Fix the awkward traffic flow and expand your too-small concrete patio to make an enjoyable place to sit and relax. To really step up the functionality of this makeover, surround your patio with an attractive edible landscape that will create a beautiful transition from patio to lawn.
Expand your concrete patio with an edible landscape
Start by expanding the patio to accommodate comfortable seating. Use new materials that share the same color range as the original, even if they differ in their scale. Here, concrete squares on one end and a crushed stone pad along the other edge extend the patio and create more usable space. Rather than putting the seating area in the middle of the patio, push it to the side to allow 3 to 4 feet between the deck steps and the back of the chair. This lets traffic move around easily.
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Design your garden beds with attractive fruits and vegetables
What’s so great about an edible landscape? Many fruit and vegetable plants also have many other practical benefits that add to a well-designed garden. Here’s a run down of how to design an edible landscape with attractive plants:
- A highbush blueberry shrub border offers definition, back-of-border structure and delicious fruit.
- Thyme grows beneath the tree, and alpine strawberries fill the narrow gaps between steppers for great ground covers.
- Potted herb gardens hang from deck railings and soak up the sun at the patio’s edge.
- Vegetables with dramatic foliage are beautiful focal points and can also be tasty: Rows of colorful ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard and ‘Lacinato’ kale are ideal front-of-the-border row plants.
- Size limitations prohibit planting a standard fruit tree, but an espaliered dwarf ‘Kieffer’ pear fits perfectly in the narrow foundation bed. Espalier is a pruning technique that allows typically large trees to grow along a structure or wall, in a flat, two-dimensional plane. According to folklore, having a pear tree in your yard brings good luck.
Double-duty edibles that are tasty and gorgeous
How to care for and harvest this edible landscape
Here’s how to grow the plants in this design:
- Get the cooler season greens in the ground in early spring. Both the ‘Lacinato’ kale and ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard can be direct-sown as soon as the soil can be worked. Start harvesting the leaves when they reach 5 to 8 inches in length. They will not like the summer heat, so consider sowing again in late summer for a fall crop. If you ever find yourself with a short gap between harvest and second sowing, drop in some edible scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp. and hybrids) or another midseason annual for color.
- Enjoy warmer spring temperatures on the patio surrounded by an abundance of white blooms from the alpine strawberries, highbush blueberry bushes, crabapple and pear trees. As an added treat, the blooms of the ‘Kieffer’ pear are highly fragrant. To grow your best strawberries, check out our solutions to common strawberry problems.
- Get creative in the kitchen during harvest. Gather alpine strawberries, pears, blueberries and currants to mix with granola and yogurt. Or save the pear for lunch to top off your baby mesclun salad. It all tastes good!
- Learn more about caring for each plant by clicking through the slideshow below.
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