How to Plant Up Patio Roses in Your Garden

Modern patio roses bloom for many months, and offer those with limited space the chance to enjoy their color and fragrance. Not all roses thrive in cramped conditions, so look out for plants labeled “patio” or “miniature,” and place your containers in a sunny position for the best blooms.

When to plant: Autumn or early spring.

At their best: Early to midsummer.

Time to complete: 30 minutes.

You will need: Large container – at least 18 in (45 cm) deep, broken clay pot pieces, gravel, soil-based potting mix, well-rotted manure, slow-release fertilizer, Mycorrhizal fungi – such as Rootgrow, patio rose, such as Rosa ‘Regensberg’, Bedding plants – such as Sutera cordata (syn. Bacopa).

Prepare the container

Plant your pot in situ, since it will be heavy and difficult to move once planted. Place a layer of broken pots or plastic pieces at the bottom of the container. Add a layer of gravel to aid drainage, and then some potting mix with well-rotted manure (one part manure to ten parts soil).

Check planting depth

Place the rose, in its pot, on the soil and check that the graft union (swelling at base of stems) will be below the soil after planting. Remove or add soil to adjust the planting level, and mix in slow-release fertilizer and mycorrhizal fungi. Then remove the rose from its container and set it in the pot.

Plant up annuals

Fill around the root ball with the soil and manure mixture. Wearing gloves, firm it in gently with your hands. Leave a gap of 2 in (5 cm) between the soil and the rim of the pot to allow space for watering. For added summer color, after the frosts in late spring, plant trailing bedding plants, such as Sutera, around the edge.

Finishing touches

Water the plants well after planting; you may have to add a little more soil after watering if it exposes the roots. A mulch of well-rotted manure over the top of the soil will help retain moisture. Keep the container moist during the growing season, and stand it on “feet” during winter to make sure excess water drains away easily.


In spring, remove the top layer of soil and add some fresh soil mixed with a granular rose fertilizer, applying it according to the manufacturers’ instructions. You may need to top up with a liquid feed in the summer, but avoid doing so in late summer because this will encourage soft growth that is vulnerable to frost.

How to Use Pot-Grown Plants

Some plants, such as lavender, boxwood, holly, and privet, are not generally available in bare-root form and are grown and sold in pots. The planting technique is similar to that for bare-root types but pot-grown hedging can be planted at any time of year, as long as the soil is not frozen or very dry.

When to plant: Any time; early autumn or spring is best.

At their best: All year (evergreen); Spring to autumn (deciduous).

Time to complete: 3 hours or longer depending on hedge size.

You will need: Pot-grown holly plants – Ilex aquifolium, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, all-purpose granular fertilizer, spade, fork, stakes, garden string, watering can or hose.

Dig planting holes

Prepare the soil and mark out the area as in Steps 1 and 2 from here How to Plant a Formal Hedge. Either dig a long trench or individual holes for each plant—holes need to be as deep as the root

ball and twice as wide.

Tease out roots

If planting in spring, add some fertilizer to the excavated soil. Tease out any congested roots before planting at the same depth as the plant was in its original pot. Firm in with your foot and water well.

How to Lay a Chamomile Lawn

Sweet, soothing, scented chamomile has long been a desirable alternative to grass, and with the availability of turf, it is quick and easy to lay. Chamomile likes free-draining soil and, because it will not tolerate heavy wear and tear, is most suitable for decorative lawns or fragrant seats.

When to start: Early autumn or early spring.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 2 hours or more for larger lawns.

You will need: Chamomile turf, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, horticultural grit, all-purpose granular fertilizer, topsoil and horticultural sand.

Lay the turf

Prepare your site as for turf (How to Turf a Lawn), and if you have heavy clay, dig in lots of grit to ensure that your soil drains freely; waterlogged soil will kill chamomile. Turf will consist of Chamaemelum nobile ‘Treneague’, a nonflowering, compact plant that spreads to form a dense mat. Lay the turf in the same way as grass (check: How to Turf a Lawn).

Caring for chamomile

There’s no need to mow chamomile because it naturally grows to just 2. in (6 cm) in height. Trim it occasionally during summer, using garden shears to remove straggly growth and sideways spread. Pull out any weeds by hand before they have time to establish—do not use lawn weedkiller, which will kill the chamomile. Each spring, apply a slow release granular fertilizer and sprinkle a top dressing of sieved soil and horticultural sand over the lawn. Tread in the dressing to crush the stems, which promotes strong root growth.

How to Create a Winter Windowbox

When your summer flowers are spent, and window displays are looking bedraggled and dull, give them a quick makeover with colorful evergreens that will last the course through the coldest winter. This combination of conifers, shrubs, grasses, and herbs is guaranteed to perform for many months.

When to start: Early autumn.

At their best: Early autumn to spring.

Time to complete: 1½ hours.

You will need: Large windowbox, ericaceous potting mix, broken plastic pieces, bucket.

Selection of plants you could use: Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’, Golden thyme – Thymus pulegioides, ‘Archer’s Gold’, Leucothoe Scarletta.

Before planting

Buy a frost-resistant windowbox—this one is made from terracotta, but a plastic imitation would be best if you live in a cold, exposed area that is prone to frosts. Check that your plants fit comfortably in the container.

Soak the plants

Water each plant well, either with a watering can without a rose, or by dunking the plants in a bucket of water. Allow the bubbles to dissipate, then remove the pots and allow them to drain.

Provide good drainage

Break up a plastic plant tray and add the pieces to the bottom of the windowbox. Then add a layer of ericaceous potting mix—the Leucothoe and Gaultheria are both acid-loving plants and do best in this type of soil.

Place plants in position

Place the plants in their original pots in the windowbox and make sure that they will sit about 1 in (2 cm) below the rim when planted to allow sufficient space for watering.

Plant up and firm in

Plant up and fill in around each plant with soil, firming it in with your fingers as you go. Water well. Water your box once or twice a week in winter, and more frequently in spring.

How to Have a Luscious Leaves Garden

With their bold foliage and wide color range, hostas are the darlings of the designer world. Grow a few in pots on a shady patio for a lush, sophisticated display that will last from early summer until the autumn.

When to start: Spring.

At their best: Early summer to early autumn.

Time to complete: 2 hours.

You will need: 4 pots of different sizes, soil-based potting mix, broken clay pot pieces, slow-release fertilizer, horticultural grit.

Selection of plants you could use: Hosta ‘Francee’, Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’, Hosta fortunei var. albopicta f. aurea, Hosta ‘August Moon’.

Choosing pots

First choose suitable containers. Hosta ‘Francee’ and H. ‘August Moon’ have spreading habits and suit wide pots, while H. ‘Krossa Regal’ is more upright and looks best in a taller container. H. fortune f. aurea is small in stature, so select a little pot for this diminutive plant. Buy frostproof containers for your hostas; they are perennial plants and will pop up year after year.

Planting up

Prepare your pots according to the instructions here, and water the hostas well before planting. Add slow-release fertilizer to the compost and plant the hostas slightly deeper than they were in their original pots. Water them and apply a gritty mulch to deter slugs and snails (see Tips, below).


Hostas like damp conditions and need frequent watering, especially in summer. Use about half a full watering can on each plant, so that the moisture reaches the bottom of the pot. Take precautions against slugs and snails, and feed annually.

Tips: Slug and snail repellents

To keep your hostas free from slug and snail damage, sprinkle a few slug pellets sparingly around young plants after planting. Organic controls include pouring used coffee grounds around the plants, applying a mulch of eggshells or grit, or fixing a copper strip around each pot.

What You Need to Know about How to Take Care of Your Tree

To ensure a wide choice, buy your tree early in the season. Water it every day, and prevent needle loss by storing it in a shed, garage, or greenhouse with good natural light for a few weeks before bringing it inside. Display your tree in a cool place indoors, keeping it well watered, and repot it in the New Year.

When to plant: Late winter to early spring.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 1 hour.

You will need: Large plastic pot, broken clay pot pieces, soil-based ericaceous potting mix, sturdy gloves, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, all-purpose granular fertilizer, clippers.

Water well

When the festive season is over, store your tree for a few weeks in a shed, as you did before bringing it into the house for Christmas. Water it frequently, and don’t allow the soil to dry out.

Prepare a new container

Buy a plastic pot, which will be light and easy to move around, one size larger than the original container. Put some broken clay pot pieces over the drainage holes at the bottom and add a layer of soil on top.

Remove the tree

Wearing heavy-duty gloves, squeeze the tree’s pot around the sides to dislodge the root ball, and then slide it out. Place the tree in its new pot.

Add fertilizer

Check that there is 2 in (5 cm) between the top of the root ball and the pot rim. Fill in around the roots with soil mixed with some fertilizer.

Shape up

Water the tree well. Trim back the stems lightly with clippers to create a cone shape. If there are two stems at the top, cut one back to a bud to leave a single “leader.”

Tips: Trimming firs

Fir stems end with a three-pronged fork; to trim them, cut out the middle prong, which will stimulate bushy growth along the stem. Do not cut the single, main “leader” stem at the top.

How to Create a Woven Basket Mix

When to plant: Early autumn.

At their best: Autumn to early spring.

Time to complete: 1 hour.

You will need: Woven hanging basket, scissors, wide low pot, container potting soil, watering can.

Selection of plants you could use: Choisya ternata Sundance, Deadnettle – Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’, small ivies – Hedera helix, winter-flowering violas, haultheria procumbens.

Prepare the basket

Place the basket on a low pot to stabilize it and punch a few drainage holes in the plastic liner. Half fill the basket with potting soil, then arrange your plants on top.

Finishing touches

Remove the plants from their pots, place them in the basket and then firm them in with soil, as described in step 4 here LINK How to Plant a Winter Hanging Basket, and water well. Water baskets during dry spells.

Tip: Organic basket liner

For a natural, organic alternative to a plastic liner, use conifer clippings from a hedge or tree. These also help insulate the plants and will decompose over time and create an acidic soil environment, ideal for Gaultheria to thrive.

How to Create a Winter Hanging Basket

Seasonal hanging baskets add a splash of color to the garden throughout the coldest months. This one includes a few cyclamens, winter-flowering violas, and a range of evergreens. In colder climates, evergreen boughs and branches with berries can be combined for winter color.

When to plant: Early autumn.

At their best: Autumn to early spring.

Time to complete: 1½ hours.

You will need: Hanging basket, liner, plastic bag, wide low pot, scissors, container potting soil, newspaper, small plastic pot, watering can.

Selection of plants you could use: Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’, Heathers – Erica, Cyclamen, winter-flowering violas, Small ivies – Hedera helix.

Before you plant

Stand the basket on a wide pot to keep it stable during preparation. Then add a specially made basket liner.

Cut out planting holes

Lay a circle of plastic bag over the bottom of the liner to act as a reservoir. Cut out a few evenly spaced crosses around the sides of the liner.

Add ivy around the edge

Add a layer of potting soil to the bottom. Wrap paper around the root ball of each ivy and push them through the holes in the sides.

Plant the top and water

Add the plants and fill in around them with more soil. Firm them in. Place a small plastic pot near the center to act as a watering reservoir. Water into this pot to make sure it reaches the plants’ roots.

How to Have a Tiered Courtyard in Your Home Garden

The perfect solution for a plant-lover with a tiny plot, this dramatic show garden features tiered raised beds that are bursting with color to make the most of a small patio.

When to plant: Early spring.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 1 day to plant.

You will need: Soil-based potting mix, well-rotted organic matter, all-purpose granular fertilizer, gravel to aid drainage.

Selection of plants you could use: Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’, Fatsia japonica, Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’, Euphorbia characias Silver Swan, Agapathus – white form, Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’.

Fill the beds

Unless you have experience in this type of work, a professional should build these beds, made from medium density blocks, because they must be safe and drain freely. Once built, line them with 4 in (10 cm) of gravel and fill with soil.

Plant up

Set out the plants in their pots to check that you are happy with the display. They have been packed tightly here to give an instant effect, but in reality, they will need more space to grow.


Plant them up at the same depth as they were in their original pots, adding some granular fertilizer to the planting holes as you go. Water well, and feed the beds annually in spring. The shrubs here are evergreens, but the flowers will die down in winter.

How to Create a Year-round Shrub Display

Containers are not just for summer flowers; displays for autumn and winter often last longer and help brighten up these cold, dark months when viewed from the warmth of your kitchen or living room. Make sure that the pot you buy can withstand low winter temperatures—frost proof clay pots tend to be more expensive but should come with a guarantee and last for many years.

When to plant: Early autumn.

At their best: All year round.

Time to complete: 1½ hours.

You will need: Large frostproof container – at least 18 in (45 cm) deep and wide, broken clay pot or plastic pieces, soil-based potting mix, mulching material, all-purpose granular fertilizer.

Selection of plants you could use: Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’, Juniperus ‘Grey Owl’, Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’, Erica arborea var. alpine, ‘Albert’s Gold’

Prepare the pot

Add some broken clay pot or plastic pieces to the bottom of the container, and cover them with a layer of soil-based potting mix. Set the plants, still in their original pots, on the potting mix and check that they will sit about 2 in (5 cm) below the rim when planted. Keep them in the container, and start to fill in around them with potting mix.

Slide the plants out

Pack damp potting mix around all the pots up to their rims—only one is shown here, but the method works equally well with a few plants. Carefully slide out the plants in their pots, to leave spaces for planting.

Tip plants out of their pots

Water all the plants well before tipping them out of their plastic pots. If the roots are congested, gently

tease them out. Carefully replace them in their positions in the container, and then firm more compost into any remaining gaps.

Add a mulch

Add a layer of gravel, slate chips, or other decorative mulch over the soil. Water the container well and set it on “feet” to allow the winter rains to drain through easily. Place it where you can see it easily from the house, and continue to water it during the autumn and winter if the soil under the mulch feels dry.

Tips: annual care

The container will need watering frequently in the spring and summer. Each year in early spring, remove the mulch and top few inches of potting mix and replace it with fresh compost mixed with some all-purpose granular fertilizer. Water immediately after this, and then renew the mulch. When the plants become congested, plant them out in the garden or move to larger containers.