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Creating the perfect herbaceous border with topsoil

Digging Topsoil

If you love the beautiful herbaceous borders on display at the UK’s great flower shows and would like to replicate the effect in your garden, then you’ll need topsoil.

Herbaceous perennials – the plants that come back year after year to form the backbone of your border – have hungry roots, so preparing your soil before you plant is the key to success.

What is a herbaceous border anyway?

Herbaceous borders are filled with perennial plants and shrubs that come back year after year.

They can be informal and rambling – think English cottage garden – or formal and dramatic.

Once established, your plants will come back year after year, dying back in winter and then putting on a spectacular

show through spring and into the autumn.

Enrich your borders

To create really happy and healthy herbaceous borders, you’ll need to put some effort into preparing the soil in your

border. First, dig the ground over well and remove any traces of perennial weeds that will steal much-needed nutrients from your plants. Now you need to enrich the soil that your perennials are going to live in for years

to come. Add perlite and vermiculite if your soil is heavy and needs drainage. If you’re starting a border from scratch,

add plenty of rich topsoil to give your plants the best possible start.

If you want to enrich your existing soil, then dig in plenty of compost.

Evergreens and summer colour

If you want your border to look beautiful all year round, start with some hardy evergreen perennials as a backbone

to your planting. Then you can add your flowering perennials and bulbs, keeping taller plants at the back of the

border and ground cover plants as edging. However, if you really want to surprise the eye, add pops of colour or

taller plants in unexpected places.

Border control

Once you’re happy with your planting, and you’ve watered your plants in well, add a decorative bark mulch to retain water and smother weed growth.

As plants establish themselves you may need to lift and split particularly dense clumps to give them a new lease

of life or to grow as container plants in a mixture of good topsoil and compost. Keep your perennials dead-headed, pruned as necessary and well fed with a regular compost mulch and you’ll enjoy your herbaceous border

for years to come.