April 11, 2008

PRACTICAL PATIO POINTERS


A natural "sitting out" area in a large frontyard
( Click to enlarge )

Lucky is the urban dweller that has space for a patio. These days developers seldom leave more than a token space in new construction and often not even that. Rooftop, garagetop or decks are the norm.

If you are one of the fortunate ones to have a patio, treat it as an outdoor room that you will use frequently in the summer. If you haven't installed one yet, how you plan to use it should determine where you locate it. If you entertain a lot or like to eat outdoors then you want it near the kitchen or ( as the one in the photo above ) located away from the house and surrounded by screenings of shrubs, trees or trellis .

Patios are normally flat and open so adding benches, planted containers and other ornamentals will add another dimension. Arbors, pergolas or trellises will give it further interest and welcomed shade in a sunny location. It will also support flowering vines or roses for added beauty and fragrance. Sweet Autumn Clematis is a wonderfully prolific and fragrant vine that I have on my pergola and its sweet smell fills the surrounding area. Placing containers with fragrant flowers on or near the patio is another option.

Planting shrubs of various heights not only adds privacy but can control the wind and screen out views, making a small yard more appealing and mysterious.

For added pleasure, the sound of water can't be beat and a small re-circulating fountain or a fish pond nearby will provide it. A bird bath for our feathered friends is also a good choice, especially those with a solar powered fountain that keeps the water circulating.

Decorating your outdoor room with furniture adds a splash of color and coziness. Old existing pieces can be reused until you budget for the one of your dreams. Cover resin tables with an exotic, colorful tablecloth and splurge on an outdoor dining service and some fragrant candles. Add colorful cushions to chairs. String some Italian lights or Chinese lanterns around the pergola or some outdoor solar lights and lanterns nearby for evening entertainment.

I am one of the fortunate urban dwellers to have a patio and I seldom cook indoors once summer is here, which will probably be around mid-to-late May. As April in Chicago is still a month of transition I spend it planning on what needs to be done in the garden. Thus far, I've replaced my old worn out highback chair cushions with some colorful stripe and floral ones. Expensive; ouch , even though I got them at half price. It's early yet but I need to replace the cocoa mats in my hanging baskets, buy a new halved whiskey barrel and other containers for herbs and flowers.

It helps that my birthday is in May and that I'm SO easy to buy for. Plants and paint.

As Rosanna Rosanna Danna says " It's ALWAYS something. " There's never NOT nothing to do in the garden if you look hard enough.










15 comments:

  1. I finally added a patio on the south side of my house. I love it. I dream of having French doors installed so that I can step out to it from the bedroom. Right now I have to go outside and around the house to get to it. The one in your photo is gorgeous.

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  2. Great post, Carolyn! I'm with you on Sweet Autumn clematis--finally got one in last year and expect it to be putting on big growth this season. Do you find that people often forget to use their patios as an extension of their garden, or that they ARE doing more with containers and plantings right around them?

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  3. Thanks, Jodi. You should get some fast growth from the Sweet Autumnn if it hasn't been cut all the way back. All the guides books on pruning tell you to cut it to the ground. Don't. I did and it took forever to come back. Only cut a foot or so off and shake or pull out the dead stuff and it will green up very fast.

    To answer your question, I think it's a little a both on the use or non-use of the patio.

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  4. Thanks, Phillip. It would be nice to be able to just walk out of your house onto the patio and I hope one day you'll get your dream of the french doors.

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  5. Carolyn, we LIVE on our patio in the summer! DH does the grilling.

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  6. I'm with you, Lintys. Simon does the grilling at my house !

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  7. what a wonderful retreat! hey, my birthday is in the best month, too! Lilacs all around!

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  8. Thanks Carolyn for the information! A patio is on our list of things to create in our backyard and we're taking our time to make sure we get it just right. I'll be taking your notes into consideration.

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  9. Thanks, Muum. No wonder we're green thumbs :)

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  10. Hey rosemarie,

    You're welcome. Glad you've got a patio in your future. Gotta go visit you, it's been a long time.

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  11. Thanks for all the helpful tips. We live on a farm and have a huge front yard with a much better view than the back yard. I'd like to create some sort of sitting area in the front, but not quite sure how to go about it. I'll have to keep checking your blog for ideas.

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  12. We just added a large flagstone patio on to our house. It's wonderful to have morning coffee or evening tea outside. But we have yet to "furnish" it. Though we do have table and chairs, it needs color, pots and plants. Thank you for the great tips!
    Patricia :o)

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  13. Thanks rose, louisiana belle and vintage linen.

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  14. Nice gardening blog and photography.

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