How to Use Plants to Decorate Your Patio

how to use plants to decorate your patio salisbury greenhouse st albert sherwood park

So your brand new patio is completed; the pavers are pristine, the patio furniture is assembled, and you’re ready to reopen your space to guests. If the space still feels like it’s missing something, chances are that your patio is sorely lacking in greenery! Potted plants add life, colour, and dimension to outdoor living spaces, but it’s not always obvious how to use them to reach your patio’s fullest potential. Here are a few tips that designers use for decorating patios with potted plants:

Using Potted Plants for Decorating a Small Patio

With smaller patios (10×12 feet or less), the goal is to create a cozy and welcoming setting using strategically-placed furniture, decor, and greenery.

  • Create a green backdrop. In most patio seating formations, some guests will be stuck with a view of a bare wall or fence. Add some visual interest either by installing a green wall or by placing tall potted plants along the edge of the patio behind your seating.
patio with green backdrop
  • Pay attention to scale. When you’re working with a small space, it’s important to ensure that none of your elements overwhelm the area, or each other! For example, if you want to use a potted plant as a centrepiece for your patio dining table, make sure there’s enough room around the pot for all your place settings, wine glasses, plus a little extra for serving dishes and pitchers. The height should also never be so tall that your guests can’t see the person sitting across from them.
  • Add natural fragrance. Nothing makes a space more inviting than good looks and sweet scents! Potted jasmine is excellent for decorating your patio while also releasing a light, gorgeous aroma in the air. Guests will never want to leave! Consider night blooming jasmine for added evening appeal.
  • Use bold plants as focal points. A large potted tropical to establish or frame a space while setting a particular “vibe” for your patio. You can show off your tallest, showiest tropicals like this all summer and move them indoors in the fall.
patio containers with flowers and foliage

Using Potted Plants for Decorating a Larger Patio

Bigger spaces mean your potted plants are good for more than simply decorating””they’re also useful for establishing flow in your overall patio layout.

  • Separate living areas with rows of plants. If your patio is large enough to hold a full dining set as well as a conversation area or outdoor sectional, potted plants make excellent informal dividers between the two. This creates two “rooms” for guests to cluster and mingle, rather than one somewhat-intimidating open space.
  • Don’t shy away from colour and texture. Large spaces can look a little bare without some visual variety. With all that room to play with, don’t be afraid to get creative with groups of container arrangements featuring a variety of flowering and foliage plants. To pull your design together, purchase matching containers in a range of sizes to show off your designs.
  • Highlight edges. A large deck can feel perfectly cozy when the railings are lined with gorgeous green foliage or vibrant flowers. If you have windows overlooking your patio area, you can also soften the edges of your window sills by adding window boxes.  
  • Frame passageways. Flank your patio doorway and any patio pillars or stairs with twin planters. This produces a nice “grand entrance” effect as people pass through and encourages them to move through the space.
pergola with flower containers

Decorating a Covered Patio with Potted Plants

Covered patios offer some added opportunities for decorating with potted plants, as well as a few challenges.

  • Two words: hanging baskets! Hanging baskets are a “˜must’ with a covered patio, especially along the edges where they can get the most light. Add some suspended bistro lighting along the patio ceiling to bring some nighttime glow and keep your flowers visible through evening gatherings.
  • Mind your exposure. Just because your plants are technically outside, doesn’t mean they’re getting the light they need. Make sure they are placed around your covered patio in a manner that allows light exposure to thrive.
  • Try some sublime climbers. If your patio is supported by pillars, slatted fencing, or any kind of trellis, climbing plants are well worth a try! Potted climbers like bougainvilleas will fill the space with colour through the summer before you prune them back and overwinter them indoors.


Looking for more patio decorating inspiration? Our two Salisbury Greenhouse locations are filled with thousands of ideas, from potted plants to garden decor and more! Stop by at our plant store in St. Albert or Sherwood Park.


Read through our Growing Guides for tips to enrich your garden! 

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