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Advice sought for a beginner


Apologies if this is in the wrong thread. 

I am completely new to the world of gardening. I have a large patio which I now intend (if possible during these times) to fill with plants. Now, I have some basic knowledge but probably not enough and I would appreciate any tips or insights! Some information. My patio is north facing. I have a lot of space. I understand there are various different plants, containers, and products that I can opt for. I suppose I would like to have year around plants but I am not against having plants for specific seasons. If anybody can help, that would be great. A list of actions to take would be amazing and also any materials! 

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,


  • WonkyWombleWonkyWomble Posts: 4,477
    Hello Peter  :) welcome to the forum. 
    Great idea to get gardening in times like these.  Personally I recommend watching gardeners world to get ideas. Also there are lots of useful and informative videos on YouTube.  Make sure you watch UK based ones to get correct info. 
    It all depends on whether you want food produce or ornamental plants.  Take a picture if you can and show us what your working with.  I make planters from old pallets but there are all sorts of options. There are some very helpful and knowledgeable people on this site that would be happy to advise and encourage  :)
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    edited April 2020
    You say north facing so does it get any sun at all?
    Obviously the bigger the container the better. Will you have the time keep up with the feeding and watering, small pots need watering daily, sometimes twice a day if hot and even when it rains it's rare for pots to get really wet if they are in full bloom.
    As wonkywomble says a photo would be helpful.

  • Thank you both for your replies! I attach two photos (ignore the friend!)to show what I am working with. It does get some sunlight but not very much direct sunlight. 
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    edited April 2020
    Amazing how a photo helps.
    You want to research articles and videos on roof gardening. As you seem to have paving slabs the support for extra weight should be ok.
    Do you want to obscure the view?
    With the overhang watering will be down to you and what happens to the water when it rains have you a drain or gullet?
    I can picture long deepish troughs with ferns,  hostas,  grasses and maybe a small tree.
    Evidently most plants can be grown in pots but watering, feeding, pruning can take up a fair bit of time.
    Plants for shade is a good website for plants just search for roof garden has plenty of practical information
  • That's really helpful so thank you very much! 
    I think I would want to obscure the view and I am unsure if I have a drain but I believe I must somewhere under the slabs. The Plants for shade website is really good; how does it compare to other places on price? I have no clue when it comes to pricing for plants. Based on the photos I provided, how many troughs do you think I should look into getting and are you able to advise how many plants I should order from a website such as Plants for shade? I like the suggestions for ferns, hostas and grasses! I am unsure if I could pull a small tree off? 
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Best thing for you to do is a scale drawing.
    If you have a look at Primrose website  they have all sorts of containers ranging in price so it depends on what you can afford or if you want to build your own wooden ones but check your patio will take the extra weight.
    I would put 3 along the railing side to start with. If you get tall oblong ones you can always fill up the base with polystyrene to save on compost. 18 inch depth of compost is fine for most plants, except larger shrubs and climbers.
    Taller containers would bring the plants up to eye level and help with the view and give you a bit of privacy if you want a table and chairs.
    As to plant costs you can shop around but all online websites are inundated so it's hard to order anything at the moment.
    The number depends on the length of planter and obviously size of plant you buy but what is essential with containers is to prevent vine weevil so any plant you buy take it out if the pot and drop it into a bucket of water for 24 hours to drown any that might be among  the roots really important if you buy any Heuchera as they love them.
    Have a search on Google for photos of containers to give you some ideas on planting styles.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    Hi @peterrushton - go for a few big containers, not lots of little ones.
    The main reasons being - you can grow a wider range of plants, they'll thrive better, and you won't have to water them so often. 
    If you can - get someone to build you some. Cheaper, and you can get a decent size for growing a few shrubs or climbers - they need more root space. Large containers are hideously expensive to buy.  :)
    I'd echo what @K67 says about weight though - best to check that out.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,120
    Is there soil or a trough outside the railings, or is it just weeds growing in the accumulated leaf litter etc? If there's something to plant into, you could start with something in there, while you think about what kind of containers you want, and the logistics of getting soil/compost to fill them. Large containers always seem to take more than you'd expect :|
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
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