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South Central Gardening: Plant a Pathway Border

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Planting a border by an existing sidewalk? Here are some tips from Lowe's South Central regional gardening contributor Dee Nash.

The author and her son built this sidewalk and border garden.
The border blooms in the middle of spring.

By Dee Nash

After my kitchen potager was built, it looked like all hard lines and square shapes. A curved path and border leading to the potager was just what the doctor ordered. Brick pavers would echo the potager's formal style, but curves would also soften it. My son and I laid the bricks in a running course, and it took us three days of spring break to finish. Yes, I paid him to help, and whenever I look at the path, I think of him and smile.

In 2011 I chose a clumping bamboo at the end of the border to obscure part of the view for a bit of mystery. I also chose a Salix purpurea 'Canyon Blue' Arctic blue-leaf willow. It nearly died last summer from the extraordinary heat, but it has returned, albeit in a much reduced stature. Remember that even in the best of seasons, new plantings require plenty of water.

The colors of coleus make for a hot combo with bat-face cuphea.

Because the border was new, I added many annuals to quickly fill in the space and provide color, height and form. Pennisetum purpureum 'Princess Caroline' is a grass I'd highly recommend. Celosia 'Intenz' grew better and larger than I expected and was a boon to bumblebees and other pollinators. I also made sure there was plenty of sun coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides). Because our summers are always hot, I rely on plants with sublime foliage color and texture. I can't depend upon blooms.

The border looks different in late summer!

Typically you don't want plants to spill over into the sidewalk but, in classic cottage style, I did. Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln,' a dwarf fountain grass, is great for this purpose. You can see its fuzzy texture.

The border changed dramatically throughout the season. Perennials and shrubs are now in their second year, but I'm still using annuals to fill in the gaps. This spring I saw that the other side of the path needed balance, so I bought a Juniperus scopulorum 'Wichita Blue' from Lowe's. Check out my video to see where I planted it and how.


See more South Central gardening articles.

How to plant a tree next to a sidewalk.