As I mentioned last week, it’s time for my end-of-season garden assessment.  Last week, I talked about my front porch container “experiment.” This week, I’m moving on to the patio.

Assessment, Part 2: Simplifying . . . with Ferns

As long as the weather is dry and the furniture is set up, Tom and I spend every evening together out on the patio. Our patio space is very basic. It’s just a slab of concrete tucked onto the back of our house. Nothing fancy or complicated or fussy. But it is sort of . . . magical. First, it’s situated on the east side of our house, so by mid-afternoon, it is completely in the shade. Even when it’s unbearably hot elsewhere in the yard/garden, our patio tends to be on the cool side of things. (And if it’s not cool enough, we bring out fans to make it so.) Second, this part of our backyard is very private. Like I said, it’s tucked away on the back of our house . . . add to that our fencing and the natural “walls” of trees and mixed borders in the garden . . . and no one can see us out there. And third, this is our view from the patio . . .

It’s a great place to admire and enjoy our garden, watch the birds, check in after a busy day, share a drink, transition from work/daily busy-ness . . . to dinner. Our patio time is pretty much our favorite time of the day. (And we miss it greatly in the winter.)

Usually, I pack the patio with containers of plants. In past years, it has been a jungle of color and texture out there on the patio. Sometimes I add veggies-in-pots. It’s been . . . a lot. Last year (part of last year’s end-of-season assessment), I decided it had gotten . . . ridiculous; even out of hand you might say. Too many plants. Too much jungle. And WAY too much time keeping everything watered and deadheaded. So one of my garden-goals for this year was to simplify my patio plantings.

Which is so much harder for me to DO than to PLAN to do. Because I really do love putting together containers! But I decided to work hard . . . and let it go. (Summer of Zen, remember?) I decided to stick with fewer,  EASY plantings . . . like ferns. (I always have some hanging ferns on the patio, and they always do really well.)

So I picked up a bunch of Boston ferns in hanging baskets at my nursery this spring. I hung some of them. I placed some of them on plant stands. And I even put one on the edge of my pond! (You can see the pond – and the fern – from the patio, so it does work my “theme” . . . even across the garden space.)


I did still place and plant a couple of my favorite patio containers . . . but far fewer (FAR. fewer.) than I usually do. And to continue my patio “theme,” I planted ferns in these containers, too.


At first, I was afraid I’d miss all the color and variety of plants from my usual patio container . . . cacophony. But you know what? I found my pared back, fern-themed patio plantings to be refreshing, soothing, and lush! (A lot of the time, less really IS more.) We didn’t trip over pots all summer on the patio, and the care-and-upkeep (watering and deadheading) was easy and low key.

I did plant a couple of tall grasses in pots near our sliders, and, again . . . low key, less water, easy maintenace for the WIN. (Plus . . . won’t they look great when I transition them to fall by adding mums and pumpkins in a couple of weeks?)


And there you have it: Assessment 2 in the books. Big takeaways?

I successfully pared back my patio planting. . .
with great results!
I love the look.
It felt like an oasis (instead of a cacophony).
I spent less time on care-and-maintenance.
And . . . enjoyed a summer of Zen on the patio!
(Look for more of the same next season.)