A Conversation for Spicing up Your Patio

Stop watching TV gardening design programmes immediately is the best advice.

Post 1

I'm not really here

Second best depends on how much work you want to do.
Containers can be great fun, but they are extremely hard work to make look good. They can be planted up to create year round colour and interest, but they need to be looked after, fed, watered and protected from frost.
Herbs in containers are probably the most useful, just outside the back door for instant access, and they can be brought into the kitchen when it gets too cold.

Having honeysuckle or another scented plant growing around the patio can make it very pleasant to sit out on a sunny day or mild evening, especially if you've managed to fit a bench or chairs there too.

Water features are possible, wall fountains can be mounted on a trellis on the wall and take up hardly any space at all, or you can have a container pond. I do believe I've just written a project that mentions these. smiley - biggrin

I'm not too keen on plastic chairs, although if you don't have a lot of time for the garden they can be useful. They don't rust or rot, leave them upside down on the patio and the seats stay dry. I prefer wooden furniture for outside, but they need treating and looking after. Plastic tables are not very sturdy, or steady. Or is that just the cheap ones?

If the patio is very shaded by walls or fences, there are lots of plants that like shade, although I've noticed that they seem to grow very slowly. If it gets no shade at all, there are lots more plants that will love it, sheltered and sunny, you could grow a lot of exotic plants, although you'll need rooom for them indoors somewhere in the cold weather.

If you've got kids, don't put anything expensive, valuable or delicate behind the 'goal', or in the way of tricycles or bikes. Or skipping ropes. Try to keep one end fairly clear for the kids to play, and make sure that you keep the plants that are poisonous well away!

If you want to know exactly which plants to plant, ask me when I have more time!

Stop watching TV gardening design programmes immediately is the best advice.

Post 2


i can assure you i have never watched a tv gardening show smiley - smiley sound advice, i'm sure as i've managed to get this far without them.

flowers are a great way to draw attention. attention of passerby, bees and other insects, and birds and assorted wildlife. pay attention to where you plant things (or put plant pots) if you surround a dining area with floral, you're likely to be bothered by bees while you try to eat.

if you like to put on a good show without putting out a lot of effort, annuals are a good way to go. buy them in the spring, plant them after the last frost, and they will flower all summer long with no maintenance whatsoever. all you have to do is water them, and mother nature takes care of that from time to time. then in the fall the first frost will likely kill them, you simply cut them down and dispose of them.

perrenials are a little more work, you have to care for them year-round as they come back year after year. you can change the look of annuals by simply planting different varieties in different locations every spring, but perrenials will come back the same every year if you take care of them. how much care varies depending on what kind of plants you have.

flowering trees and or bushes is another way to go. trees will normally bloom in the spring, then after losing their blooms provide shade for the rest of the summer.

i used to keep a bird feeder on a shepherd's hook in my yard, but stopped that when i was continually cleaning up bird poo off my patio furniture. plastic patio furniture is popular for the simple fact that it is affordable and care free. it also all looks the same and comes in only two colors. my patio furniture is aluminum. the table has a glass top and the chairs have woven seats and backs on painted aluminum frames. they stack for easy storage, and i have a big patio umbrella that can shade the entire set.

we also have a grill, so we have several outdoor cookouts every year. we've got some nice refillable patio torches that will burn citronella oil to keep mosquitos away in the evenings as well.

then we put up seasonal decorations around everything else as the holidays come and go. as a matter of fact, we just dug out the haunted house sign yesterday to put up next week some time. smiley - pumpkin

Stop watching TV gardening design programmes immediately is the best advice.

Post 3

tacsatduck- beware the <sheep> lie

I think the way you decorate your porch should be based on what you will be doing back there. I am a practical kinda person though. I enjoy a good wooden swing bench. Also I always leave the sunniest part of the porch open so I can make sun tea. As far as a grill goes I have always had a back yard (well until now) so we would move the grill away from the house to limit the amount of smoke (if something went wrong) that went into the house.
smiley - chick

Stop watching TV gardening design programmes immediately is the best advice.

Post 4

Barneys Bucksaws

I have this never-ending dream of having a really lovely yard. We live in a condo, which is more like a row-house, in Canada - land of really hot summers, really cold winters, and roughly 4 months growing weather. Everyone bravely goes out just before the 24th of May, and plants up a storm in our tiny front, and back yards. Our back yard is on the south and gets REALLY hot. The irises run amok, and the lillies do really well in the flower bed. The rest out back is pots - on the fence, and edge of the patio block. I grow trailing petunias in the fence baskets, portulaca and petunias in big flower pots. My trailing geranium gets tossed out for the summer, and trails off the step and onto the patio. The patio itself is a lovely collection of: gas barbecue, moped, lawn mower and 3 square feet of extra space. Oh for a big yard and a shed! We tell ourselves its too hot to use the back yard anyway. The front is on the north, and shady almost all day. Out there the columbine is taking over the yard, with help from the bleeding heart by the step. The umbrella table goes out there, and lawn chairs, behind a trimmed caragana hedge. Pots of petunias, and a bed of johnnie-jump-ups complete the front garden. We're going to put paving stones at the front, and move the barbecue around, perhaps next summer.

Stop watching TV gardening design programmes immediately is the best advice.

Post 5

Felonious Monk - h2g2s very own Bogeyman

My advice, for what it's worth, is to keep the area flexible. A patio is an outside room to all intents and purposes, and you wouldn't want to make a room in your house unusable by erecting immovable concrete monstrosities in it, would you? smiley - winkeye Use it as a dynamic, reusable canvas to experiment with different placings of plants and other features.

To this end, make good use of containers, as previously suggested. They can be moved around to fit in with your current living arrangements. Get some self-watering ones if you can't be bothered or on hand to water them daily. I don't have a patio now but I have done in the past, and what I found to be really effective was to plant some night-scented plants in containers. Night-scented stock(Matthiola bicornis) and tobacco plants (Nicotiana affinis: the original species only, not coloured hybrids!) are ideal for this. Then you can open the patio doors on a warm evening and let the glorious scent drift into the house.

if you like scent during the day, try using the natural warmth of the patio to grow plants that would otherwise be too tender for our winters. The myrtle (Myrtus communis) has an incredible fragrance from both its leaves and flowers on a hot day. Then, in winter, you can move the plant indoors.

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