Count on quick color to accent outdoor living areas
with inviting beauty. Nothing transforms a plain patio, an empty deck, or a poolside setting like colorful plantings placed in containers or growing in beds. A lush abundance of flowers and foliage can turn an ordinary outdoor scene into an everyday escape.
In outdoor living areas, family and friends view plantings up close, so ponder plant combinations carefully. Seating areas are perfect places to enjoy fragrant or tiny flowers as well as unusual variegated foliage or bicolor blooms. As you select plants for outdoor living, consider size, growing conditions, insects, and color blending.
When you're dreaming up plant combinations for a patio, deck, or pool, remember that quick-color plants comprise a host of choices, including toe-tickling groundcovers and towering tropicals. As you scan your outdoor living area, try to match plant size to the space. A too-large plant easily overpowers a small patio or modest deck, and a too-small plant disappears when plopped beside an Olympic-size pool. With container gardens, it's somewhat easier to narrow the field of options, particularly if you purchase full-grown plants to create instant color. Research mature plant size to ensure you're not placing a too-tall plant in a too-short pot, or vice versa. On elevated decks, avoid a top-heavy container planting, especially if your deck faces prevailing winds. Elevated decks expose plants to intense sun and heat; shade-loving plants like impatiens don't thrive in that type of setting. Water gardens work well on a deck or patio, but ensure the deck's load capacity can withstand the heavy weight of water. Blossoms lure pollinators, such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and insects. Keep this in mind when selecting plants to grace seating areas, barefoot zones, or play spaces.
Match flower or leaf colors to fabric hues, and invest in containers that suit an outdoor room's style. For a formal note, fill several pots with the same plant. To create a casual, playful scene, mix lush, full plants and patterned foliage.
When selecting plants to grow near a swimming pool, keep the palette tight. Concentrate on a few plants, then repeat them around the pool area. Place bee-beckoning plants at least 4 feet from pool coping and seating areas to avoid stings. For large pools, use tall plants and hang baskets from freestanding hooks to interject vertical interest in an otherwise level setting.
Consider container alternatives. Built-in planters can be crafted to include seating. On a deck, a built-in container helps overcome wind issues. Deck rail planters provide perfect housing for seasonal color. Stand-alone containers offer endless options in terms of size, shape, material, and color. Planting in pots allows you to swap fresh seasonal color for spent plants and move freestanding containers to suit various gatherings. In narrow garden rooms, consider wall or fence planters or vertical gardens.
Potted plants look their best when you provide ample water. If a hose bib isn't located near the containers in your outdoor room, add a Y connector on the closest faucet and use a length of hose that's handy for your space.