So now we come to the best bit – with the hard landscaping finished it is time to think about the planting in your patio garden. I have already mentioned planting in paving cracks, but there are three other main ways to grow your patio plants – in borders, in raised beds and in containers.
If you have been able to create your own patio or terrace from scratch, then you may have incorporated space for borders in the design. You will need to incorporate some organic matter, such as compost or manure, into the soil in order to maintain moisture. Patio borders are often alongside walls and fences which may prevent rainfall from reaching the soil.
Borders and beds are an ideal way to grow patio plants, because plant roots have plenty of room to grow. However, if you have inherited an already paved patio, then this may not be possible – although sometimes a few paving slabs may be lifted to create a planting bed. Otherwise plants will have to be grown in raised beds or containers.
Raised beds can be made of a variety of materials, including brick, stone, concrete or timber, preferably to match the existing hard landscaping. The edge of a raised bed can often double as a seating area, and a raised bed can also be linked to other patio features such as barbecues or water features. An interlocking group of raised beds of different heights can look particularly effective. Raised beds have the advantage that you can fill them with your choice of soil – acid for Rhododendrons and Camellias or sharply drained for alpines or herbs. They also make maintenance easier for those with physical problems, as kneeling and bending are reduced.
Containers are the other option – and what a choice there is. Pots, urns, hanging baskets, wall baskets, tubs, flower pouches, troughs, window boxes and wall planters are just a selection of what is available commercially. And then there are the inventions of ingenious gardeners – old boots, redundant toilets, empty oil drums etc. Whatever you use there are a few golden rules to follow:
3. Make sure the material is frost proof if the container is to be outside in winter in frost-prone areas.