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Easy CareEasy-care plants : Mixed borders

Trees, shrubs and flowers planted together in a mixed border are easier to look after because they fill in the space, denying room to weeds. The overall ornamental impact of using the various plant types together is much greater than restricting the types to their own kind, as in herbaceous borders and shrub borders.

Trees, even just one or two, can be used at the back of such borders with shrubs to fill in beneath, and in front of them. Around the shrubs and in front of them in turn, the perennial flowers provide colour and lush foliage to contrast with the hard stiffness of the woody plants. Annual flowers, bulbs and even roses can be used at the front of mixed borders to add further interest.

Mixed borders

Mixed borders

In a mixed border, it is possible to have two layers of foliage covering the soil over most of the area, which reduces the work of weeding. Shrubs and perennial flowers can be used to hide areas of bare ground beneath trees at the back of mixed planting.

Weedkillers can be used to keep down weeds around trees and shrubs where there is no under-planting of perennial flowers. Where there are perennial flowers, bark mulch is a good alternative.

Compared to a flower bed, or island bed, a border requires edging only along the front edge. In small gardens, it is usual for borders to back onto the boundary. In large gardens, they might back onto internal boundaries or areas of tree planting. Borders with gentle curves have the advantage over straight borders that the edging need not be so frequently attended to without looking unkempt.

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