Making a Summer Flower Patio

Everything is in the details. You have bought the plants, lined them up, rearranged and tweaked them, but it's the special features that make the ordinary "superb." And you don't need exotic or unusual plants to do it.

From: DK Books - Containers for Patios

Fill a Fruit Crate

Plants can be given a huge visual lift by planting in an elegant, stylish pot or a big, fun container; likewise, collections of plants are boosted by clever groupings. This certainly applies to inexpensive annuals, such as the petunias, Swan River daisies (Brachyscome) and asters, shown here. Pot them up in inexpensive plastic pots and pack them into a fruit crate that has been given a lick of colorful weatherproof paint. Provided the plants are watered, fertilized and deadheaded, they will flourish and by midsummer the pots will be hidden completely beneath a veil of flowers.

Rustic Wood Fruit Crate as a Planter

Rustic Wood Fruit Crate as a Planter

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios, 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tumbling, Dangling Fuchsias

The best plants for covering an empty wall include bushy fuchsias with spreading, dangling stems that are weighted down when smothered in flowers. There is a huge choice of cultivars, including the white and purple 'Fiona' and the all-red 'Marinka'. Make sure that the flower colors stand out against the background.

Bushy Fuchsias Cover Empty Wall in Basket

Bushy Fuchsias Cover Empty Wall in Basket

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios, 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Dress Up a Trellis

Trellises are traditionally used to cover an entire wall, for tying in spreading climbers and supporting plants with arching growth. But they can also be used in narrow, vertical spaces with pot plants fastened to them, as here. Make sure that the pots are securely attached, or fix them to the wall behind with screws, to cope with the weight of the soil after watering.

Trellis with Wall Container Gardens

Trellis with Wall Container Gardens

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios, 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Foliage Foils

When designing your summer-flowering patio, it pays to think hard about the shape, size, color and texture of the foliage, as well as the flowers. Leaves play a key part because they act as a backdrop, a linking element and, in the case of evergreens, essential structure that stands out when the flowering plants are dormant or not in full bloom. Leafy plants to look for include the shapely and glossy, those with variegation and the large and handlike. Also include plants that combine flowers with interesting foliage, such as begonias.

A Cottage Garden in Pots

The prime ingredients of a cottage garden include a fun, carefree design with plants merging into one another, plenty of scent, butterflies and bees and a sea of summer color. Although cottage gardens have a relaxed feel, the most effective are carefully planned, so mixing up a batch of potted plants and letting them get on with it may simply not work. You must stay in control. Make sure that the spreading plants, such as lavender, are in their own pots where they will not overwhelm their neighbors. Check that the big attractions can be clearly seen, although they do not have to be in the foreground. Remember that there’s no such thing as a "cottage garden plant," but the emphasis is decidedly on the old-fashioned, not the brand-new. Good choices for pots include daisy-type flowers, dahlias, campanulas, clarkia and cosmos.

Next Up

Creating a Mediterranean Patio

Finding brightly colored plants for a Mediterranean look is not a problem — garden centers are packed with them — but knowing which ones to choose and how to combine them can be tricky.

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Turn the open space underneath your deck into closed storage by creating a lattice wall with a gate.

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Host Steve Watson helps a homeowner build a backyard deck.

How to Build a Backyard Pergola

Don't let the sweltering sun prevent you from enjoying your patio during the summer months. Learn how to build a pergola with adjustable roof panels that lets you dial just the right amount of shade.

Create a Flower-Filled Summer Patio

Choosing plants for a summer patio is easy; the tricky part is organizing them to create the right overall look. In a small courtyard such as this, choose a mix of colorful summer annuals and leafy plants for a cottage garden effect.

Make Garden Containers From Cast-Offs

Upcycle old tin cans into stylish containers for grasses and summer flowers and get ideas for other "free" planting pots.

Plant a Hanging Basket for Summer

Floating globes of flowers and foliage add a lush look to patios and balconies throughout the summer.

A Modern Container Garden for the Patio

In this contemporary display, the slim vase-shaped container balances the tall spiky cabbage palm and drooping ferny foliage, while pineapple-like flowers lend an exotic touch.

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