A Guide To Patio Trees

When you spend a lot of time on your patio you obviously want it to look as attractive as possible. While decorative paving plays its part, it’s always nice to add some natural appeal in the form of plants and trees. Patio trees may sound a little intimidating at first but they are a really excellent way to add height and colour interest to your outdoor area.

What are patio trees?

Patio trees are usually grown in containers or large pots and are used to create a focal point in your patio area. They can be used to frame a doorway, section off an area of the garden or simply decorate. Many of us have smaller gardens than we’d ideally like and patio trees are a great replacement for regular trees as they take up much less space.

If you rent your property or aren’t yet in your ‘forever home’ then patio trees are ideal as you can take them with you when you move. Growing in a pot also means you can plant a tree close to the house without worrying about growing roots damaging your home or patio.

Look for slow-growing, dwarf or lollipop trees. These generally do well in containers and won’t get too big too quickly. You’ll find a wide range of shapes, colours and sizes to choose from so you can get creative and design a gorgeous outdoor space to enjoy.

Flamingo Willow Patio Tree
Flamingo Willow Patio Tree

How to pick the right tree for your home

One of the first things you should think about when choosing the right patio tree is growth and spread. Research how big the tree is likely to get and ensure you have plenty of room to accommodate it. Remember to look at the tree’s predicted ultimate or eventual size to ensure it doesn’t outgrow the space.

Don’t forget to check whether your preferred tree is suitable for your patio. Take into account things like whether the selected spot is south facing and how much shelter the tree requires. Some trees, such as the Ceanothus Concha prefer a sheltered sunny spot while others, like the Acer Inaba Shidare are happy enough in partial shade.

Colour and Fruit

Another thing to consider is the tree’s flowering season. For spring and summer colours a Hydrangea Macrophylla or Calliandra Dixie Pink is a perfect choice. The Weigela Minor Black provides attractive autumn colour while an evergreen such as the Ilex Golden King keeps its colour and interest through the winter months. Evergreen trees have the added bonus of maintaining privacy screening through the winter months when deciduous trees are bare.

Alternatively, you may wish to incorporate a patio tree into your garden kitchen by choosing one that produces fruit. Not only do you get to add greenery and blossom to your outdoor area, but you also benefit from growing tasty pears, apples, peaches and more.

Hydrangea Macrophylla Patio Tree
Hydrangea Macrophylla Patio Tree

Selecting the right container

Selecting the right container is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the health of your patio tree. As well as complementing the style of your outdoor space, the container should be big enough to hold the rootball of the tree. Don’t be tempted to plant your tree in a pot that’s too large for it. Instead, repot every two to three years as the tree grows.  Make sure your container has plenty of drainage holes to ensure the soil doesn’t get waterlogged during wet weather spells.

You’ll also want to consider the material of the container. Traditional terracotta and stone pots look great and provide extra weight to prevent the tree from being blown over in strong winds. However, you may find resin containers are easier to move around and hold moisture better.

Caring for patio trees

Trees in containers do dry out much quicker than those planted in the ground so you’ll need to make sure it is watered regularly, particularly during the summer months. Bear in mind that the container is likely to be deep so provide plenty of water to reach even the deepest roots. Check the soil’s moisture regularly, even after rain showers as branches and foliage may shelter it from rain.

Fertilise during the flowering or fruit-bearing season and replace the top layer of compost every spring to give the tree a fresh boost of nutrients. You may also wish to prune occasionally to maintain the tree’s size and shape.

Photinia Little Red Robin Patio Tree
Photinia Little Red Robin Patio Tree

Winter care

Your patio trees are likely to need a bit more TLC over the winter months than trees planted in the ground would. Ground planted trees have additional root protection in the form of ground cover and the tips of their roots aren’t so likely to be exposed to frosty temperatures that can make them vulnerable. If your garden isn’t big enough to temporarily plant the tree out then one option is to create a cold barrier around the pot. You can do this by either wrapping the container in protective materials or ‘planting’ it by creating a fence around the pot and adding compost and mulch to the gap. You may wish to bring your patio tree indoors over the winter months. Before you do, check for pests and fungus and apply a treatment to eradicate the problem before bringing the tree inside.

The right tree in the right place can add interest, colour and height to the garden and adds greenery to an otherwise bare space. If your patio is looking a bit sparse or you want to brighten up a small outdoor space then patio trees are a practical and affordable way to make the area more attractive.

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