Optimum patio design is a result of proper planning. It also involves a flair for color and a connection to the surroundings and use of the patio. You don’t have to trust your patio landscaping to someone else though, every homeowner can contribute to their own backyard paradise by following a few simple rules.
Do your research.
Choose plants based on their mature size and arrange them with that in mind. A massive shrub planted beside the sliding door is not the best option, nor is a tiny plant at the back of a border. Consider the height and width, as well as the form of the plant. Don’t be afraid to mix up forms, like columnar shrubs with low growing flowers and rounded bushes – just make sure your overall design is pleasing to the eye and doesn’t damage, distort or distract from the use of the patio. Also make sure that every plant you choose is hardy to your planting zone. Local garden centers do not carry zone hardy plants exclusively, so when in doubt, check. You don’t want to be digging up your landscape plants when the temperatures drop.
Take plant color and texture into account.
Choosing a plant based on its appearance is important, but should always be coupled with size, form and of course hardiness. What good is a gorgeous red blossom if the oversized shrub needs to be constantly trimmed or it succumbs to the first cold winter?
Choose colors in an overall theme to create harmony and visual interest. Look at the buildings and fixtures around your patio – brick, siding or stucco color and texture, lighting and shutters as well as the patio materials. Go with plantings that compliment or contrast with the surrounding colors. Choose foliage texture that works with hard landscaping elements. A delicate leaf planted beside a heavy, bold flagstone is an attractive contrast, while flat, smooth leaved plants would compliment it well. Be sure to take into account spring and fall foliage habits (does the spring bloomer die back in June or the leaves change color?), bloom schedule and even winter appearance. A well designed landscape is beautiful all year round and in any weather.
Plant in groups of 3, 5 or 7 – this gives your patio an ordered feel but also helps to direct the eye and create balance. Stray from this rule with large, focal point plantings. Just one spectacular bush, shrub or flower is striking.
Think in three dimensions when planning your backyard landscape. Creating different levels on your patio will open new design possibilities, including raised beds, waterfalls, sweeping stairs and terraces. Choose a corner of the patio and install another level a few steps up. This can become a nook for privacy and relaxation, an entertainment area or simply another garden with an entirely different focal point or color scheme. Breaking up the patio in this way should be done carefully, with traffic flow and space in mind. Don’t make your patio too busy.
What better way to garden near your kitchen or patio door than with herbs and vegetables? These dinner table staples are handy planted just steps outside your door. Choose a large container for an aromatic herb garden or install a raised bed in a sunny spot to plant rows of vegetables. You will find it much easier to tend to your kitchen garden when it’s incorporated into your patio.
With a well thought out plan, a few simple steps and a load of your own personality, landscaping the patio in an attractive way will add immense value to your home. Your backyard will become an oasis and living space will extend outdoors. The patio will truly become your playground.
Want to learn more about patio gardening?
Visit these websites for more information on landscaping your patio.
HGTV has some great tips and ideas about arranging containers in the landscape.
Learn how to work with a small space and create a wonderful garden on a patio or terrace.
Get patio landscaping ideas from videos and images of actual backyard gardens.