11 ideas for deck, patio and porch gardens

A deck, patio or porch creates an exterior living space that links your house and garden.

11 ideas for deck, patio and porch gardens

Select a uniform style for the floor, furniture, planting containers and plants that will harmonize with the overall look of your property.

Here are some tips for displaying and choosing plants.

1. Plant in levels

Place some pots and planting boxes on the floor and plant them with low growing, mounding plants that look good when viewed from above.

  • Use mounting brackets to secure window boxes to deck railings.
  • Hang baskets at standing eye level so the entire area has a strong sense of height.

2. Grow a natural screen

  • If you need privacy or shelter from the wind, edge the patio or deck with tall shrubs or use tall ornamental grasses, which remain attractive through winter.
  • For privacy on a busy street, use lattice panels planted with quick-growing vines.

3. Soften the edges

Surround your deck or patio with small shrubs to minimize hard edges while preserving the view.

  • Fragrant plants are especially welcome, but avoid those that have prickly leaves or thorns.

4. Create a garden amphitheatre

If your patio is sunken or at the bottom of a slope, surround it with a terraced garden.

  • Use complementary materials for stairs, paths and retaining walls, and plant the beds with a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers and ground covers.

5. Minimize mess

Keep plants that drop fruits or seedpods far from a patio or deck.

  • Cherry, mulberry, crabapple and other fruit will stain the surface and furniture, and nuts, catkins and other debris will need to be swept up.
  • Limit spills by keeping containers and plants out of high-traffic areas.

6. Clean stains from your patio

If you do get plant stains or even nasty rust stains on your concrete patio, here's how to get rid of them.

  • Mix unsweetened lemonade drink mix with hot water.
  • Scrub and the stain should come right out.

7. Planting on the porch

Whether screened, glassed in or open to the elements, a porch is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cool evening or sip your morning coffee.

Coordinating your porch furniture and plants will create a more inviting environment.

  • If you move tropical houseplants outdoors onto your porch in summer, rattan or wicker furniture will create a tropical mood.
  • Sleek contemporary furnishings look more at home with flowerpots filled with brightly coloured summer annuals.

A partially enclosed porch is usually safe for painted wood furniture. Here are some tips for planting on a covered porch.

8. Allow for air

Both you and your plants will be more comfortable if the porch is well ventilated.

  • Make sure a breeze can move through it or install an overhead fan to keep the air circulating.
  • Gently moving air from a fan will also discourage mosquitoes because they are weak fliers.

9. Keep a few year-round residents

Plants that may have trouble in an open garden may grow happily in pots kept on open porches. Try sempervivums and small hardy evergreen shrubs.

10. Make a convenient watering station

Watering the plants on your porch is easy if you take the time to install a spigot nearby.

  • Make sure any rugs and mats on the porch are water resistant.

11. Give plants a lift

Use tables, tiered plant stands, hanging baskets and cradle or trough planters to raise plants off the ground.

  • This makes small pots more visible, and many plants appreciate the improved air circulation, especially begonias, African violets and other humidity-sensitive specimens.
  • Plants raised off concrete surfaces are also less likely to be discovered by slugs.
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