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Small-space patio border

By: Sherri Ribbey
Plant a beautiful flower border around your patio with our planting plan and tips.

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Colorful patio border planting

Looking for a space-saving way to add color to your patio? The right plants can become the perfect complements to an outdoor patio in your yard; being surrounded by flowers will make the escape to your patio more enjoyable when you want to relax outdoors. Even if you have a small space to work with, make the most of it.

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Small patio space? No problem!

We didn’t have room for a big garden on this patio. (See how we built it here) But this small border does a lot more than you might think. For one thing, it’s just plain pretty. All those colorful flowers are a pleasure to look at while you’re enjoying the view. Beyond that, it provides a visual boundary between the patio and the rest of the yard, which adds to the feeling of getting away while you’re sitting there. The warm reds and oranges contrast with the cool gray from the concrete pavers and fence stain. They stand out even better against a backdrop of green shrubs.

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It's only 4½ ft. wide and 15½ ft. long, so maintenance won’t take up your whole day. Follow the planting plan below or mix up a grouping of your own favorite annual flowers. If you let the boxwoods grow to their mature size — 3 ft. tall and wide — they’ll take up most of the planting area and you’ll need fewer annuals. But these shrubs are super easy to prune, so keep them whatever size you want by trimming the tips back in early spring.

Plant annuals in your patio border

The great thing about annuals is that they bloom from spring until frost. After you plant, remove all the flowers to encourage your new plants to put their energy into getting established. A 2- to 3-in. layer of organic mulch, such as bark chips, will help conserve moisture and keep weeds from crowding out your new tenants.

Maintenance tip

As flowers mature, deadhead spent blooms to encourage more. Just follow the spent stem back to where it meets a leaf and cut it off.

Attract pollinators

While you’re enjoying the pretty flowers around your patio, don’t be surprised if you notice you are attracting lots of winged visitors. Butterflies love zinnia, celosia and mealycup sage flowers, too!

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Small-space patio border plant list

A) Boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Velvet’)
Type Shrub Blooms Evergreen foliage Light Full sun to part shade Size 24 to 36 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold zones 5 to 9, heat zones 9 to 1 Number to plant: 5

B) Zinnia (Zinnia Profusion Mix)
Type Annual Blooms White, orange and apricot flowers summer to fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness Heat zones 12 to 1 Number to plant: 23

C) Mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’)
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Purple spikes summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold zones 8 to 11, heat zones 12 to 1 Number to plant: 7

D) Celosia (Celosia argentea cristata ‘Prestige Scarlet’)
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms 3-in. wide red flowers summer to fall Light Full sun Size 10 to 24 in. tall, 8 to 10 in. wide Hardiness Cold zones 10 to 11, heat zones 12 to 1 Number to plant: 9

Published: March 5, 2018
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