in late spring.

best edging plants marigold
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4. Marigold

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Reliable flowers, long season color

These sturdy annuals have been a favorite for generations because you almost can’t kill ‘em! They’re inexpensive, bloom until a frost, and look smashing lining a walkway for low-maintenance color all season long.

best edging plants stonecrop
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5. Stonecrop

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Low maintenance succulent, cold-hardy

Stonecrop is a hardy perennial that survives in even the coldest zones. There are many different creeping varieties with chartreuse, bright green or burgundy foliage. Tiny blooms usually appear in early summer.

best edging plants cranesbill
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6. Cranesbill

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Low maintenance, delicate flowers, rabbit resistant

Also called perennial geranium, this perennial is extremely cold-hardy and easy to care for. Its foliage has a spicy-sweet fragrance, while small flowers float above the greenery in early spring. Some varieties bloom throughout the season.

best edging plants catmint
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7. Catmint

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Low maintenance, deer and rabbit resistant

Catmint is a reliable perennial with purple spikey blooms that last for weeks and weeks. Many new varieties have been introduced in the last few years, so look for one that keeps its compact and tidy form without sprawling.

best edging plants coral bells
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8. Coral Bells

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Gorgeous foliage, rabbit resistant

The frilly, ruffled colorful foliage is the reason to grow this perennial. Coral bells, also called heuchera, come in every color of the rainbow from lime green to dark burgundy. The teeny spikes of flowers in midsummer are insignificant, but the foliage is stunning.

best edging plants lavender
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9. Lavender

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Fragrant, romantic flowers, can be dried or used in cooking

With its scented foliage and flower spikes, lavender is a lovely perennial for edging beds and walkways. With many different varieties available, be sure to choose one that can thrive in your hardiness zone.

best edging plants creeping thyme
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10. Creeping Thyme

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Fragrant herb that attracts pollinators

Creeping thyme is one of the most resilient plants you’ll ever find. It doesn’t mind poor soils, withstands drought and spreads rapidly. Pollinators love the tiny flowers in late spring and early summer. Of course, you also can harvest it for cooking, making it a useful addition to any garden.

best edging plants ladys mantle
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11. Lady’s Mantle

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Old-fashioned favorite, deer resistant

This cottage garden perennial has tons of tiny chartreuse flowers in late spring. The scalloped foliage is pretty and low maintenance, and the blooms make great cut flowers.

best edging plants creeping jenny
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12. Creeping Jenny

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Trailing form, cold hardy, rabbit resistant

The delicate disc-shaped foliage of this perennial makes a splash as an edging plant. It’s an easy-to-grow groundcover in almost any type of soil. The foliage ranges from pale green in shade to bright chartreuse when it’s exposed to more direct sunlight.

best edging plants day lily
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13. Day Lily

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full sun
  • Why we love it: Easy to grow perennial, many different colors

Day lily is the one flower you should grow if you can’t grow much else. This is a taller perennial that still works well as an edging plant along walks or flower beds. The flowers come in every color from lemony yellow to hot pink. Although each flower only lasts a day (thus, the name), there are many on each stem.

best edging plants creeping mazus
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14. Creeping Mazus

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Fast-growing, low maintenance perennial

This fast-growing creeping groundcover has pretty purple or white flowers in late spring. Its tiny leaves make a dense mat that can handle some light foot traffic, so you can plant it between pavers or steppingstones.

best edging plants thrift
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15. Thrift

  • How much sunlight it needs: Part to full sun
  • Why we love it: Attractive foliage, cute ball-shaped flowers

This underutilized perennial has the most adorable teeny ball-shaped flowers that float on long stems above grassy mounding foliage in late spring and early summer. It prefers sandy soils and cool summers.

best edging plants ferns
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16. Ferns

  • How much sunlight it needs: Full shade
  • Why we love it: Feathery texture, easy to grow, shade lover

Ferns are some of the most versatile and interesting perennials to plant alongside shady sidewalks because they’re available in so many different varieties. They’ll take some morning sun but prefer mostly shade, especially in hot climates. Plant several different types for visual interest, then mass them along borders.



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Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...