As August flies by, we want to share some tips on how you can prolong summer color by creating and maintaining your own personal oasis. As you create your porch or patio greenspace, be sure to ask your local garden supply store which plants and flowers will continue to bloom and thrive into the fall season and can return the following year.
Contained, outdoor living spaces like a porch or patio offer excellent opportunities for the avid gardener and plant hobbyist alike. Even if you only have a small balcony to work with, strategically placed potted plants and hanging baskets can elevate your open-air leisure spot with natural colors and textures.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to design, plan and shop for your patio, porch or balcony garden. We’ll also provide a list of Seacoast-area greenhouses and nurseries, where the knowledgable growers and staff can offer their expert advice for your little patch of garden heaven.
Porch, Patio or Balcony Garden?
Porches, patios and balconies have a lot in common, in that they’re structures that provide house- or apartment-dwellers with a dedicated outdoor space to call their own. They also present some creative opportunities for plant lovers.
Porch planter ideas
The front porch is often the first part of your house that guests or passing neighbors see. Whatever their location or style — front, back or wraparound — porches are ideal spots to place standing planters, hanging baskets and window boxes.
Patio garden ideas
While porches are part of a house, a patio can either be an attached structure or a detached landscape feature. Patios are typically found in the backyard, where there is usually more space, and are almost always left open to the sky. Patios can be paved, filled with crushed stone or covered in flagstones or tile, and provide a gathering place for outdoor dining and entertaining. Ceramic planters or in-ground gardens can serve as an attractive border around a patio.
Balcony garden ideas
Balconies are most often found on any floor above ground level, and frequently appear in apartment buildings. Balconies tend to be on the smaller side, a kind of floating platform attached to the building, so a creative use of space is key when decorating. Hanging baskets, window boxes or shallow standing shelves can help you add some greenery to this contained space.
Let’s Get Started
Before you start plant shopping, it’ll help to define your goals for your porch, patio or balcony garden. Here are some key questions to consider:
- What colors or textures do you want to add to your outdoor living space?
- Do you want your garden to serve a specific purpose, such as growing vegetables or attracting pollinators?
- How much care can you commit to? Think watering, weeding and pruning.
- How much sunlight does the area get?
- Do you have pets that go outside and might chew on plants? Be aware of plants that might be harmful to pets.
- When and for how long would you like your garden to bloom?
- How much foot traffic does this area get?
- What’s the weather and climate like where you live?
- Have you seen any creative porch, patio or balcony garden ideas you’ve been wanting to try?
Answering these questions will help you determine when to plant, which plants to get and what kinds of outdoor planter ideas might work best in your space.
How to Set Up Your Garden
Though a patio may afford you the opportunity to plant directly in the ground, chances are you’ll be working with various above-ground planters. You can find lots of attractive and functional planters at any home and garden store or make your own out of upcycled materials. Here are some versatile, space-saving options that could work in any balcony, porch or patio garden.
Recycled or upcycled objects
Once you’ve determined what kinds of planters you’ll use, consider what colors and textures you’d like to see in your garden.
- The “thrill, fill and spill” method, developed by Martha Stewart, creates visual hierarchy of textures.
- Complementary color scheme for gardens
- Monochromatic color scheme for gardens
This can refer to the flowers in a single planter or all the plants in your garden.
Some Great Local Greenhouses to Buy Plants for Patio Gardens
There’s no better place to shop for plants than at your local greenhouse or nursery! Not only will you be supporting a local business, but the plants you buy close to home are likely to be healthier, less expensive and grown with care. The staff person ringing you out may very well have grown the plants themselves and is equipped to offer all the right advice and pointers for your garden.
Ask any of these Seacoast-area greenhouses for their detailed recommendations based on your goals, our unique climate and the New England growing season.
Best Seacoast Greenhouses
- Churchill’s Garden Center (Exeter, NH)
- Stratham Circle Nursery (Stratham, NH)
- Wentworth Greenhouses (Rollinsford, NH)
- Rolling Green Nursery (Greenland, NH)
- Blue Bell Greenhouse (Lee, NH)
- Gray Farm Greenhouses (Wells, ME)
- Woodbury Florist & Greenhouses (Portsmouth, NH)
Seacoast Summer Planting Guidelines
With a reputation for fickle weather, gardening in New England can be a bit touch-and-go. Here are a few resources to help you know when and what to plant in your patio, balcony or porch garden.
When to Plant Flowers (Annuals & Perrennials)
Ready to Start Gardening?
Even the smallest outdoor spaces benefit from a little greenery and the pops of color and texture that flowers bring. Whether you have a 24-square-foot balcony, a shared porch or a full backyard patio, incorporating a combination of beautiful plants and planters can bring any space to life.
Check out more home design tips on our blog.