Ideas for landscaping with roses

Six stylish ways to use as many roses as possible in your garden. These ideas should help you design a garden and landscaping with roses. 

1. Arches and arbours

Rose-covered arches work best when the arches have a purpose, like defining a garden path or leading from one section of the garden to another. Use an arbour to screen a wall or as a focal point.

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How to do it

  • Plant a climber on either side of an arch or arbour. A single plant will not grow up, over and down the other side.
  • Twine and tie the stems around the structure. The more horizontal the stems, the more flowers will be produced.
  • Neaten climbers in August. Loosen the ties, cut out old stems, shorten existing stems if necessary and retie them onto the arch or arbour.
  • For large arches or arbours use ‘The Ridge Rose’ and ‘French Panarosa’; for small to medium arches or arbours try Midinette climbing roses.

2. Containers

Don’t confine rose-filled containers to small gardens or where sunshine is limited. Use them in any size or style of garden as a feature, under windows, next to a wall, as a focal point within a rose bed, at the end of a driveway, at an entrance and in any place where you want a wow factor.

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How to do it

  • Landscaper Karen Gardelli of Creative Containers is known for her sumptuous containers of roses. She shares some tips:
  • The bigger the container the better, especially if it’s accommodating a climbing rose or two or three roses underplanted with annuals.
  • The container must have large drainage holes. Cover the base with bidem, then a layer of stones or pieces of broken terracotta pots, a layer of washed river sand and finally the potting soil. Ludwig’s Planting Mix is recommended.
  • Refresh the potting soil every year after pruning. Remove as much of it as possible without damaging the roots and refill with new potting mix. Alternatively push a stake into the container and jiggle it to make a hole right down to the bottom. Make four or five holes and fill the holes with Ludwig’s Planting Mix.
  • Water containers every day irrespective of whether there is rain or not. Fertilise twice a month. In very hot weather, water the outside of the pots as they become very hot.

3. Walls

Walls provide necessary structure in a garden but can be stark. Make a feature of a wall by softening it with roses, especially if you like the effect of flowers and foliage against weathered stone, brick or plaster. Unsightly walls can be completely obscured by roses.

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How to do it

  • Vigorous climbing roses like ‘Crème Caramel’, ‘Cherry Garland’ and ‘Pink Cloud’ will cover a wall in a season. Provide support with a trellis or wire and tie up the canes with plant ties.
  • For a screen or hedge in front of a wall, plant Panarosa varieties or free-standing climbers close together.
  • Soften a terrace or retaining wall, with roses that have cascading or arching growth like the ‘Granny’ roses and low-growing shrub roses like ‘Adele Searll’, ‘Amarula Profusion’, ‘The Fairy’ and ‘Tawny Profusion’.


Ludwig Taschner of Ludwig’s Roses says “Plant roses 30–45cm from the wall. Prepare deep, large holes with plenty of compost to accommodate the extensive root systems. Climbers and Panarosas are generally more disease-resistant, low-maintenance varieties that just need regular watering and fertilising.”

4. Driveways

Create a welcoming entrance by planting standard roses underplanted with perennials or annuals along the length of your driveway. Alternatively, use the tall, vertical-growing Spire roses that produce pickable, hybrid tea blooms. This planting of dark pink ‘Electron’ roses and ‘Simplicity’ roses underplanted with New Zealand flax, gazanias and alyssum defines the driveway and still allows a view into the rest of the front garden.

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How to do it

  • Space standard roses 1–1,5m apart, with two bush roses between them. A good combination is standard ‘Iceberg’ with ‘Burgundy Iceberg’ underneath.
  • Standard roses in different colours should be underplanted with roses in a different single, uniform colour.

5. Mixed borders

Roses add star quality to a flower-filled border. Besides the blooms, which are the main attraction, roses vary in height, which allows them to be used in the front, the middle or at the back of a border. The different bush shapes such as upright, rounded, spreading or arching, also make a statement within a border. Standard roses allow for free planting underneath and add height and depth to a border.

How to do it

For height use roses from the Spire range at the back of a border.
Plant bush roses in groups of three at intervals throughout the border. This has more impact than a single specimen unless it is a large shrub or Panarosa variety.
Train a rose up a pillar or obelisk as a feature within a border.

6. Small spaces

In a small garden, fewer roses used cleverly will create an impression of abundance.

How to do it

  • Use the same or similar coloured roses in different ways that is, in a bed, container, on an obelisk or as climbers to create a feeling of harmony in the garden.
  • Show off your roses with complementary plants like silver, chartreuse or gold foliage plants and clumps of flowering perennials and annuals.
  • Check the mature height of the rose; it should not be overshadowed by other plants or grow too tall or broad for its space.
  • Use compact hybrid tea or floribundas for bedding, mini-shrub or profusion roses for containers and Midinette roses as climbers. In this garden (pictured above) groundcovers alyssum and lobelia are planted under ‘Red Flower Carpet’ roses.
  • Keep everything to scale, especially features like pots, arches and gazebos that shouldn’t be too large for the space.