If you want to extend the usefulness of your outdoor space, a patio is a great place to start. It’s your one-stop spot for entertaining, dining, relaxing, and enjoying time surrounded by the beauty of nature. The key is to *surround yourself* with beauty, and to do that, you need great landscaping.
Before you start sowing grass seed or plunking petunias into mulch beds, stop to consider what makes a beautifully landscaped patio. We promise it will result in a much more enjoyable space!
These are a few things for you to think about as you plan your landscaped patio area.
Plan For Privacy
Whether you want to block out the world, or simply create a cozier space, it’s important to consider an element of privacy. Start by deciding just how much of it you want. Enough to be secluded from the rest of the neighborhood? Or just enough to feel a sense of personal space?
There are myriad ways to create privacy in small ways. Adding a retaining wall around one or more edges of your patio can give you a more intimate feeling than a patio open to the yard. Tall grasses go a long way to creating privacy, as do tall, stately planters.
Bamboo is a great privacy option – you can plant it as a living wall not just along a patio but along your property border to give your yard a retreat feel. Its color and leaves will last year round so you can feel just as cozy during winter as during summer and spring.
For a greater sense of privacy and to create a more room-like feel, go for a pergola, gazebo, or trellis. Landscape “up”, along a fence or wall, or in the form of living wall art full of blooms and greenery. It’s a beautiful way to add privacy and a smart way to enhance a smaller space.
Hide The Eyesores
Everyone has them. It could be the trash and recycling bins. The electric meter. Or a stack of garden tools and toys that never seem to have a home. If you don’t deal with them, they’re going to stick out and be exactly what they are – that ugly thing that’s about as easy to ignore as the pink elephant in the room!
The good news is that disguising eyesores can add as much beauty to your space as any other landscape element. A simple wood construction can hold bins and look as natural as the vine-laden trellis you placed in front of the electric meter. Opt for a shed or bench seating that doubles as chest storage for all those extra tools and toys that you love to use but hate to see strewn everywhere.
You might not imagine that Rover gets a say in your landscaping, but when it comes to pet safety, it’s important to consider what you plant. Certain plants are toxic to pets and can even be fatal when ingested. You may love azaleas but they can mean life or death for dogs. Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats simply from contact with the pollen.
On the other hand there are plenty of gorgeous and pet-friendly blooms and plants, all of which will give you peace of mind knowing your precious furry friends are safe from harm.
Think Carefully About Trees
They’re beautiful, stately, unique, offer shade and a natural habitat for birds and wildlife, and contribute to the overall appeal of your landscape. But things can go wrong when you plant them around your patio without careful planning.
Some natural stone and fruit trees don’t mix – stone can become stained or be eroded by the acidity of fallen fruit. Other trees may shed blossoms or other debris onto your patio, causing a mess that you’ll spend more time cleaning up than appreciating.
Other trees may be just perfect when newly planted, but develop extensive root structures over time that buckle and crack stone. In either case, you can avoid issues with careful consideration and planning.
Bring Up A Pond
Yes, bring it up – right up to the edge of your patio, that is. There’s no rule that your patio needs to be surrounded by lawn, mulch, or even gardens. A patio-side pond offers built-in beauty and visual appeal all year long. It can also be the center of a new favorite hobby – water gardening and koi watching!
Include a bubbler or waterfall for the visual appeal and the soothing sounds. As an added bonus, you’ll build in a bit of audio privacy, too. The sound of running water can mask unwanted external sounds – like noisy neighbors and traffic – and keep your dinnertime conversations more private, too.
Ward Off Mosquito Bites
When you spend time outside, encounters with mosquitos are inevitable (And no, a pond will **not** invite mosquitos!) Even if you’re a mosquito magnet, there’s hope to be found in many of Mother Nature’s loveliest plants.
When citronella candles just won’t cut it – and let’s face it, they don’t exactly charm the senses – then try surrounding your patio with plants that mosquitos positively loathe.
Sage, mint and lavender are all excellent choices, not just for repelling mosquitos but for bringing a delicious scent to your garden. Other repellents include bee balm, thyme, marigolds and the delightful hummingbird mint, which will also – you guessed it! – attract hummingbirds.
Make It Lush And Layered
It might be tempting to lay some flowers out along the edges of your patio in a perfect outline. But that can be fairly uninteresting, however pretty the blooms.
A good landscape – and that includes the one around your patio – needs depth and height, color and texture. Fill up your gardens with plants that work together. Ground cover up front, followed by mid-height flowers and greenery, with tall grasses or other larger plants at the back. Not only will this make the space more visually interesting, but it can make a small space appear larger.
Use containers to build height and depth, with everything from creepers and vines to fountain grass and coleus.
If you’ve got a slope, incorporate tiered beds, which will help avoid erosion and also take advantage of vertical space.
While you’re at it, consider potted herbs or raised vegetable beds. They’ll look great, smell great, and be at your fingertips when you want to pop outside and snip off a few edibles for dinner.
Light It Up
A patio wouldn’t be complete without lighting. After all, its usefulness doesn’t cease after sunset. Lighting will ensure that you can enjoy your space whatever the time of day or night.
String lighting above a patio can help frame the space and make it cozier and more inviting, creating a bit of a party vibe for entertaining. Lights embedded in paving stones can be used to light walkways or add a subtle glow to define edges.
Lanterns can be placed atop retaining walls, lights can be interwoven with greenery in a pergola, gazebo or trellis. Lights can even be used to spotlight a favorite landscape element, like a unique tree, shrub, or piece of artwork.
From beauty to safety, it’s hard to overstate how lighting can enhance a patio and transform your evening experience.
Live For All Four Seasons
You may think about your patio as more of a summer feature. Perhaps it’s where you grill or host weekend barbecues. But great landscaping is more than just one or two seasons long. It should be something that evolves throughout the seasons, changing in color, shape, texture and a beauty you can appreciate it differently as one month blends into the next.
Landscaping for four seasons can mean timing your plants properly, so that the springtime bulbs shine in April, then give way to pansies in May and hydrangeas in June. Coneflowers and aster will grace you through summer and beauty berry will look spectacular through fall.
Landscaping for four seasons can also mean choosing elements that look great all year, like a water feature, a great evergreen, a lovely natural boulder, or a unique work of art. In fact, your patio should be one of those elements that looks great all year! That’s why it’s so important to choose a natural stone that you’ll love no matter the season.
Consider adding a fire pit for cooler months, and an overhead fan or a shady spot for warmer ones. Whatever you do, just remember that your patio is there for you to enjoy – and that means day and night, season after season, year after year.
Whether you already have a patio or want to add one, book a consultation with us and let’s talk about how to landscape around it so you can make the most of your time outdoors. Our design pros are here to answer your questions, and design the outdoor living space of your dreams.