Our Sunny Mazatlan Patio

May 17, 2009

Our upstairs patio is hot and sunny. Last week it was time to get going on changing it from a bare wasteland with a few lonely pots to our own private oasis. Above is a picture of the patio, before.

Last week I wrote about buying the pots in the post First Step In The Patio Improvements. Once the pots were all upstairs, Scott and Coco came over to arrange them and finalize the plant selection. We wanted some nice smelling plants, especially over by the bedroom window, and we needed plants that could take the heat. Below is a copy of Coco’s plan.


The plan, which changed a bit as we shopped for plants, had larger groupings in the corners and an enclosure around our lounge chairs. Oleander and datura are over by our bedroom windows.

I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few of the top tips:

Underplant. Every large plant should have some contrasting foliage or color below.

Measure. They filled the pot with soil to a measurement of the pot of the transplant plus four fingers. They used a stick placed over the pot rim, measured down the side of a hand, then put the transplant pot in and added or removed soil until it was perfect. This is to ensure that you have ample room for water!

Soil Quality. Don’t overdo the soil quality. If it is too rich plants can be targets for pests or have too much foliage and not enough flowers. Amend the top part of the soil with peat moss and kelp fertilizer. We used just contractor soil.

Plant fertilizer stakes. Palms need separate tree stakes made for palm trees. Everything else got the appropriate fertilizer stakes.

Water in well. The plants were totally flooded with water and it took quite a while for it all to be absorbed. Air will bubble out, and there may be holes that need to be filled in.

The planting plan is not set in stone. We were excited to find a gorgeous variegated ginger and quickly made a home for it. We had hoped to find a datura and we shuffled things a bit when we finally did. The datura (brugmancia) has lovely long bell shaped flowers and a wonderful fragrance at night. It had outgrown its pot in the nursery and had to be yanked out of the ground, but we just cut it back and it is already showing new growth! We also fell in love with a beautiful eucalyptus tree that we just had to make room for!

After two half days of shopping, all of the plants were assembled in our garage. Friday, Scott and Coco arranged for Beto and Jesus to help us with the hauling soil and planting. Below, the first pickup load of soil is emptied onto the street. Buckets were filled and hauled up hand over hand up the outside of the house. Saves 24 steps each way! Coco and I did some of the work at the street so Beto and Jesus could haul them up faster.

Plywood was laid out on the patio to mix on. Peat moss was added to the soil for the top layer.

All the plants were arranged according to location. Broken tile pieces were used to elevate all the pots off the patio surface.

Planting everything went amazingly fast. We started the day at 8 am and everything was watered and the patio had been hosed off by 2 pm. Amazing.

We kind of wish we had cooler looking patio furniture up here, but white plastic Coca Cola tables and plastic chairs hold up pretty well in the brutal summer sun and torrential rains.

The last two mornings we have enjoyed our coffee on the patio. And we also love late evenings with a glass of wine sitting and listening to the sounds of the city and watching the stars. This was the final project we had been planning for our house. It is wonderful that it turned out so well!

All the pictures from this renovation are on the Photos page.

Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. It just looks wonderful – what a great feeling to have another beautiful spot to live your daily lives!

    1. Nancy, it is beautiful! What a treat for you. Just wondering, do you have a hose up there or do you have to haul water?

    1. I LOVE IT!!! I’m on my way back right now with my sunscreen and proseco!

    1. American Mommy, Thank you, we are really enjoying it!

      Jennifer, Yes, there’s a hose up there so watering is easy. Of course I need to practice winding it up neatly, but, I’ll get there eventually.

      Suki, Of course you know one of those chaise lounges has your name on it and a reserved sign, too. Come back anytime, mi casa es tu casa! I bet your yard is beautiful right now, too…you need to share some pictures of your weekend of work! xoxo

    1. Gorgeous! I love the mix of pots and heights and plant types. I also love that you’ve got separate areas, rooms, defined by the plants. Really nice work!

    1. Lovely, you can paint the white plastic, there is a spray paint just for plastic and there is primer for plastic in case the colour you like isn’t available. The white looks nice, we have green plastic and the sun has faded them that is why I know about the spraypaint (at Home Depot).
      I love your plant choices! My museanda died, and so did both of my brugs. The brugs weren’t very big yet and the leaf cutter ants ate them and before they could releaf we had a big heat spell. I am going to try again in July or August.

    1. Great to look at the pictures. We can actually look down on your patio from our house on Ice Box Hill. If you look up the hill and slightly North you’ll see a couple of green umbrellas on a cream coloured house with a cross brick guard rail around the deck.

      Although we are renting we are looking to buy some planted pots just to make it seem more our home so some of the plants you have used have given us some ideas.

      We thought about bamboo in pots? Very green, lush and I understand easy to care for – had you looked at possibly using that?

    1. It looks amazing. Congrats on getting it all done. I am so jealous! Ahhh, someday!

    1. John – Si, el guapo señor IS my tranquilo!

      LaurenCancun – I hope you get some ideas to help…one I forgot to mention is not to underestimate the number of pots you need or the size. Big ones are necessary to anchor the look.

      Jonna – Thanks, we are really loving it. Scott and Coco really had the vision. We told them only that we really wanted a sense of enclosure and good smells!

      Theresa – Thank you! I think I am going to get some of that heavy plastic to tablecloth the tables since they have little ruts around the edge to keep the water from perspiring glasses in (I think) so that should change the look a bit. I doubt we’ll get leaf cutter ants up on the patio, cross your fingers! It’s like there’s a magnet dragging us up there in the evening, we love it.

      Sandie & Mike, Nice to meet you! And I had a look at your blog, wonderful! (I also added it to my blog roll) We had a bamboo up there but decided to move it to the patio off the master bath to screen the iron door, and we have a bed of timber bamboo in the back yard…so that’s enough for us, especially since it’s kind of messy. Thanks for writing, I’ll email you this week, we’d love to have you over for a beer.

      Mindy, Thank you! It’s kind of strange that now we DON’T have a houseful of kids around we have a huge place like this…probably should have been flipped around, right?

    1. This is just so beautiful. You’ll enjoy many happy hours there I’m sure. I like the idea of looking at the stars at night.

    1. Joanna, Thanks, it is wonderful all the time but especially in the evening.

      Islagringo, Come on over, anytime, I mean it!

    1. Wow! the upper deck looks fantastic!

      Can you do Les and I a favor? We’re wondering what long-terms rents are like for a 2 bedroom house in the American part of Mazatlan.

      Also, do you know any folks in Nayarit?

      congrats on the house!


    1. David,

      You know, there really isn’t an American part of Mazatlan…there is Centro, where many Americans and Canadians have fixed up old homes (and Playa Sur, just South of Centro) and then the many neighborhoods in the Golden Zone and Marina district. But pretty much everywhere in Mazatlan is very mixed, even many of the gated communities. I’d suggest you go to my Links page and scroll down to the link to the MLS in Mazatlan. You can look at various properties for sale and rent.

      No, sorry, don’t know anyone in Nayarit.

      I hope everything is going well for you guys, and congratulations on tying the knot!

    1. Wow Nancy your deck looks FANTASTIC! It is great to see the before and after photos, I feel like I’m reading a magazine! I can see why you are enjoying it. We just dusted off the deck this weekend for a nice Pacific Northwest almost summer day. So glad to read your blog and that you are keeping it up,
      🙂 Lise

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