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.