Line pathways or outline planting beds with these beautiful, low-growing varieties.
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Edging your landscape creates a crisp, finished look. Traditional landscape edging material, such as brick, stone, or steel, does a fantastic job of keeping plants in the bed while keeping the lawn out. But lining this type of edging with plants can help soften their hard look. Or you can just use lower-growing plants to outline planting areas. As the frontline of your garden beds, edging plants need to look good no matter the season or the growing conditions nature throws their way. The best edging plants thrive in the conditions of the planting site, unfurling new flowers and foliage from spring to fall. Bonus points go to plants that contribute to the winter landscape as well.

colorful garden path
Credit: Ed Gohlich

How to Use Edging Plants

The best plants for edging your landscape catch your eye and lead it forward. You can use edging plants to help direct foot traffic in your yard, calling attention to a path, for example. Edging plants around a flower bed help add excitement to a space or clearly define it from other nearby features. Edging your beds with one type of plant also provides a consistent frame around a garden, while the inner parts of the growing space change through the seasons.

How Much Sun or Shade?

Select the best plants for landscape edging based on the amount of sunlight your space gets. Wherever the sun shines directly for eight or more hours a day, full sun plants will perform best there. Is the bed shaded enough that it gets less than eight hours direct sunlight a day? If so, choose plants that prefer growing in shade or part shade. Use the following lists of edging plants for sun and for shade to find the best picks for your landscape.

Edging Plants for Sun

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Credit: Gabriela Herman

Boxwood

One of the most elegant options for landscape edging is evergreen boxwood. Choose dwarf varieties such as 'Morris Midget' and 'Wee Willie' to create a tiny and tidy hedge along the borders of your garden beds. Shear your boxwood annually to maintain their shape and size. Boxwood varieties vary in hardiness but generally will grow in Zones 4-8.

Lavender Vista daylily
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

Daylily

Graceful mounds of green foliage make daylily a solid landscaping edging choice for spring through fall. The plant sends up colorful flower spikes in midsummer. Choose from varieties in shades of yellow, orange, red, and pink. Most are hardy in Zones 3-10. Keep plants tidy by trimming away flower stalks after blooms fade.

Lady's Mantle
Credit: Blaine Moats

Lady's Mantle

This beautiful perennial produces tidy mounds of scallop-shape, green leaves. The fine hairs on the foliage catch water and dewdrops, often adding a little extra sparkle. Lady's mantle blooms in early summer with clusters of tiny, chartreuse flowers. This low-growing plant makes for an elegant landscape edge in Zones 4-7.

Lavender
Credit: Laurie Black

Lavender

Thriving in bright sun, heat, and drought, lavender makes a tough and fragrant bed edge. This herb is hardy in Zones 5-10 and evergreen in warmer areas. Harvest the purple, blue, or white flowers for bouquets or drying.

Sundial Fuchsia Moss Roses
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Moss Rose

Dry conditions and hot sun don't faze long-blooming moss rose. An annual with jewel-tone flowers, moss rose expands rapidly to create a colorful mat of flowers and foliage. Growing just 6 inches tall, it is perfect for edging beds of low-growing plants.

Purple Emperor' sedum
Credit: Richard Hirneisen

Sedum

Clumping, upright sedum varieties such as 'Matrona' add fall flair to the landscape and create a neat edge for taller plants behind them. This perennial holds up well to heat and drought. Most sedum varieties are hardy in Zones 3-10, and the flowers attract pollinators. 

Pink thrift flowers
Credit: David Speer

Thrift

This pretty perennial produces tidy mounds of grassy foliage. Rounded clusters of bright pink or white flowers bloom from late spring to early summer. Thrift loves full sun and very well-drained soil in Zones 3-9.

variegated lemon thyme
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Thyme

Fragrant and full of flavor, thyme creeps to form a mound of foliage that decorated with pink or white flowers in summer. Low-growing thyme is a helpful edging plant in front of low growing perennials or in an herb garden in Zones 4-9.

orange zinnias with butterfly
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Zinnia

An annual that is easy to start from seed, zinnias are available in many colors and sizes. Shorter, dwarf varieties or seed mixes such as 'Thumbelina' or 'Short Stuff' mix make colorful landscape edging.

Edging Plants for Shade

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astilbe
Credit: Karlis Grants

Astilbe

Feathery flower plumes and fernlike foliage make astilbe a pretty addition to any shade garden in Zones 3-8. This drought-tolerant perennial's tidy shape also makes it a good choice for landscape edging. Flower colors include white, pink, and red.

epimedium, barrenwort or Bishop’s Hat
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Epimedium

A top pick for edging shady landscape beds, epimedium (also called barrenwort) is a perky little perennial that blooms in spring with spidery flowers in shades of pink, purple, orange, yellow, and white. Many varieties have attractive foliage that turns bronzy in autumn. This tough plant also is drought-tolerant and hardy in Zones 5-9.

Begonia Dragon Wing Red
Credit: Denny Schrock

Begonia

An annual with lots of flower power, begonias grow best in well-drained, rich soil and warm weather. 'Dragon Wing' selections grow 12 to 24 inches tall while many other varieties stand less than 12 inches tall.

coleus 'pineapple splash'
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

Coleus

This annual's colorful foliage will wake up a sleepy shade garden. Many coleus cultivars and color combinations are available. Some also will grow in sun. Pinch these fast-growing plants back as needed to maintain the best height for edging your garden bed.

Northern maidenhair fern
Credit: Matthew Benson

Ferns

Thriving in moist soil and part shade to deep shade in Zones 3-9, many ferns make easy-care edging plants. Choose low-growing types for the front of a garden bed. Note, some ferns spread quickly. Be ready to divide ferns when they begin encroaching on nearby plants.

hellebore
Credit: Richard Hirneisen

Hellebore

Leathery evergreen foliage and late winter or early spring flowers are the hallmarks of hellebores. Plenty of exciting varieties offer beautiful blooms in white, cream, pink, rose, bicolors, and even nearly black. Hardy in Zones 4-9, plant several of the same variety for a consistent bed edge.

Pink Heuchera
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Coralbells

Gorgeous foliage in shades of green, yellow, and burgundy, topped by delicate flower spikes in summer, make coralbells a high impact edging plant. This tough perennial grows in dry conditions and a variety of soils in Zones 4-9.

Hosta Blooms
Credit: Julie Maris Semarco

Hosta

Low-growing hostas such as 'Blue Mouse Ears' and 'Chartreuse Wiggles' make excellent edging plants for a shady garden bed. Hardy in Zones 3-9, hosta leaf colors range from chartreuse to bluish. Varieties with variegated leaves will add extra brightness to the garden, while solid hued foliage will create a sense of calm.

Japanese forestgrass
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Japanese Forestgrass

One of the few grasses that thrives in shade, Japanese forestgrass forms compact mounds of gracefully arching foliage. Also called Hakone grass, this perennial makes a tough, drought-tolerant plant for landscaping edging in Zones 5-9.

variegata lilyturf liriope
Credit: Doug Hetherington

Liriope

A classic edging plant in warmer regions, liriope (also called lilyturf) is a tough but showy perennial. Wands of small, purple flowers punctuate the grasslike, evergreen foliage in summer in Zones 4-10. Look for variegated varieties for an extra splash of color.

Tips for Planting Landscape Edging

Underestimating the mature size of a plant is a frequent mistake when selecting and planting all types of plants, but it's especially problematic when it comes to edging plants. Take lavender for example. In a 4-inch nursery pot at the garden center, it's hard to imagine lavender could expand to 24 inches wide in a couple of years. A large clump of lavender is a welcome bed edge if you plan for it when creating your garden. Bottom line: carefully read plant tags and space plants according to their mature size, not the size they are when you purchase them.

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