Tips for an environmentally friendly, beautiful planting border

Plant for your space

Plants that are suitable for the soil and light will thrive in their space. That means healthier plants which need less watering and interventions.  

Have flowers all year round 

Having flowering plants which flower in different seasons will help pollinators and make your garden look great. 

Plant for the night life

Plants that release their scent in the night will attract moths and bats, and make the garden scented for you into the evening.

Plant a tree

Trees can add so much to a garden! They lift your eyes up and beyond the boundary lines, giving a sense of space. They are good for the environment, for shade, for privacy, for wildlife and add significant beauty and calmness to a space.

Go a bit wild

Leaving an area of the garden a bit wild can encourage native plants, and give a home for wildlife. A decorative log pile can look interesting and be good for insects and mammals. 

Plant perennials

Perennial plants come back year after year. This means they save you money, but also help the environment. Annuals bought new every year will need to be transported across the country.  There are beautiful annuals which can be grown from seed to reduce their environmental impact. 

Buy peat free

Peat lands store carbon, control flooding and create homes for wildlife and it’s vital that we reduce the use of peat in gardening. Peat free composts can be nutrient rich so they’re a great way to grow on your plants. 

Plants for a wildlife friendly garden


Decorative grasses can add a softness to a border and look great when a breeze rustles through the flowerheads. Their forms can be left over winter and provide shelter for wildlife. Some of my favourite grasses include 

Stipa gigantea a tall grass with a see through effect; 

Hakonechloa macra a green mounded grass, good for shady areas. 

Melica uniflora f. albida a delicate native grass good for dry shady areas.


Perennials come back every year, meaning lower maintenance for you. Plants with single flowering petals are better for bees. There are a huge selection of perennials which are great for wildlife and grow in most gardens. For example, Geranium ‘Orion’, Campanula glomerata ‘Caroline’ and Verbena bonariensis are loved by pollinators. Some plants will release scent at night, for example, Lonicera periclymenum (honeysuckle) can attract elephant hawk-moths and Jasminum officinale (Jasmine) is attractive to pollinators in the day and dusk.  


Many residential gardens are smaller, but they can still have a tree. These three suggestions all have flowers for pollinators and fruit for birds and mammals.

Amelanchier laevis ‘R.J. Hilton’ is an upright Amelanchier with pink buds that open to white flowers, followed by black berries loved by birds. 

Crab apple trees, for example, Malus ‘Butterball’ has yellow fruits which are held on the plant until winter.

Sorbus commixta ‘Olympic Flame‘ is an upright, narrow Rowan with great autumn colours.

There are many thousands of plants and it can seem a bit daunting when choosing the ones for your garden. Rockhopper Garden Design can help identify the right plants for your borders based on the light and soil conditions, saving money and making a garden that works for you and nature.  We can also supply plants and often with a wider, cheaper selection than nurseries. 

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