The Q&A Archives: Border plant

Question: I have a long sidewalk going from the driveway to my front door and I want to dig out a border and plant something along the sidewalk that will stay green all through the winter ? Also along the front of my windows I want to plant some kind of p bush[maybe dwarf holly bushes]During the summer months the front of my home has direct sunlight..Thanks,dave

Answer: Here are a few suggestions for your sunny border:

Creeping phlox is commonly used as a rock garden plant but works well in borders, too. It forms a dense mat of moss-like foliage, which is covered in spring with masses of flowers in either pink, purplish or white. It is a plant for full sun and relatively dry soils. As plants age, they may tend to develop occasional dead spots. Periodic division to fill such spots may be necessary. In mild climates the plants are evergreen, but where winters are cold and plants are exposed, browning may occur.

Lily-turf (Liriope spicata, muscari) Lily-turf is a grasslike evergreen. There are two species commonly used in landscapes; Creeping lily-turf (Liriope spicata) grows 10 to 12 inches tall, forming clumps of dark green, straplike leaves that create an interesting texture in the landscape. In late summer it produces spikes of purple to white flowers, which eventually form clusters of black berries. Creeping lily-turf spreads aggressively by sending out underground stems and can get out of bounds if not contained.

Blue lily-turf (Liriope muscari) is similar in appearance to creeping lily-turf but grows taller (18 inches) and has wider leaf blades. It also produces spikes of blue flowers, but spreads less aggressively than its creeping cousin.

Liriope will grow in either sun or shade. It prefers moist soil with high organic matter content. It will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but grows more slowly in clay soils. In north Missouri, leaves of both species may look brown and tattered by spring. Appearance can be enhanced by mowing or cutting the plants back to remove unsightly foliage.

Creeping thyme (Thymus serphyllum) is a mat-forming perennial with tiny leaves, producing rounded purplish flower heads about 4 inches tall. Stems are woody at the base and spread gradually to form a mat up to 3 feet in diameter.

Wooly thyme (T. pseudolanuginosis) is a prostrate plant with tiny, hairy leaves, staying less than one inch tall. If produces few flowers but provides an interesting texture in the garden.

Thymes require a well-drained, sunny location. Unlike most ground covers, they will tolerate some foot traffic and are commonly planted in cracks between stone steps or pavers.

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