Designing Beautiful Borders

October - time to take stock.

 Autumn is a really good time to take stock of your garden. The herbaceous perennials may be starting to die back, but the borders still have that "full" look. This allows you to see the garden as it is, giving a clearer view on which parts are working and which parts need changing.

Some plants will have grown too big for their space, where other plants failed to perform as expected. There also may be plants which simply look "wrong" where they are currently sited and need moving to a better spot.

Trying to make the same decisions in spring is more difficult, as many plants don't start to emerge until later in the season and won't reach their full size until mid to late summer. This makes it hard to see the garden as a whole and where any changes need to be made.

Having given your garden the critical eye, autumn is also a very good time to move and divide plants, as the soil is still warm from the summer. Warm soil aids root growth which leads to better plant establishment. It is also generally rainy enough to provide the plants with plenty of moisture, so they don't need too much additional watering, whilst the roots settle in.

Plants that are in the wrong place can be moved to a new location. They need to be dug out carefully and planted at the same depth as they were previously. Firm the soil around them and water in well.


Herbaceous plants which have outgrown their space can be divided into smaller plants. How you do this generally depends on the size of the plant. Big clumps need to be prized apart with forks (see the previous blog “Multiple Divisions") smaller plants can be teased apart from the main clump and replanted.




For borders that are still flowering, any changes you want to make are better made in spring. Label each plant that you want to move or divide before the foliage completely dies down, and make some notes that you can refer back to in spring. This is definitely on my job list for the week!


Plant lables- more reliable than memory!