Before and After: More Beautiful Outdoor Living…

A brilliant speaker I heard not long ago said most blogs are inane and irrelevant; we agree, which is why we don’t post a new one every day or even every week.  However, on  the chance that someone will glean a useful idea about container gardening and decorating outdoor living spaces, here is a recent patio consultation.

(BEFORE) This family came to us because they wanted beautiful pots of the proper size, shape, and color for their entry and the job progressed from there.  Noticing the dark brown front door, nearby gutters and downspout, and the cream and browns of the stone, we  chose iced coffee for the container color; it picked up a little of everything at the front of their home.

(AFTER) The entry faces west; it could have been a plant-killing oven, but actually the sun doesn’t invade until five o’clock; we tucked the pots into the shade to protect them and avoid crowding the door, so they will be fine.  Just as a precaution, we lined the sunny side of the pots with a double layer of bubble wrap for insulation against heat or cold.  A two-gallon Japanese Blood Grass in each pot will be tough enough, their dark purple-brown color will complement the pots, add the needed height and movement, and, with any luck, they will look decent through the fall and winter and then revive in the spring.

This family had some patio furniture and had thought about how the entire family wanted to use each patio–a formal one for entertaining and cocktails vs. the casual family hamburger grilling patio full of bright colors, whimsy, and family fun.  Everyone contributed their ideas.

BEFORE) The formal patio was in need of softening with carpet and plants.   Visual interest was needed at eye level.   We were able to offer the first components just before an outdoor party, finishing the plantings after they returned from a vacation.

(AFTER) An outdoor carpet that repeated the colors in their furniture cushions and was in keeping with their traditional style anchored the seating area.  Two large red pots complement the red in the loveseat cushions or pillows, and some  lush tropical plants make an appealing improvement.  A woven bowl filled with 3″ and 4″ spheres of moss and sea grass add an unbreakable designer touch in consideration of the four year old race car driver who is the daytime master of this domain.  The red containers behind the loveseat were not very visible here; however, the homeowner pulled everything forward and had eased them out to be more noticeable by the next time we visited to complete planting of the remaining pots.

(BEFORE)On the blank east wall of the formal patio, something was needed to fill in, soften, enrich, and enliven the space.

(AFTER) An even larger red container was planted with the largest tropicals available; we filled in with red begonias to echo the red upholstery.  This large container of plants softens, adds texture and movement to the blank wall; it will be  wonderful when the plants mature and are overflowing the container.  Included are an Areca Palm, two very large Pothos ivies, two Bird’s Nest Ferns, and more than a dozen red Begonias.  This should grow to a stunningly beautiful planting in just weeks; the tropicals love shady heat because those are their natural conditions.   They should be happy once their watering needs are determined.

(BEFORE) A blank brick wall on the west side of the patio needed something other than pots.

(AFTER)  A cast stone console was the answer,  anchored with a smaller red pot.  We were excited to find a tropical plant with thick leaves that begin as red when new and mature to green.  We surrounded it with a collar of red Begonias.  It too will be gorgeous when the tropical plant and the Begonias mature and spill over the pot’s edge.  We accessorized the console with two potted plants, one live tropical and one preserved boxwood.  as well as a large candle.   The homeowner has added a family photo and another candle.  We are looking for an appropriate weatherproof outdoor art painting to hang above the console or prop against the wall.

Now for the casual hamburger grilling patio!  The family wanted to keep a meaningful heirloom glass top patio table and four chairs to use as their everyday dining set.  There was a children’s plastic picnic table with attached benches that is great  to hose off after kids snacks and projects but not the most attractive, so it was relegated to the grassy area below.

For this patio we chose large glazed terra-cotta pots in a Bahama Blue finish, planting the largest two with blue-green small Leyland Cypress to add airy height and movement as well as seasonal interest in the winter.  They will need to be changed out in a few years, but then they can be planted in the yard.  We repeated the rug and pillow colors in the heat tolerant annuals planted in the remaining pots.

An aqua based outdoor turkish rug under the table and chairs and bright tropical floral pillows in the armchairs added comfort and united the space.

After everything was in place, we all agreed that another large pot should be added to the west corner in the future.

The tree covering their patio was festooned with several red silk solar lanterns for evening ambiance and for even more fun they later hung one of our outdoor swing chairs in a multi colored stripe.

We have found a retro outdoor art of a hamburger that can be hung over their grill.

One more attractive, user-friendly patio and one more friend.  That’s why we like this job!

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