216) Patio Plantings

by Gail on June 24, 2014

Our patio has been functional for a few months now, and we have even had a few pizza parties. I haven’t yet reported on the plantings around it, so this post outlines my rationale for the landscape design.

table centre flowersPatio before & afterIt’s a challenging slope – maybe 50 degrees. WWOOFers (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and I have weeded, pulled, hacked, cut (ourselves and the weeds) broom, BLACKBERRY, grasses with great deep roots, horsetail, and other minor weeds (I wonder what the lesser weeds would think about that put-down?) more than once from the same notorious slope. We have unearthed a metal gate, broken-up pavement, whole rotting logs and construction wood, various garden pots, a couple of well-rusted carpenters’ tools, beer cans and bottles, and a partial pair of eyeglasses. We found the hydro pole box, which has been missing for years.

patio area before

We’re fortunate to have two healthy arbutus trees at the top of the slope, and a cedar part-way down. Their root systems will help to stabilize the soil where we have dug and battered it.patio planting

How to prevent weeds from taking over again? I have started by spiking heavy-duty landscape cloth over the slope and a combination of cardboard and landscape cloth over the flatter sections.lady's mantle ready to plant

In the landscaping fraternity/sorority, there appears to be a real bias against landscape weed barrier cloth. The common wisdom is that seeds come from above, not from below the cloth. I contend that the worst weeds (blackberry, grasses, and horsetail) DO come from below – their roots run laterally and deep and it’s quite impossible to get them all, even if your slope isn’t 50 degrees. Disturbed soil is particularly susceptible, because the broken roots/rhizomes react with a survival instinct, by sending out many new shoots at each break.

I actually enjoy weeding, contemplative but lonely a pursuit as it is. But, there is a limit to the amount of weeding (and the kind of weeding) that I want to do. I envision myself reading in the patio hammock some day, not weeding.patio spring

My plan is to plant mostly native species around the patio, to crowd out/shade out the invasive and introduced species. A year ago, I planted seeds of Oregon grape, and they have sprouted.oregon grape seedlings

I planted those and forest ferns such as sword fern – they stay green through the winter, and will help to stabilize the slope.

Thought has been given to where the sun sets – red Japanese maple will filter the evening light on that side of the patio.

maple in meditation garden

japanese maples

My colour theme for the front yard is red and white, so I have bought and been gifted red and white flowering shrubs (rhodies, a magnolia, peonies, some dahlias).


I must remind myself of the lessons I have learned about mature trees and shrubs, and try not to overcrowd my new plantings.

Thought has also been given to planting for privacy. The centre of the patio is visible from the street and from the neighbours’ house. We need those trees and shrubs to grow tall enough to provide some sense of enclosure.

I place the potted plants in likely spots to audition them for location. Lady’s mantle along the ramp – I love the way the leaves hold droplets of water.lady's mantel

front yard from patioThen get them out of their pots (not always easy – one or two we’ll have to break the pot) and plant them.

plant audition

A thick layer of mulch to a) cover up the ugly landscape cloth, b) replicate the forest floor, and c) keep weeds down.grape vine and maple

A male and female kiwi plant and two grapevines will grow up the posts and quickly fill in the top trellis to give us shade in the summer.patio after.jpg


This is the last post in the Patio Series. Here are the other posts in the series: Patio Preliminaries, Patio Progress, Patio Pour, Patio Posts, Patio Pierres, Patio Purniture, Patio Pinally Pinished, and Patio Pizza (you can see I got a little crazy on Palliteration!)

Sharing with: Brambleberry Cottage, A Delightsome Life, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olson, Lamberts Lately, The HomeAcre Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, French Country Cottage, The Charm of Home, Fishtail Cottage, One More Time Events, The  Chicken Chick, Boogieboard Cottage, Little Red House, Creative Country Mom, The Dedicated House, Rooted in Thyme

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine June 28, 2014 at 5:49 am

I love your patio and flowers! I could spend hours just relaxing…..


deb July 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

What an amazing job you’ve done. It will look gorgeous when things fill in….altho I’m ready to relax in it right now! 🙂


Linda July 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Talk about an improvement. This is a space I predict you will enjoy immensely.


Michal July 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Holy cow, that’s a ton of work and it’s incredible. It’s just beautiful. I love all the rock. I covet!


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