A decorative patio garden

You can transform a small space like a patio or balcony into a decorative and productive garden by container gardening.  Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your design and plantings.

Design with decorative pots. Use pots of different styles all made of the same material or all in the same color family. Even simple clay pots can be effective when the clay itself becomes part of the overall design, like in a cactus and succulent garden. Or Asian designed china pots can punch up an Oriental theme with bonsai plants or dwarf Japanese maple trees.

Arrange the pots artistically. Raise some on stands or tables or set them at different heights on top of rocks, slices of tree trunks or other decorative pedestals that create a theme for your patio or balcony garden.

Select unusual containers. You can plant any container that will safely hold potting soil so long as it has drainage holes. Use aluminum watering cans or pails, plant an old sink or grow your plants in an antique wash tub.

Consider setting up a small fountain as part of your container design on your patio or balcony. Add décor with sculptures, draped all-weather fabrics, blown glass decorations, candles, or other ornaments.

Mix tall plants with rounded habits of growth. Use sword shaped leaves to contrast with mounded growth and add a trailing plant or two to cascade down a pot or over the edge of a flat surface. When you arrange the planted containers make sure you design in at least one tall, ornamental plant that will add a vertical element. Variety in shape and form will add interest. Colored foliage will offer year round interest and flowers can create highlights. Plant your container garden so it will create an all-over arrangement for your patio or balcony.

You can grow pots specially dedicated to herbs and vegetables or you can tuck these plants in with your ornamentals to expand your patio or balcony into an edible garden. Strawberries, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are not only tasty, but they are decorative. And herbs like basil, thyme, oregano or dill are small enough to fill in gaps between large plants.

Make sure you make provisions for draining away excess water to prevent stains and drips. Trays can be incorporated as part of the décor. You might want to fill the trays with decorative stones or find ornamental trays.

Set up your container garden to get good light yet fit in with the design of your patio or balcony. If you integrate the location of your container garden, interesting containers, blend the shapes and colors of your plants into a total arrangement and use materials that turn your container garden into a single overall statement,  you can have a patio or balcony that is a unique and beautiful work of art.