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Patio border design

Hi All, 
I'm moving into a new build house with an 'L' shaped patio in a north facing garden which gets the sun around 3pm in the summer. I'd love to edge the patio with some plants for year round colour as it can be seen from the kitchen/diner with the bifold doors. I love the thought of lavender falling over onto the patio but I don't think it does well in shade so maybe some grasses, and some evergreen shrubs and some flowers. Unsure where to start so looking for suggestions. We have red robin pleached trees bordering the back.


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,155
    Hi @staceyrose5 - it's always a little trickier when it's a shadier site, but it doesn't mean you can't have lots of interesting plants.  :)
    The biggest problem with new builds is usually the conditions of the soil, so the first thing to do is mark out your border, and then add some good organic matter. Well rotted manure is the best addition, and you can get it bagged from GCs and all sorts of other places. Some decent compost, leaf mould, composted bark - all are good for improving the general health of the soil, and it makes it easier for your plants to thrive. 
    You're right about the lavender, but you could always plant some up in pots for using on the patio through summer, and that would solve the problem a little bit.  If your front garden is sunnier, you could keep them there for the rest of the time. 
    What sort of size are you making the border? That also determines what will work, as well as your general climate, and also what time you have for maintenance.  :)
    You can take a look at this site in the meantime for some ideas
    and this is a very good nursery with a wide range of plants for all sorts of situations
    It's a good time to plan a little for spring planting, but  there are lots of easy shrubs which will be fine - from Spireas,  Euphorbias and Potentillas to and Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Pieris  [if the soil suits].
    Hellebores, Pasqueflowers, Brunnera, and all sorts of bulbs will work for early colour seen from your doors too. 
    Most grasses do best with a good amount of sun though. Carexes will cope with shade, but avoid the invasive one - C. pendula. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thank you so much some great ideas. I think a border of around 1.5m, we are in the South East of the UK so generally good weather, I don't have loads of time for maintenance so easy to care for plants would be best.
  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    edited September 2021
    Lovely space. A blank canvas.  You can plant something tall in the sun catching areas. 

    You have more sunny space that catches sun at 2m and higher than seems at first sight on the ground.  It is the leaves that need the sun.  Plants need not have sun near the base trunk.

    So, you can bring up something like a cherry blossom tree that flowers beautiful pink blooms right through autumn, the bleak winters when nothing else is in bloom, and in early spring. Totally lifts your spirits.  Cherry fruit trees and apple trees are others that grow to a good height.  Bees, butterflies, and birds flock to them.  The leaves are high up in the air; so, most spots that get the sun above 3m will accommodate one.

    Consolida ajacis - like 'Blue spire' is a beautiful and tall blue plant.  Needs to be in the sunny space as the leaves are at the mid level, lower than the flower spikes.
    Hollyhocks and Foxgloves are similar and come in different colours.  However, you have to remember never to buy Hollyhocks as plug plants as the plant is very vulnerable to catching a fungal disease called rust; the probability is high they will bring rust into your garden on the leaves of the plug plants.  Bringing them up from sowing seeds is safer.
    Bees and butterflies flock to them.

  • Jac19Jac19 Posts: 496
    edited September 2021
    What I have done in a garden much in the shadow of low buildings like this is put down a number of tall growing plants in cheap, large containers in the sunny area.  I then grow them to about 2m-3m in the good sun; and then I move them to the shadier areas and dig a hole and plant them into the ground. 

    You can get large nursery containers cheap for like £10 - £15..

    The plants sense the sun and focus on sending shoots straight up for the leaves to be in the sun first; and then they branch out there up in the sun, the leaves in the sun supporting the whole plant and the root system.  Nature is clever and marvellous that way.

    Alternatively, there are nurseries that sell "treelings" that they have grown to a good height which are somewhat more expensive than buying them as small plants.

    You can grow trees that are tall in the shadier areas as long as the leaves catch about 4+ hours of sun that way.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,155
    If your soil is neutral to acidic, Pieris are particularly good shrubs for colour at various times of year, and a good backdrop to perennials. Hardy geraniums are really easy and will grow almost anywhere, and in any soil, and there are hundreds of varieties, and readily available. Spring bulbs are  perfect for underplanting those. If you're making the border wide enough, you'll certainly be able to accommodate a few shrubs and perennials.  :)
    The Japanese azaleas, the evergreen ones, are smaller, and slower growing, but most are brightly coloured, so they'll give you good colour from the house as they're spring flowering. Whites, and pale colours are particularly good in shade. If you fancy it- an Acer will also give you some good autumn colour. They do really well in pots too, so you can move it around. Hundreds of varieties available from lots of good suppliers, so just ask which outlet would be good if you decide to have one of those. 
    I should have added Heucheras to the list above as well. Easy, evergreen, lots of foliage colour, perfect for shade. Polemoniums [Jacob's Ladder] and Dicentra [white ones are excellent in shade] will give you a bit of height, and are both easy. All are readily available too. Hardy cyclamen for this time of year, is a very useful addition for ground cover, as are Colchicums [autumn crocus]. You might need to wait till spring to get those. You can buy cyclamen in GCs, but at this time of year, they're often the non hardy ones, so check the specialist sites for info, and ordering. Peter Nyssen, Farmer Gracy, Avon Bulbs etc - will all stock them. 
    Have a look round your local neighbourhood too, to see what plants are doing well, and that will give you an idea of what might grow well.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • DedekindDedekind Posts: 171
    edited September 2021
    How much of the view are you willing to 'block'? I am in the same situation, laying a new L shaped patio and I need to figure out how to separate it from the lawn. Being a long, but narrow garden, I don't want to fully block the view from the kitchen/living room because it gets really nice at the back. Just mentioning this because sometimes you can get plants that end up being too big for your purpose. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,155
    Checking the eventual max height and spread is always important @Dedekind, but everyone's conditions are different, which has an effect, so info for plants is only a guide. Sometimes, plants just get too big for the site because the growing conditions suit them, so it's not uncommon for people to have to move things at a later date.
    Many shrubs can be carefully pruned though, and by that I mean, you can often remove individual stems and branches, rather than doing the hedge trimmer 'everything pudding shaped' look, which is often very unappealing. 
    I was out earlier, and I've just thought of another suitable grass for @staceyrose5 [because I walked past mine!]  Hakonechloa. Not evergreen, but colours up in late spring [May here] and carries on into autumn. There are various varieties, but H. macra Aureuola, and H. m. All Gold, are both very good for shady sites. There's also Millium effusum 'Aureum' [Bowles' Golden Grass] which is similar in colouring, but with less variegation. Luzula nivea will also work in shade. I think Ballyrobert sells it. I had both in a previous garden, and I think a few people on the forum grow them. 
    There's also a really nice dwarf Aruncus [Goatsbeard]  which has great autumn colour that might suit. I was thinking of getting it, so I'll have a look and see if I've got it bookmarked somewhere. 
    Philadelphus and Hydrangeas will also work in the site- but choose carefully, because there are huge variations in size. There's a smaller Philadelpphus called Manteau d'Hermine, which is smaller, and has double flowers. Lovely shrub.
    All of these will happily grow in shady conditions, and provide a backdrop for other planting. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,155
    Here's the little Aruncus, and they should take some shade no problem.
    Having autumn colour extends the season enormously, so picking plants that give more than a couple of weeks' flowering are really valuable in small spaces.

    Aquilegias will also work in shade really well - hundreds to choose from   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Amazing thank you so much! I now have the problem of narrowing down my choice :-)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,155
    I know - sorry @staceyrose5!
    Take a bit of time to plan. It's a really good time of year for it. Play about with sizes and what works with other planting etc. If there are colours you like or dislike, rule those out. That's sometimes easier. 
    I'll tag @Topbird, as she gardens in drier conditions too, so she'll possibly have some good ideas for suitable shrubs and perennials.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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