5 Fillers To Make Your Garden Look Mature

First-year gardens often seem weak and too spaced out, but these 5 fast-growing garden fillers will give you a fuller-looking garden.

Gardeners want their spaces to feel lush, healthy, vibrant and full. But gardens in their first years often seem weak and too spaced out. Planning gardens requires knowing proper spacing, but in that waiting period things can appear a bit lackluster.

Welcome to my own personal garden where I walk you through the first year of my front yard garden. In the video above, I show you the ways I chose annual fast-growing fillers and some materials to hold the space while the foundation plants mature.

Foundation Plants

Foundation plants are those that set the scene in gardens. They define the space and are mostly evergreen, maintaining structure year round. Examples in my garden are trees, azaleas, boxwoods, ligustrum, loropetalum and abelia.

Foundation plants are often the bulk of expenses in gardens. These fillers, however, are all inexpensive and either fast growing or immediately ready.


Savannah and purple fountain grasses are highlighted in the video. These were $6 plants planted in the spring, and they provide so much height through the summer and into the fall.

Grasses are perfect for a dramatic effect because of their size and texture and really look like well-established older plants.

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In this video sweet potato vines are used as a quick-growing ground cover. This vine gives a lot more height and depth than average ground covers and really takes off in the heat.

Blackie” and “Margarita” are the varieties shown in the video.


One of the greatest annual seeds to plant for garden fillers are zinnias. They are extremely easy to direct sow, very productive and bulky. They fill space really well.

Zinnias often reseed in the same spot, coming back each year despite being labeled annuals.

Another great attribute about zinnias? The endless options. Zinnias have been bred so you can choose your favorite texture and color combination to match your garden color scheme.


Although these don’t grow, rocks make great fillers for garden beds as opposed to mulch. Not only do they add a different texture and color pop to the bed, they don’t seem as empty as mulch or dirt when there are not as many plants in the space.


You can gain immediate height and bulk using containers. While waiting for shrubs to reach the 3-to-5-foot range, just add containers to create the backdrop you need. When everything is hugging the ground, containers create visual interest year around.

A hack I use in the video is to plant a $10 emerald green arborvitae in a large container from winter to fall, then plant the tree out and start again. This allows me to buy trees very inexpensively, baby them through their first year and keep beautiful evergreen plants in containers. 

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