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Advice needed please to see what plants to use

Hi All,

I have a long border of around 50 - 60 feet by around 4 feet wide which we're looking to plant out with low maintenance plants / shrubs / ground cover. At this stage, we're not too concerned about colours, etc but more about getting some plants in to stop weeds growing. We quite like the idea of taller plants towards the back of the border next to the fence with shorter varieties near the front. We have a dog, so it's important that none of the plants are poisonous. 

Could some kind person give us an idea of what to use please?

Attached is a picture of the freshly dug border for reference.

Many thanks


  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,623
    It looks like a shady site, is that correct? 
  • The garden faces South East (should have said that so apologies people) and the border does get some sun.
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,816
    edited 7 July
    As you say, shrubs will require the least maintenance. Choisya 'Aztec Pearl' would be a good one to start with, it takes sun or partial shade, isn't too fussy about soil, and can be kept trimmed to a rounded evergreen shape about 1.2x1.2m. Planting taller plants at the back and shorter plants at the front might not work in such a narrow bed, especially with shrubs, but you could plant with shrubs at a spacing that takes account of their eventual size, and add in perennials to grow between them for the short term.

    E.g. in the image below the red blobs could be your shrubs e.g. Choisya 'Aztec Pearl, Potentilla etc. (I've drawn them a bit close to the fence -try and imagine they are more central in the bed!) The blue crosses could be taller perennials dotted amongst them e.g. Verbascum/Foxgloves, and the green crosses some sort of low ground cover e.g. Geranium maccrorhizum. You have to make sure the perennials will not swamp the  shrubs (which are usually slower growing) so avoid very bushy ones, stick to upright growing or low ground covering types. Planting the shrubs at a large size will help.

    You could plant the shrubs at a wider spacing to give them more space to grow, but this means they'll take a bit longer to mesh together. 

  • Fantastic. Thank you very much. If we select the plants you suggested can you give me some idea as to the spacing to plant them please?
  • Can't have geraniums as they are poisonous to dogs so any other suggestions?
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,623
    I think you may be getting confused between hardy geraniums (cranesbill) and pelargoniums which are also known as geraniums. robust plants&text=Plant large, established perennials and,have the common name geranium).

    I don't think I have heard of cranesbill being toxic to dogs. 
  • I'm very new to all of this so do forgive me. I was going through the list of no-no plants on this website
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 12,247
    I think @Loxley has given you a good plan. If you try to repeat some of the plants it will give a good flow through the border.
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  • Absolutely. I've already just joined the Gardening Club in Enfield and hope to go and buy some plants this weekend or the following once I've weeded the area!
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,816
    I would ignore the dog's trust list, it's really unhelpful and gives a misleading impression of the potential harms of these plants. Most dogs won't eat the plants on the list, certainly in the quantities required to cause symptoms.

    It's probably fair enough to think carefully about species they have noted in bold text as 'potentially fatal'. Even so, most of them are profoundly unpalatable to dogs.
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