Broken slabs or sections of a patio can be removed with a spade or trowel, enabling you to plant directly into the soil beneath. Undamaged paving may also benefit from selective planting, introducing new colours, shapes, and textures to liven up a bare patio.
Plants between Patio Slabs
- Removing mortar – Use a chisel or a screwdriver to scrape out any debris, moss, or old mortar that remains between paving slabs.
- Forking soil – Remove any hardcore with a spade, then fork over the soil beneath lightly to relieve compaction. This will aid drainage.
- Adding scent – Try to include some plants with fragrant flowers or scented foliage. Choose plants that grow happily in a confined space.
1. Insert the blade of a spade or trowel in a gap between paving slabs. Work the blade so that it digs in lower than the base of a slab, ease it beneath, and lever out the slab. Dig out any hardcore or sand.
2. Loosen the soil around the edges of the hole, and dispose of it. Add plenty of good garden soil, together with compost or well-rotted manure and some general fertilizer. Mix together well.
3. Plant shrubs or perennials following the normal method Make sure that they are at the correct depth, and tease out the roots if necessary. Add a few bulbs if you wish, and water well.
Caring for the Plants
Patio plants need special attention. Many patios are in sunny positions, which means that temperatures can become high during the summer. Additionally, patio paving quickly depletes the area of moisture and nutrients.
- Watering – To keep patio plants fresh, water them regularly and thoroughly. Add mulch to help retain moisture around the plants’ roots.
- Feeding – Feed patio plants throughout the growing season with a weak liquid fertilizer. Alternatively, apply a granular general fertilizer once a year
- Pruning – Occasional pruning may be necessary to keep a plant’s growth in check once it is established.
plants by post
Transforming a Patio
- Improving soil – Never skimp on soil preparation before planting in a patio. Any soil beneath a patio will probably contain very few nutrients or beneficial micro-organisms (see p. 482). The soil may also be badly compacted.
- Winter interest – Include a few evergreen plants with variegated leaves for added interest during winter.
- Unsuitable plants – Do not choose plants that are too invasive, or any that may cast unwanted shade. Avoid plants with vigorous root systems, since roots may start to push up the patio in future years. Steer clear of thorny plants and those that are prone to aphid infestations in places where people gather.