Looking for patio gardening ideas to turn your outdoor space into a gorgeous green retreat? Whatever the size of your plot, introducing plants is a great way to add color and life, soften paved edges, and create a relaxing place that you'll love to spend time in.
Everyone knows the importance of good patio ideas to transform a functional area into a stylish oasis. But once you've got your stunning outdoor furniture, fire pits, and on-trend paving sorted, plants are the perfect finishing touch. And don't let the lack of flowerbeds deter you – there are plenty of ways to fill a paved space with tons of foliage and flowers.
So, whether you dream of country meadows, a modern, tropical vibe, or you just fancy having a low-maintenance herb garden on hand so you can add fresh mint to your summer sundowner, our patio gardening ideas have something for everyone. Keep scrolling to take a look.
1. Make a statement with a small tree
Patio gardening ideas aren't just about pots. If you really want to turn heads, why not integrate a tree into your space?
Some of the best flowering trees such as magnolia or ornamental cherry make wonderful additions, boasting stunning florals when the weather begins to warm. What's more, the leafy canopy will provide a spot of shade from the summer sun – perfect for sheltering an alfresco meal in style.
Of course, there are other options too – acers provide sumptuous autumn color, whilst silver birches always add an element of elegance. Take a look at our best trees for small gardens for more ideas.
2. Train climbing foliage over walls
Add a sense of artfully-overgrown, old-world charm to your patio gardening ideas by introducing the best climbing plants. Whether you opt for foliage (try Virginia creeper for colorful leaves) or florals (passionflower or star jasmine are lovely choices), they are bound to boost the atmosphere in your patio space whilst softening your garden wall ideas.
Create a quiet corner by training them behind a bench, and why not add a jumble of pots nearby for extra interest? It'll be your new favorite spot in no time.
3. Create interest with a combo of container pots
Clusters of large pots holding a variety of lush plants are an easy way to bring nature to your patio space.
Mix and match your containers for a laid-back look – galvanized steel pots are perfect for a country garden mood – and group different sizes and heights to add impact and create the impression of a sprawling and abundant garden. Add to the immersive vibe with climbers creeping up trellises, as seen here.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our garden planter ideas.
4. Add height with potted trees
Transport yourself to the Med with small trees such as olive or fig which grow well in containers on patios or as part of your decking ideas. These small trees are a natural focal point and create a more enclosed, intimate feel on a patio, as well as offering dappled shade in high summer.
Olive trees like a sunny spot and although they're naturally drought tolerant, when planted in pots they need regular watering – don't let the compost dry out.
5. Hang plants from above
When it comes to patio gardening ideas, it's important to make the most of all the space you have. And that, of course, include the verticals.
This is where hanging basket ideas come in to play. Brimming with the opportunity to get creative, you can plant them with an abundance of cascading florals, foliage, and even herbs.
Suspend from a pergola, an established tree, a railing, or simply a hook secured to an exterior wall. It's a simple way to give a patio a lift. We love how this duo complements the surrounding color scheme, offering a sultry yet sophisticated vibe.
6. Create a potted plant display on shelves
On the lookout for small garden ideas? Then here's another way to make the most of vertical space whilst increasing the amount of greenery in your plot.
Opt for tall shelving units such as these and you can have fun creating beautiful vistas with your favorite pots and plants. A pretty lantern or two (go for LED candles to err on the side of safety) will boost the ambience come nightfall.
7. Use a wooden bar cart for a pretty vignette
Love the idea above but looking for something that feels a little more unique than freestanding shelves? Try reusing a wooden bar cart, like the one above. It adds a vintage charm to a patio space, and, what's more, can be easily moved around – handy for cleaning, or for when you want to give your plot a refreshing rearrange.
Arrange flower-filled containers on top, for a lovely addition to your patio gardening ideas. You can use the bottom shelf to store watering cans and other garden bits and bobs, too – an easy solution for garden storage ideas in a small space.
8. Plant a mini succulent garden
Striking succulents are all the rage when it comes to indoor plants. But, there are hardier varieties of succulents that are well-suited to growing outdoors, so you can bring this trend out to your patio, too.
Look out for sempervivums and sedums and plant using a quick-draining soil blend (add around 25% builders sand to a regular potting soil). If you fancy adding in less hardy succulents such as echeverias, plant these in pots, then bring them inside over the colder months.
If you need more advice getting started, head over to our guide on how to grow succulents.
9. Dress a fence or wall with climbing roses
Nothing says English country garden quite like a climbing rose, and they're a great addition to garden fence ideas.
Climbing roses are sun-lovers and prefer a sunny, sheltered spot, adding color and scent with their repeat blooms. They aren't self-clinging so need to be given a support structure such as a trellis or horizontal wires or train over.
For an extra hit of color, paint your trellis – muted shades are perfect for a country look, or go for brights to give a modern edge to your patio gardening ideas.
10. Reuse a ladder
A vintage step ladder offers multiple spots for potted plants – mix and match containers and plant up with summer bedding plants to add texture and color.
If you love a rustic look then leave it to weather naturally. It'll make a lovely addition to more informal patio gardening ideas. However, you could personalise it further with a fresh lick of paint – take your pick from our best exterior wood paint buying guide.
11. Plant a bamboo screen
Fast-growing plants like bamboo and grasses work brilliantly in planters against a wall or fence to create an area of green without taking up too much space. Plant in a long, narrow planter, or line up matching pots for a smart, modern way to frame a patio area.
A perfect solution if you're looking for garden privacy ideas.
12. Go high with planters
While you might not have space for a full vegetable patch, a raised garden trough offers up the perfect spot to grow veg or herbs.
If you're planting veg, it's a case of the more sun, the better. A raised wooden trough or planter is ideal because you can position it in the sunniest spot on your patio.
Check out more small vegetable garden ideas in our guide.
13. Create a wildflower haven for your patio gardening ideas
Allow grasses and wildflowers to spill over the tops of low walls or fencing to soften hard edges or garden borders. This planting idea has the added bonus of upping your eco gardening credentials at the same time, creating a paradise for bees and other insects.
You'll find all the best plants to encourage pollinators in our guide to choosing bee-friendly plants.
14. Go green on your wall
Still one of the hottest garden trends, a living wall will bring a patio wall to life. Simply fit the planters to the wall or fence, fill with your chosen plants (a pick and mix of fern varieties is a winning combo, or try using them to grow salad leaves) and enjoy the wall-to-wall greenery.
15. Frame the space with raised beds
Raised garden beds bordering your patio offer a feast of color and scent at eye level when you're dining alfresco. Paint the concrete a modern shade of grey for a contemporary look, or fresh white to evoke the feel of a Mediterranean courtyard.
An added bonus? Your back will thank you when it comes to weeding.
16. Be inspired by the tropics
Who needs to travel halfway round the world when you can bring tropical garden ideas straight into your own backyard?
Leave an area of patio free to create a bed for a striking tree fern or two. These beautiful trees are happiest in a sheltered, humid and shaded position, and their architectural fronds create a fantastic feature for your patio.
17. Blur the edges using grasses
Edge your patio with ornamental grasses to add height and movement.
Calamagrostis, a reed grass that comes in a host of different varieties, looks great all year round, is hardy and low-maintenance and will give you a block of low-growing foliage for an informal prairie-style border with plenty of texture. Just plant it in a block all the way along the patio edge.
Learn how to grow ornamental grasses with our guide.
18. Get your DIY on
Knock up a planter with a difference, and transform an old chest of drawers into an eye-catching color explosion on your patio.
Paint the chest in shades of your choice, drill drainage holes in the bottom of the drawers and apply a sealant such as polyurethane to the inside of the drawers so they don't rot (or, you could just use pond liner).
Then, all you need to do it plant up the drawers generously with your favorite blooms.
19. Upcycle tin can hanging planters
Decorate a trellis with this simple tin can DIY. Make sure the can is clean and dry before spray-painting it (do this outside if you can, to allow plenty of ventilation).
Punch a hole each side of the opening and thread through a loop of wire for hanging. Flowering plants will add color, but this is also a great idea for a simple herb garden.
Don't forget to take a look at our budget garden ideas for more inspiration.
20. Pick a color scheme
Group colors together and then repeat them around your patio gardening ideas with blooms and soft furnishings. Sticking to a small palette of hues will have a calming feel.
For a pretty look, a combination of pink, purple and white works well, or if you're more of a minimalist pare it right back and just pair green foliage with white blooms. You can find more inspiration on garden color schemes in our guide.
21. Achieve balance with symmetry
Symmetry has always been a hit in formal garden design and you can use it on even the smallest patio to create a sense of visual balance. Mirror container planting, by repeating the same pots and plants either side of the opening, a table or another focal point to give the space an impression of order and structure. Add one of the best bistro sets for a charming scene.
22. Grow a vertical herb garden
Knock up your own, budget version of a living wall by making use of a pocket shoe organiser. Pour a little water into one of the pockets to check the drainage, and add a few holes if needed, then it really is as simple as filling the pockets with compost and adding your plants or seeds.
23. Go for formal hedging, but keep it low
Offering that winning combo of looking good and being easy to maintain, box hedging is the ideal species for formal, low hedges or borders thanks to its dense evergreen leaves that can be easily trimmed into a neat shape. Keep it looking tip-top with a pair of the best garden shears.
24. Line with lavender
Lavender might be at its absolute best over the summer with those amazingly fragrant purple flowers, but its foliage looks good year-round, so it's an excellent choice for an easy-to-grow border shrub for your patio. And wildlife loves it just as much – lavender is a big hit with bees with its nectar and pollen on the menu.
If you fancy adding this gorgeous plant to your patio gardening ideas, take a look at our tips on how to grow lavender.
What are good outdoor patio plants?
There are plenty of good patio plants. But, if you're looking for multifunctional patio gardening ideas, then you can't go wrong with herbs. Offering a wonderful fragrance, well-suited to pots, and useful for elevating all manner of meals and drinks, they're a must-have patio plant.
And if you're interested in adding some outdoor bar ideas to your patio space, take LECHUZA's advice and combine patio container gardening and mixology. It's an easy way to elevate your summer entertaining this season. 'There is nothing quite like the taste and smell of homegrown mint,' they say. 'As it's such a vigorous grower, you'll never be in short supply. Use to throw together the perfect mojito at a moment's notice or, for a twist on the classic rum cocktail, try growing lemon balm and swap in for the mint.'
Or, how about elevating your G&T by adding a sprig of homegrown basil, along with a crack of black pepper and lemon wedge, they suggest. 'If you're feeling more adventurous, throw together a refreshing cucumber and mint gimlet or a Garden Gimlet, made with basil and borage.'
Other good contenders for patio gardening ideas include the well-loved pelargoniums. A gorgeous choice for pots, they brighten up a space with their jolly hues. And, some varieties have scented foliage, too. Bring them indoors during winter to liven up a conservatory or kitchen window.
If you're looking for architectural structure, try agapanthus, as recommended by Thompson & Morgan. They thrive in pots as the plants put up more flowers as their roots get constricted. Take a look at our tips on how to grow agapanthus to get started.
Of course, roses definitely need a mention too when it comes to patio gardening ideas, especially if you're looking for show-stopping fragrance. David Rice from the RHS suggests 'Lady Emma Hamilton' for a citrusy scent, apricot petals, and disease-resistant foliage.
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