It’s quite common to read garden design articles where the designer writes about planting in drifts. But what is drift planting?

Quite simply drift planting is placing groups of the same type of plant together and then repeating those same plant groups. You can do this in curving, informal patterns, along and within a border containing other types of plants.

Using several of the same types of plants throughout a plant border creates a peaceful and harmonious feel in the planting scheme. As the eye will glide across the area rather than jumping around a jumble of different plants.

It doesn’t matter if your plant borders are large or small, or your garden style is traditional or modern. The concept is the same and it’s an easy way to create impact.

Best types of plant to use in drift planting

The types of plant that work well are mound-forming ornamental grasses such as Stipa tenuissima ‘Pony Tails’ (Mexican feathergrass), perennial plants that produce masses of flowers like phlox or asters. Also, groundcover plants such as Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’ (Golden marjoram).

It’s a great way of creating maximum impact in the border, especially if using a brightly-coloured perennial that flowers for months on end such as Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (Hardy geranium).

Mexican feathergrass for planting in drifts
Origanum vulgare is a great planting option for drift planting
Geranium 'Rozanne' adds colour to drift gardens

Areas where drift planting can be used

Flower borders


Slopes and banks


How many plants should be grouped together?

It’s generally recommended that odd numbers of plants should be used in the drift groupings such as 3, 5 or 7.  The odd number creates an irregular, more relaxed looking shape, which in turn gives the impression of a more natural arrangement.

After all plants naturally occurring in the wild rarely grow in a straight line!

An example of a drift garden design

The other advantages of drift planting

Drift planting is low maintenance, as plants grouped closely together tend to cover large areas of bare earth, which in turn can cut down on weeding.

When larger numbers of the same plant are flowering en masse it makes it easier for pollinating insects to find.

Mass planting with the same plant can make it quicker and easier to fill the flower border quicker as it simplifies plant choices!

For a garden design that looks natural and effectively distributes colour and variety, consider planting in drifts.

For some great autumn planting tips:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas: