Daisy-like flowers of sprawling erigeron planted with purple heuchera

Plants for the front of a border

We pick 10 of the best plants for growing at the front of borders and beds.

Border fronts or edges are spaces where shorter plants can put on a show without being crowded out.

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They’re a near essential addition, too. They can be used to soften hard edges by gently spilling out of border plots, while hiding the bare stems of taller plants growing behind.

Of course, if you prefer a neater, more contained look, low-growing hedges of yew or box could be planted. For something less conspicuous, you could try using willow edging. Discover how to plant a yew hedge.

To complete your border, be sure to check out some of our favourite plants for growing in the middle of a border, and at the back of a border.

Take a look at some of our favourite plants for growing at the front of a border.

If you prefer a neater, more contained look, low-growing hedges of yew or box could be planted.

Sedums

Cultivars of Sedum spectabile and Sedum telephium are ideal for growing at the front of borders. To provide contrast with other plants, consider growing a purple-leaved cultivar like ‘Purple Emperor’ or ‘Karfunkelstein’. Perfect for providing autumn colour. Find out how to plant sedums.

Purple sedum foliage contrasting against bright green
Purple sedum foliage contrasting against bright green

Pulmonarias

From early to mid-spring, pulmonarias will perk up borders with their pretty flowers. Once the flowers are past their best, the spotty foliage remains to extend the interest. They can be grown in sun or partial shade, where they’ll form a handsome clump.

Pink pulmonarias
Pink pulmonarias

Coreopsis

Coreopsis are easy to grow and, with a bit of deadheading here and there, you’ll have a long season of colour. Most of the commonly grown coreopsis such as Coreopsis verticillata and Coreopsis grandiflora have yellow flowers, but you can also find types with pink and red blooms. Other brightly coloured blooms to try include zinnias and nasturtiums.

Golden-yellow coreopsis flowers
Golden-yellow coreopsis flowers

Alchemilla

Lady’s mantle, Alchemilla mollis, has gained a permanent residency in many gardens, owing to its robust nature, drought-tolerance and ability to grow in sun or partial shade. Itself an attractive plant, it also works well as a foil for other plants. Cutting back in late summer will produce a fresh flush of foliage.

Light-green flowers and ornate laves of lady's mantle
Light-green flowers and ornate laves of lady’s mantle

Hakonechloa

This fantastic grass produces dense swards of foliage that are perfect for softening the hard edges of beds and borders. Best grown at the front of a shady border, combined with other shade-lovers like hostas and ferns.

Fluffy flowerheads and light green blades of grass hakonechloa
Fluffy flowerheads and light green blades of grass hakonechloa

Nepeta

If you’re after a pollinator-friendly garden, catmint is near essential. Several catmints can be grown towards the front of borders, including Nepeta x fassennii, which has more of an informal, sprawling habit, while Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is more upright. For shadier areas, check out Nepeta subsessilis.

Purple catmint flowers
Purple catmint flowers

Sweet alyssum

A popular bedding plant, sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is a versatile plant producing masses of frothy flowers. Use it in rock gardens, Mediterranean gardens, coastal gardens and cottage gardens, growing it from seed each year.

Tiny white flowers of sweet alyssum
Tiny white flowers of sweet alyssum

Nasturtiums

Nasturtium-edged borders conjures up images of Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny. They’re extremely easy to grow and you can use the peppery flowers in summer salads and other dishes.

Orange flowers and large flat round leaves of nasturtium
Orange flowers and large flat round leaves of nasturtium

Hardy geraniums

Hardy geraniums are dependable perennials and their bushy growth makes them ideal candidates for growing at the front of borders and beds. Discover six plants to grow with hardy geraniums.

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Mauve hardy geranium 'Johnson's Blue' planted beside a pale grass
Mauve hardy geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ next to a pale grass

Erigeron

Erigerons work especially well as part of informal planting schemes, where they can be allowed to spread and sprawl. In doing so, you’ll be rewarded with masses of flowers that last for months on end.

Daisy-like flowers of sprawling erigeron planted with purple heuchera
Daisy-like flowers of sprawling erigeron planted with purple heuchera

Think about scent

Plants growing at the front of borders will be some of the closest to your nose, so do grow plants with scented flowers or aromatic foliage that you can brush past and enjoy smelling. 

Spade with wooden handle