Plants Between Patio Paving

The best spot for a patio is the one with the most sun. It should also be convenient to the house, provide a good view, privacy, space for eating and relaxing, and some shade. Climbers grown up trellis can provide privacy and hide eyesores. Remember that traffic lines should not be impeded by furniture or plants.


If the area is already paved you can introduce plants by removing some of the slabs. Solid concrete will need to be broken up and replaced; as this is expensive you might consider using low tubs of plants on top of the concrete instead.

Choosing the paving

  • Concrete paving is widely available, and comes in many colours and shapes. Try to avoid cutting the slabs, as they tend to crumble when cut.
  • Stone paving, with its uneven shape and finish, has an attractive natural look that concrete can’t match. But it is very expensive, and more difficult to lay. Brick creates a country garden look and can be used to make curved outlines. Bricks should be exterior quality and frost-proof.
  • Cobbles of beach pebbles laid close together can be arranged to form decorative patterns.
  • Quarry tiles have a Mediterranean appeal. Check they are frost-proof. Gravel comes in several colours, and is fairly inexpensive. Like shingle, it allows weeds to grow through.

Creating steps

When planting a paved area think of any steps that may be necessary as part of the overall design and choose materials that will blend. Low, wide steps look very attractive, if you have the space. Avoid very smooth surfaces (which can easily become slippery) and set treads at a slight angle so that water will not lie on them and freeze in cold weather.

On wide steps you can use plants to spill over the edges, breaking up any hard lines.

Plant choice

Spring miniatures

  • Arabis blepharophylla makes a neat hummock and has a mass of deep rose flowers. (Evergreen — sun or semi-shade.)
  • Phlox subulata, Oakington Blue Eyes is a mat-forming plant covered in blue flowers. White, pink, crimson, lavender and violet also available. (Evergreen.)
  • Iris danfordiae are small yellow Iris, and Iris histrio aintabensis are bright blue. (Moist shade — flower early February.) Primroses come in a huge range of colours, thanks to the work done by professional plant breeders. The flowers have a beautiful fresh fragrance. Plant them in the garden later in the year.
  • English Daisy has miniature varieties in a range of colours: Pamponette and Buttons in white, pink and red. (Perennial — flower from early Spring to June or July.)

Small summer-flowering plants

  • Erigeron have long-flowering pink, blue, violet or white daisy-like flowers. (Perennial — full sun.)
  • Lobelia come compact or trailing. Blue with white centres: Mrs. Clibran; bright magenta with white:
  • Rosamund; Deep blue: Crystal Palace; pale blue: Cambridge; white: Snowball; red trailing, Red Cascade. (Annual — moist soil, will tolerate part shade.)
  • Miniature Roses flower over a long period and come in a huge range of colours. (Perennial — sunny position.)
  • Pansies come in a wonderful range of colours and there are varieties that flower in spring, in summer and in autumn.
  • For summer try Swiss giants, velvety petal with attractive markings; for winter flowers choose Ullswater. (Grow from seed and plant in full sun or half-shade.)
  • Pinks flower through summer into autumn and some, such as Cheddar Pink Dianthus gratianopolitanus, are wonderfully scented.
  • Raoulia australis forms a silvery mat and has fluffy, pale yellow flowers. (Needs sun, and light, sandy, well-drained soil.)

Autumn varieties

  • Heathers in white, pink, lilac and deep purple can be found to flower through most of the winter. (Need light spot and well-drained soil.)
  • Polygonum affine, ‘Darjeeling Red’ has spikes of red flowers.
  • Liriope muscari has rush-like evergreen leaves and spikes of small pretty violet flowers.
  • Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ has scented leaves which colour in autumn, and white flowers in early spring. (Perennial, sun or shade.)
  • Nasturtium majus has gold, orange and brown flowers produced from mid-summer to mid-autumn. (Annual.) Plants between the Paving
  • Creeping plants that spill over some of the paving slabs of a patio add character, colour and softness to the whole area.

Choosing plants

Pink flowering varieties

  • Moss Phlox Phlox subulata has flowers in deep rose. Brilliant, salmon pink ‘Camla’, shocking magenta ‘Temiscaming’ and bright pink ‘Marjory’ all flower in spring. Trim after flowering.
  • Thrift Armeria maritima has short, spiky leaves and bright pink flowers in summer.
  • Dianthus neglectus is a low-growing, rock garden variety with bright pink, fringed single flowers.

Blue flowering varieties

  • Veronica V. pros trata, a vigorous trailing and mat forming plant, has bright blue spikes of flowers in early summer.
  • Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum ‘Heavenly Blue’, with a white Erythronium) flowers in spring.
  • Campanula C. poscharskyana bears blue star-shaped flowers.

Yellow flowering varieties

  • St John’s Wort Hypericum rhodopaeum has large pale yellow or golden flowers in spring and early summer.
  • Raoulia australis has a silver mat of leaves and fluffy pale yellow flowers in spring.

Red flowering varieties

  • Sedum spurium ‘Erdblut’ has bright red flowers.
  • Penstemon newberryi bright red cone-shaped flowers.

Grey and silver plants

  • Catmint Nepeta mussinii has grey—green leaves and mauve-blue flower spikes all summer. Cats love it.
  • Silver Carpet Cerastium tomentosum bears a mass of small white flowers over silver-grey leaves.
  • Artemisia A. schmidtiana ‘Nana’ makes a cushion of silver filigree leaves.
  • Chrysanthemum haradjanii forms mats of fern-like silver leaves.

Low-growing herbs

  • Thyme forms a low evergreen bush with tiny greyish leaves and mauve flowers. Sprinkle on salads, steak and fish.
  • Lemon Balm has bright, furry, deeply-veined leaves and insignificant creamy white flowers.
  • Chives have slender, grass like leaves and tiny, purple thistle-like flowers.

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