Choose type of display.
Three types of displays are commonly used for perennial gardens—the border, the island bed and the naturalized area. A border is a cultivated area that bounds an expanse such as a lawn, walkway, driveway or wall. if it is flush against a wall or hedge, the border should not be any wider than 4 to 6 feet for ease of maintenance. For a wider border, plan a narrow path between the wall and the garden for access. The path will be hidden from view and will improve air circulation behind the tallest plants, which should reduce disease problems. For a pleasing relationship between the depth of the border and the size of the yard, do not allow it to exceed one-quarter of the total width of your yard.
An island bed is a cultivated area surrounded by an open expanse, such as a lawn. It is accessible from all sides, which makes it easier to maintain. It admits more sunlight and encourages better air circulation. This type of display can break up large, open areas.
You do not need to segregate perennials in the garden. Many can be naturalized along a stream, in lowlands or in dry meadows so that they look as if they are part of the natural landscape. Some can be naturalized in lawns or ground covers, and a number can be used as ground covers themselves. You can use many wildflowers and ferns in such locations.
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