The Best Tall Tree Shrub Border Plants

Written by sara john
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The Best Tall Tree Shrub Border Plants
Plant selection for a garden border should be done carefully. (hydrangeas image by Ruslana Stovner from

A garden border can help create a polished, finished look to a landscape. It is an essential element and should be carefully designed to avoid unnecessary problems. Growers should be especially picky when selecting border pants. Take into account soil and climate conditions, as these can have especially damaging effects on plant growth. Select tall trees or shrubs for shade, privacy and to add texture or colour to the landscape.


Hydrangea shrubs are a widely used variety that offers lush, glossy foliage and vibrant flowers. It is a hardy variety that will do equally well in sun or partial shade, and is a favourite for filling in spaces under large trees. These plants prefer nutrient-rich soil with good drainage, though a slightly acidic soil will make the flower colour change. Once the hydrangea has established itself in the environment, it requires little work to stay healthy. It is generally a mild-climate plant, so does not tolerate extreme hot or cold. If hot weather persists, make sure to give additional water. The flowers come in a variety of colours -- white, pink and yellow are among the most popular. These flowers grow in large clumps and will stay healthy for several weeks.

Fountain Butterfly Bush

The Fountain Butterfly Bush (Buddleia alternifolia) can be grown as a large shrub or small tree. It originated in China, but today can be found growing throughout much of the United States. The Fountain Butterfly is a hardy grower and will survive most climate and soil conditions better than others of the same species. The Fountain Butterfly is normally grown as a shrub, but if not pruned, may reach as tall as 15 feet. It has a pendulous look to it, making it a visually interesting plant for a border. It produces long, green foliage and thick clusters of purple flowers. To grow well, these plants prefer some shade or full sun, nutrient-rich, pH-balanced soil and moderate amounts of water.

Kentucky Coffee Tree

The Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is a cold hardy variety that will do well throughout most of the United States. It will grow to be between 75 and 100 feet, with a trunk that averages 2 feet in diameter. These tall trees will provide lots of shade and a visually interesting border plant for the yard. It is a late spring bloomer and produces white flowers in early or mid-May. In order to do well, the Coffee Tree will require an area with full sun and deep, nutrient-rich soil. Once established, it will withstand drought and pollution problems, and require little care from the grower. Special care should be taken with this tree around animals and people, as the leaves and seeds may be toxic if ingested.

American Sycamore

The American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) may grow to reach as tall as 90 feet and is favoured for its hardy growth even in unfavourable conditions. It has become useful in areas that have been strip-mined and even aides in soil recovery of contaminated oilfields. For homeowners, these properties can be put to use in areas that don't drain well and are frequently flooded. Since it grows to such a large size, it is best to plant away from foundations and sidewalks, as its roots may cause damage over time. It produces a speckled white-grey bark and large leaves. If chosen for a border plant, growers may be in for some massive cleanup, as it will drop twigs and leaves during dry periods.

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