Designing Your Own Patio Garden Using Containing Plants
Have a lovely, fragrant retreat to welcome you at the end of a long day at work. A patio flower garden can be set up in an afternoon. Perennials will live for several years and are a one-time investment. Northerners can over-winter the plants by bringing them inside during the winter months. People who live in apartments will need to take the weight of the plants and the condition of the balcony into consideration.
Measure the patio and then buy the appropriate amount of green outdoor carpeting. This will cover any flaws in the cement as well as help to pull the look together. If you live in an apartment, then also measure the balcony railing to determine how many window boxes and railing holders you will need. Rummage through the kitchen and gather old, orphaned coffee mugs and other ceramics to use as flowerpots for the smallest plants.
A variety of colors and shapes will add interest to the patio garden display. A two- or three-shelf wire rack, or a corner wire rack, will enable you to display the smaller plants as a group. The roots of small plants could burn if they are directly on the cement all day in a hot summer, so look for a rack that has feet on the bottom to allow air circulation between the plants and the patio.
Choose planters for the larger plants by the size that will accommodate the mature plant. It will avoid having to transplant later. Yard sales and moving sales usually have great prices on flowerpots. Roses, jasmine, honeysuckle and gardenias are fragrant and colorful and grow very well as container plants.
You may want to place some green leafy plants, such as areca palms, in between the flowers. Greenery “offsets” the flowering plants in the garden and brings attention to the beauty of each blossom. Cascading flowers, such as begonias or vine roses, would be lovely in hanging planters or in window boxes on the balcony railing. You may want a planter of trailing ivy between the cascading flowers.
After selecting the plants for your patio garden, choose the appropriate potting soil and fertilizer for their needs. Buy a watering can if you need one. Patio garden plants dry out much faster than in-ground plants and need more frequent watering. A bag of mulch will help the soil to retain moisture. Put your new plants into their flowerpots and play around with the arrangement until your retreat is just the way you want. Toss dinner on the barbecue, relax in a lounge chair with a good book and a cold drink, and enjoy the fragrance and beauty of your retreat.
Creating a Patio Jungle
You can create a beautiful and productive patio jungle with container plants. This is a good solution for people who live in row homes, duplexes and starter homes with zero lot zoning as these homeowners have little more than the backyard patio on which to garden. The patio jungle includes flowers, vegetables, dwarf fruit trees, a hedge, climbing vines, herbs and spices, and a retreat for your lounge chair to enjoy your jungle.
Containers are an excellent way to grow food since the roots of the plants do not have to compete with weeds, pests or aggressive grass such as Bermuda grass. You do need to water them more often since all sides of the container are exposed to air; this results in the soil drying out faster.
Another benefit of container plants is the ability to extend your growing season, up to six weeks earlier in the spring and several weeks longer in the autumn. My personal experience is that ceramic and clay planters are better than plastic. Adapt the design for your patio jungle according to the size and location of your patio. If it faces north, you might find it helpful to have a double row of hedges on that side of the patio to cut down on the wind.
Attach trellises on one side of the patio (not the sunniest side so you don’t block light to the container plants). You can grow many things on trellises including vine strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, many kinds of beans, some varieties of squash, peas, and many flowering plants include vine roses.
Make tomato cages for the containers where you will be growing cucumbers, melons, grapes and, of course, tomatoes. The secret to getting a large crop yield from a small patio is to plant vertically and, yes, your neighbors will think that you have a patio jungle. Fill your planters with the foods that your family enjoys eating such as potatoes, onions, carrots, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, sweet potatoes, a variety of peppers, blueberries, pumpkins, garlic, mint, parsley, chives and many other herbs and spices.
Just about everything will grow in a container provided it is large enough for the mature roots and the plant is properly nourished and watered. Buy some dwarf fruit trees and place them in the sunniest part of the backyard or patio. Some dwarf trees grow only three or four feet high but many grow to between six and eight feet. These small size trees bear full size fruit.
Grow oranges, grapefruit, lemons, bananas, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, Persian limes, plums, figs, cherries and many more. Choose varieties for your gardening zone and be aware that some species require two of the same tree for cross-pollination. Take advantage of wrought iron shelf units to line with smaller flowerpots. They are great for expanding the capacity of your growing area and can hold plants such as parsley, scallions, chives, basil, oregano and several others.
Place a birdbath near or on the patio to help attract butterflies and bees. You need them to pollinate the plants or they will not produce food. Butterflies and bees are naturally attracted to water so a birdbath will bring them to your little jungle. Design an area for relaxation. Surround your lounge chair with rose bushes or your favorite greenery. Relax with some music and a good book, and watch your jungle garden grow.
Note: If you live in a temperate climate, many of the plants and dwarf trees can be over-wintered with grow lights. Just bring them into the basement and preferably place them on plywood or something other than the cold cement floor.