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Best Plants for Paths and Patio Edges

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A pathway or patio in your yard or garden can be a great aesthetic boon to your home… but not if it’s surrounded by bare dirt or heavily trampled grass. The best way to make sure your new hardscaping addition looks great is to do some landscaping around it. By adding plants to the edge of your path or patio, you’ll be creating a beautiful, aromatic border that will encourage family members and home visitors alike to spend more time outside.

Of course, not every plant is perfectly suited for edging. You don’t want to choose large plants or trees that are going to encroach on the limited space you have and make you feel like you’re venturing through a rain forest. You also shouldn’t choose plants that are toxic, overly pungent, or have spiky edges (especially if you have pets or children).

So what should you plant, then? Your decision will in part be governed by your personal preferences and the region you live in, but here are a few popular choices to get you started. If you like the sound of any of the plants below, be sure to ask your landscaper if the plants would work well for you.

Creeping thyme. Homeowners often choose to plant this herb along flagstone paths because it’s okay if the plant gets a little trampled—in fact, it releases a pleasant scent when this happens. It’s also a great choice around the edge of a backyard patio because you can simply walk outside and pick the herb when you need to season your cooking. Creeping rosemary is another popular choice in the same vein.

Miniature brass buttons are a carpeting perennial that grows small green leaves in tight clumps, making it a good choice for edging. It’s also known for being virtually indestructible, withstanding heavy foot traffic and shady areas. One thing you should note is that it will likely go dormant during hot, dry months, but will green up again when watered.

Creeping jenny. This plant creates a lush green ground covering and is incredibly easy to grow. It also requires very little maintenance beyond occasional pruning to keep it from encroaching on your path or patio. If you’re interested in planting creeping jenny (also known as creeping moneywort) you should first check with your local extension office, as it is restricted in some areas.

Sedum. If you want to brighten up your hardscape, sedum is a great little plant. There are many different varieties, and their small flowers come in orange, pink, red, or white. As an added bonus, they attract butterflies while they’re blooming, bringing even more natural beauty to your home. They do best in well-drained, well-lit areas and can’t handle much heavy foot traffic, so you’ll need to plant them strategically.

Geraniums. This popular plant is quite hardy, blooming for months and producing saucer-shaped flowers in blue, pink, and white. It can handle both sunny and shady areas and grows in many different types of soils. If you want a particularly bold, vibrant look, choose bloody geraniums, which produce a red flower.

Keep in mind that this is just a small sampling of the many great plants available to you. Remember to talk to your landscaper and sketch your ideas on your site plan so that you can figure out what will work best with your existing space.

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  • Ryan Crownholm
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