For some people, a small patio is the only outdoor living area they have access to. While such spaces often offer minimal space, it remains possible to transform your patio into a lush garden. Creating a patio garden comes with some challenges, and many gardeners do not know where to begin. That is why we have created this list of the nine best patio garden ideas. Read on to get some inspiration for your favorite hardscape area.
One of the main limiting factors when designing a patio garden is the lack of space. Patios are not typically large areas. They also tend to have furniture or other items occupying that limited space.
The only way to deal with this issue is to make the most out of whatever space you have. One of the best methods in that regard is to plant vertically. Here are a few of the best tactics for doing that:
- Select plants that are narrow and upright in their growth habits
- Grow climbing vines on a vertical trellis or another structure
- Plant in containers that take up minimal horizontal space
Those three approaches will help you to add lovely plants to your patio while maintaining adequate space for you to enjoy the area. With that remaining space, you can add furniture or other garden structures of your choosing.
Make Use of Containers
Along with the lack of space that is common in patio areas, there is another significant limitation that you will need to address. Since patios are hardscape areas, they do not afford you the opportunity to plant directly in the ground.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this problem. All you need to do is find a container to house your plants. But before you select a container, you need to make a few important considerations. Mainly, the container you choose should:
- Be large enough to accommodate the plants you wish to grow
- Have holes or a permeable material to allow for drainage
- Match your current patio elements in an aesthetically pleasing way
After you meet those three requirements, you can begin to explore the multitude of patio container garden ideas. That broad array of ideas is proof that containers give you great flexibility as you design your garden. Just make sure that you are selecting plants that will survive in your area.
Explore Dwarf Plant Species
Let’s expand on the idea of plant selection. Again, as you continue to learn how to design a small patio garden, you will continually run into the same issue of spacing.
You may have a long list of plant species that you love. But the chances are that many of them are simply too large to live in a container. Likewise, your patio space as a whole is probably not large enough to accommodate large trees and shrubs.
To remedy that situation, you should explore dwarf plant species. You may not know this, but there are many dwarf varieties of some of the most popular landscape plants. These dwarf species are usually the product of specific cultivation practices. Through that cultivation, there are now numerous miniature versions of larger plant species.
As you search for plants, begin by browsing dwarf species that can grow well in containers. Those plants will fit neatly in your patio space and leave enough room for your patio to remain usable.
Consider Artificial Plants
All gardeners must respect the natural conditions in which they intend to grow their plants. Unfortunately, those who have an apartment in an urban area may not have a patio that receives enough sunlight to support healthy plant growth.
For such an apartment, patio garden ideas are a bit harder to come by. But there is one solution that you might want to try. Rather than planting real plants, opt for artificial plants instead.
Some people view fake plants as undesirable. But for others, these imitation plants are the only way to add greenery to a shaded outdoor space.
Artificial plants come with some obvious advantages as well. Most notably, you won’t need to worry about maintaining these plants or protecting them during the winter months.
Soften the Area with Groundcover
Earlier, we noted that patios are hardscape areas that don’t allow you to plant in the ground. For the most part, that is a true statement. But there is one exception that you should keep in mind.
Some dry-laid patio spaces include gaps between the paving stones. This is especially true with patios that incorporate irregular paving patterns or rough-cut natural stone. Within those joints lies a planting opportunity that you might not have noticed.
Those crevices may be small, but that means that they are the perfect place for an equally small plant. Try planting a ground cover that will spread through your patio over the years. If that idea interests you, consider some of these plant options:
- Creeping thyme
- Corsican mint
- Mondo grass
- Blue star creeper
As you would expect, the plants you select to live between paver stones should have a very short mature height. That limited height will help you avoid a tripping hazard. If you can find a small ground cover that will grow in your region, adding it to your patio can soften the appearance of the space while adding attractive textures, fragrances, and the occasional flower.
Build Raised Beds
Another way to deal with the lack of soil in a patio area is to create raised beds. Raised beds offer many advantages to gardeners, some of which are listed below:
- Control over soil quality
- Minimal soil compaction
- Weed control
Building a raised garden bed is not just an effective way to grow plants where there is no available ground soil. It can also become a fun DIY project. Once you have made your raised bed, your planting options will expand significantly, as the next list item will show.
Create a Kitchen Garden
Patios are typically attached to a house or an apartment. If they are not, they are usually close by. That proximity makes patios a great place to cultivate a kitchen garden.
One of the best ways to create a kitchen garden is to use the raised beds we mentioned in the last section. These beds give you the chance to create the perfect soil conditions for your favorite vegetables and herbs.
This garden idea will turn your patio into a place that is not only lovely to be in but is also functional. If you are successful in raising a patio vegetable garden, you will get to enjoy some of the freshest ingredients next time you cook. The best part is, those fresh ingredients will be right outside your door.
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Cover Your Patio Space
The fact that patios are outdoor spaces means that they have open exposure to the elements. On a fair-weather day, that exposure is no issue. However, it can become a problem in cases of extreme weather.
In a heavy storm or a heatwave, your patio can become unbearable. To prevent that from happening, try adding some form of coverage. These structures are some of the best to use when bringing your covered patio garden ideas to life:
These items will make your patio space more enjoyable for you. But they can also help your plants as well. For example, if you try to grow shade-loving plants on a patio in full sun, they will quickly become scorched. A covering can provide the shade that those species would need.
Similarly, many plants can receive damage from heavy storms. This is most common for early-season bloomers that experience late winter storms. In those situations, a cover can go a long way in protecting the flowers and foliage of your favorite plants.
Make a Seating Space
After putting in all that work to grow plants on your patio, you should give yourself a way to enjoy them. A comfortable garden sitting area is one approach to do just that.
Since you were so careful to make sure that your plants don’t take up too much space on your patio, you should have some room left over to make a seating space. To your benefit, there is an extensive selection of patio seating options available to you.
You could choose to create an outdoor dining area where you and your friends can enjoy meals within your garden. Or you could set up a hammock to form a secluded place of relaxation.
Along with those options, there are many more types of seats for you to browse. Regardless of the route you choose, a great seat can be what motivates you to enjoy long hours lounging in your new patio garden space.
Final Thoughts on Patio Garden Ideas
At first, it may appear that there is no opportunity to create a garden on a patio space. However, as our list proves, that is not the case at all. While patios have some limitations, the small patio garden ideas on our list should help you overcome these constraints. Choose the one you like best, and soon you will have a patio garden that is the envy of anyone who is lucky enough to visit it.
John Haryasz is a freelance writer and landscape designer. In the field of landscape architecture, he has contributed to many successful design projects throughout the country. As a writer, John specializes in creating captivating and informative web content. Through that work, he aims to share his design knowledge and promote engagement with the outdoor world.