A lifeless patio can quickly be transformed into a garden patio.
Patios with planters – trellised vines and baskets beaming with color from annual and perennials.
Together when this combination finds themselves strategically placed in an empty concrete patio an oasis emerges in the middle of any bustling city.
Ever so slowly the noise of cars and all the excitement that makes a city come alive melts away into a quiet place to relax.
It can be a patio or balcony but a place blossoming with life and color. Add some well placed outdoor landscape lights and the patio becomes a nightime place to party!
A blooming Bougainvillea tree or Tibouchina Urvilleana tree and container gardens full of color can welcome visitors to commercial complexes and make entrances to apartments and condominiums more friendly and inviting to guest.
Color is a powerful tool, especially where plants and nature play a part! The right blend of colors hiding inside flowers can awaken and add life to areas not usually associated with living plants.
This is often the case with the cold hard surface of concrete or brick patios and turning them into a garden is not as difficult as you may think.
It’s Not Landscaping – Think Patioscaping
Patio design using plants goes beyond adding a garden look and feel to a patio. The same design ideas and steps can be applied to an outdoor patio but also courtyards and walkways.
Don’t forget the pool and hot tub areas. If you step back and look you’ll discover patio-scaping has many opportunities to use hanging baskets and planters full of flowering plants.
The only limits you will face to create a garden on your patio is your designer’s imagination and budget for plants and containers.
Flower colors can be alluring and all the decorative planter designs on the market can make one go container color crazy. It is important to not underestimate the required maintenance needed.
Maintenance can be reduced and minimized with proper planning along with paying attention to the details. This will also keep any unexpected pitfalls or potential problems from showing up as the garden brings to take shape.
To make a patio simply irresistible all that is required is a sprinkling of colorful plantings on the patio placed elegantly. The reason is a no brainer.
Color is catchy! Color will give you the most bang for the buck. One word – COLOR – is what makes patios sizzle! For example, a patio with a “Desert Rose – Adenium obesum” in bloom always draws a response.
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One of the biggest benefits of patio landscaping is that it provides instant gratification. In a few hours you can quickly create a patio or balcony with a big impact.
There is no need for an involved process of bids and pricing on materials. Adding color does not take a lot of work planning and designing. Color can be almost instant.
The big smile on your face and sense of satisfaction from only a few hours work makes the appeal of containers and baskets an easy choice.
All of us can imagine how a boring unattractive entrance can have a completely new look and feel when only a few decorative pots full of flowers grace the entrance.
Containers also provide an easy way to upgrade an existing patio for style color and designs. Planters and containers come in both low and high-end materials along with low and higher priced selections.
Adding color to a patio and in general, patioscaping can be done in a few hours. The one area often underestimated is maintaining the plants in the containers on the balcony or patio.
The topic of watering happens to be the downfall of many a plant novice both indoors and outdoors. Watering – how much and how often is the great unknown. Weather can quickly change the moisture needs of plants in rapid fashion.
Heat waves of 90 degrees and above can cause plants to lose their moisture quickly and in turn put the plant in stress.
Quick down pours flood the containers cutting off oxygen to the root system and suffocating the plant. Overall a plant can change from looking great one day to be heading for the compost pile the next.
Landscape beds planted in the ground dry much slower than containers filled with plants and the potted plants usually need to be fertilized more often.
How often to fertilize depends on the plant variety use outdoors but some professionals who maintain patios or balconies and terrace gardens recommend fertilizing using a good general purpose liquid fertilizer every three-weeks.
If your schedule does not work with a regular fertilizer or maintenance program your best solution would be to use a slow-release fertilizer.
Part of a regular maintenance program will include periodic trimming or deadheading. This will be keep plants looking neat and clean and encourage a production of continuous blooms.
Let’s look at what is involved in a regular maintenance for a moment.
Plantings on patios – balconies and terraces and in pots in general require a lot more water. It’s often not possible to water three times per week on top of the other typical maintenance task required which include pruning and deadheading.
The best solution to handle the watering plants task is to install drip irrigation or use subirrigation pots.
This makes watering a simple task. Just fill up the subirrigation reservoir and keep a watch on the drip “sprinklers” to make sure they come on and are free of any clogs.
Drip systems can be placed on timers and automated to turn on every day or twice per day during hot days.
The designs in garden balconies or patios and patioscaping give lots of room for creativity and style. In fact the design possibilities of pools and patios make for practically limitless adventures of functional color and textures.
The Basic Design Rules in Patio Landscaping
With so many design possibilities even the professionals follow basic rules when designing the patio garden including containers.
- Materials and Color – Look at the property’s current design. What materials and colors would work best and enhance the existing layout.
- Project Budget – Does the project have any budget limitations? If so what are the priorities of “must have” items.
- Maintenance – Specifically watering plants. How will the watering be handled? By hand or with automatic irrigation system?
- Containers – Do the containers have drainage holes? If not can holes be drilled into the pots and planters?
When selecting plants take the time to carefully assess each plant and its needs. The designer inside of us usually needs to hold back when using colorful plants even though the temptation is great.
The reason this temptation is so difficult? Color! Color grabs everyone’s attention. It’s what catches the eye and stops people in their tracks.
Colors need to be based not on preference but each individual application and situation. One example blue tones are great around or near a pool. The blues give a calming and serene feeling.
Yellows – Reds and oranges are warm and bold and give high impact. On the other side that impact when the plants do not look good can give a completely different feeling.
No matter what the hot plants or current trends may be just like house plants you need to make sure the plants have the required elements for good health such as light.
Also when grouping plants together having the same cultural requirements is a big plus. This makes watering much easier with everything being on the same watering schedule.
When grouping plants you also need to take into account the rate of growth. Faster growing or more aggressive growing plants could crowd out or over grow the slower or smaller ones.
To create a well-balanced design use tall or upright growing plants. Next comes the medium height or mounding plants and finishing things off with trailing plants and elements.
If the surface is a flat wall or expanse don’t frame things but work like a triangle. Keep all of upright plants in the center followed with medium height plants and work out toward the edge with trailing items.
If a planter will be placed in a corner work the design from back to front. Taller plants and display items in the back with trailing elements in the front.
Proportion and texture are important elements in a patio garden and landscape design.
An excellent formula is to break things into 60/40 or thirds. Give the plants front and center stage aiming for 2/3’s or 60% of the overall design and let the planters pots and decorative containers show their stuff with the remaining 1/3 or 40%.
If the planter is the showpiece and focal point use simple plants (cigar plants) to accent the pot or container.
Often we focus only design elements – but don’t forget texture by itself as a natural design element.
Ornamental grasses can also be used to transform looks with texture and soft colors.
The plant and container choices almost endless it’s best to keep the garden patio changes limited.
Try to keep complete color and texture overhauls down to more than 2 to 4 times per year and change them with the season.
A year-round design would be great but a fall planting and spring planting often hits the seasonal times with the right amount of balance.
As spring turns to a hot summer and things begin to look a little unkempt a fall planting refresher is a good fit.
When changing things out for a fall planting include some evergreens for some winter enjoyment.
When planning color planting change out different plant selection can add some longevity.
Bromeliads are a good example. We have a tendency to think of Bromeliad plants only as indoor plants but there is a large variety of colorful landscape Bromeliads to choose from.
Over the years Rockefeller Center has used Bromeliads extensively during the summer for color.
Perennials will provide much more longevity than annuals keeping change outs down.
Along with plant and container selection in any patioscaping project there is one very important element that can make or break a project.
Yet for many DIY patio landscapers, little time or thought goes into the selection and it is critical for success. Soil selection of a quality well-drained soil or potting media is an important component.
Some soil testing may need to be done for your patio plant garden situation.
A rich soil may be fine for planting in the ground or for indoor plants but when going patioscaping where plants are outdoors exposed to the elements – moisture-holding capacity plays a big role.
If the soil dries out from infrequent watering or hot weather you must be able to rewet the soil.
You’ll need to learn exactly the “How To’s” of the soil. This involves:
- Moisture holding ability
- Other plant care and management practices
By combining the right colorful plants and soil – your patio can be the hot ticket for people to flock to at your home.
Planting The Planters – A Formula to Follow
Part of the pot plant selection process comes down to numbers. How many containers and how many plants go in those containers.
This is where the budget comes in! Getting the right balance can be a challenge but here are a few guidelines to consider to get off on the right foot.
Design plays a big part in plant quantity. When does the planter need to be bursting with color?
If a party is in 2 days then planting a little heavier may be needed. But keep in mind as a general rule the fewer plants in a pot the easier the maintenance or care will be required.
The plants will be in a confined space. This translates into limited water or moisture available and the same goes for nutrients.
Don’t be cheap and plant lightly. Give plants at least 1 inch between each root system or rootball.
This gives some room for each plant to grow some. Make sure you measure the planters inside diameter when calculating.
For example, if a planter is 14″ by 14″ inches inside diameter then 3 rows of 3 – four-inch pots could be planted and look full right away.
Also, remember that when selecting planters getting the right balance of looks is important but keep in mind that smaller containers dry out faster than large potted plants outdoors. Choose according to the design needs and situation.
When selecting containers don’t forget they need to be moved around. Don’t select a decorative container that when planted is too difficult to move if needed.
For the homeowner planters and containers in the 14″ to 20″ inch outside dimensions will work fine.
Larger commercial projects like you’ll see at theme parks can go much larger since they have the personnel to deal with big planters.
Down at the garden center or wherever you’re buying your planters and containers make sure you carry a tape measure!
Some manufacturers will provide both inside and outside dimensions others only give outside measurements. Make sure you are planning on inside measurements.
When planting make sure the soil is pressed firmly down around the plants and root balls.
Leave some room at the top of the pot – about 1″ inch or so to allow the water to puddle up and soak in well and not run right off the top of the pot. After potting any plants water the soil and the plants thoroughly.
As we spoke of above your best results will come with:
- Wise plant selection
- Quality soil
- Time-release fertilizer
Put these together and any patio can be filled with color to create an inviting retreat for you and guest. Get started patioscaping today.