Engaging the Senses - How to Create the Perfect Patio

What does your perfect patio look like? Feel like? Smell, taste and sound like? We believe the ideal area engages all five senses; by embracing yours you can make your patio into a magical space to relax, unwind and be inspired.

How to Create a Patio for All 5 Senses

1. Create a Patio for Sight

Sitting on your patio at night requires a little extra light than if you’re enjoying the scenery during the day. We recommended using light to create a welcoming ambiance on the patio.

  • LightingCandles: You can start by placing candles under clear containers, so you have the flicker of the candle without needing to constantly get up and re-light the wick. Alternatively, you can use battery operated "candles" to create a similar look and feel. As Martha Stewart recommends, “Gather clear apothecary bottles and fill them with lamp oil and wicks. Arrange the bottles under a large hurricane for protection,” though any glass bottle or container will do. Nice, rustic looking lanterns, citronella candles and torches will also add charm and the right amount of light to your patio. 
  • Light Strings: Another lighting option is to include a charming string of lights around your patio. Depending on the look you are going for, you can change the color of the bulbs for a dramatic or whimsical effect.
  • Outdoor Sconce: If you’re particularly handy, another viable option is to add outdoor sconces. Click here for step-by-step instructions on installing your own.
  • Outdoor Art: Depending on how you see it, just about everything can be considered art and pleasing to look at. Fill your patio with different shapes, rocks, sculptures and canvas art for a unique and exciting look.

You Don’t Need to See Everything…

While adding light is a great way to address your sense of sight, you may not want to show off everything on your patio, yourself included.

Privacy ScreenHere are some gorgeous ways you can give yourself a little privacy while enjoying your space:

  • Rain Chains: You can hang a series of rain chains in a row to create a curtain around your patio and engage with another sense: sound. According to Rain Chains online, “Rain chains drain water to the ground from your gutter like a waterfall, they are beautiful and sound great! Rain chains make a terrific and unique gift - every home is improved by these elegant outdoor accessories.”
  • Privacy Screens: If rain chains aren’t your style (and because we don’t get that much rain), you can create a privacy screen with old doors or a fence around the area you want to be visually protected. You can also make a screen with bamboo sticks for a unique look.
  • Trellis: To add even more beauty to your patio, consider a trellis and your favorite vine. Some of our favorites include: Asian Jasmine, Creeping Fig and Pink Trumpet Vine.
  • Potted Trees: Have you ever thought about a tree on your patio? What about one that grows delicious summer fruits? Dwarf citrus trees can make an excellent addition; they can be grown just off the patio as an accent tree or on the patio itself in a container to offer additional privacy. Plus, you have the added benefit of their scented spring blooms giving way to tasty summer fruits!
  • Vertical Gardens: Create a growing wall of green in your garden by vertically hanging plants on a screen or structure.
  • Hanging Plants: One final way to create a barrier of privacy is through hanging plants. Succulents make for wonderful hanging baskets and Dennis Schrader of Landcraft Environments in Mattituck, New York, shared his basket-planting tips with Martha Stewart online; here’s what he had to say:
    1. Begin with a soil mix that has good drainage. If you're using a regular mix, add perlite, coarse sand, or gravel.
    2. Ruff up the roots a bit to let the plant know it's out of its pot.
    3. Plant the succulents at the same depth at which they were growing in the pot. Place trailing plants along the edges and compact plants in the middle and sides.
    4. In the fall, the baskets can be brought inside and hung in a large, sunny window.

2. Create a Patio for Sound 

Bird in FountainHave you ever noticed the wonderful sounds a patio garden can bring and attract? Perk up your ears by adding these elements to your garden.

  • Fountains: Fountains come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there is a perfect one out there for your patio. Relax to the sounds of running water right next to you.
  • Birds: Birds play an important role in our garden’s ecosystem. They control plant-eating pests like aphids and snails, and they assist with flower pollination by spreading nectar. Birds such as sparrows, finches and many others eat weed seeds, eliminating those unwanted plants. And last but not least, birds can act as stress relievers with their melodic songs and happy movement as they show you how much they appreciate the natural habitat you so kindly created for them. Birds appreciate a nice bird bath and feeder where they can eat a little something from your patio. If you want to attract birds where they can sing you a little song, plant these flowers: Ironwood, Desert Marigold, Blue Palo Verde and Desert Hackberry.
  • Wind Chimes: Wind chimes are another great source of sound to add to your patio. When that cool breeze rolls by, you’ll be treated to the sound of your hanging chimes. These decorations come in a variety of types including bamboo, seashell, beaded and more; which is your favorite sound?

3. Create a Patio for Scent

Comfortable PatioWhile you’re enjoying the sights and sounds of your patio garden, wouldn’t it be nice to smell something pleasant? Here are some of our favorite scented flowers that will have you closing your eyes and taking in a deep breath of their pleasing aromas.

  • Jasmine: Jasmine flowers produce an aromatic, sweet rich fragrance when blooming. They grow best in full sun, so place them in a spot on your patio that gets a lot of light.
  • Gardenias: Gardenias are often found in perfumes and can be enjoyed in your patio garden. HGTV described the aroma as a, “Sweet, heady scent that will make you savor sultry summer evenings like never before.” Who wouldn’t want to relax next to that scent?
  • Roses: Roses are one of the most classic aromas that people crave. Some of the best smelling roses include Honey Perfume, Fragrant Plum, Autumn Damask and Mister Lincoln.

You can find more information on creating a pleasant scented patio in this link.


4. Create a Patio for Taste

Fresh herbs are one of the greatest additions to any meal, and many gardeners grow them right on their patio! Imagine needing chives for your favorite dish, stepping out your door and getting them fresh from the pot! Using fun and decorative containers (perfect for your sense of sight) you can grow your very own patio herb garden. Here are a few of our favorite herbs alongside tips for using and growing them.

Fresh HerbsBasil

  • Uses: The leaves have a warm, spicy flavor, which is perfect for soups, sauces, salads, omelets, meat, poultry, fish and a base for pesto.
  • Planting: Sow seeds directly into your container, then transplant your basil to the garden in early summer if you decide to move them off your patio.

Chives

  • Uses: These leaves have a mild onion flavor. Chop them up and add them to salads, egg and cheese dishes, cream cheese, mashed potatoes, sandwich spreads, and sauces.
  • Planting: Sow seeds into your container a ½ inch deep and in rows 12 inches apart.

Mint

  • Uses: Brew leaves into tea, or to garnish cold drinks. Spearmint is generally used to make mint sauce or jelly. You can also sprinkle dried or fresh leaves over lamb before cooking. They also make a nice dessert; dip large mint leaves in chocolate and let them harden for a sweet light treat. Mint is also great for digestion.
  • Planting: Plant 4- to 6-inch pieces of root 2 inches deep and 12 inches apart in your container. This plant may be best to grow by itself as the roots have a tendency to dominate the container.

You can also click here for information on our favorite edible flowers to consider for your patio.


5. Create a Patio for Touch

When designing your patio, it’s important to consider the space around you and what you’ll be able to feel and touch as relax. Do you want to utilize every inch available or do you want a more open flow? Keep these tips in mind as you begin to create your own patio garden:

  • Scented PatioContainer Size: Round containers can take up more space. Consider pottery that has a flat back and can be placed against or hung on a wall.
  • Stands: Try pots on stands to fill your space vertically and create tiers of interest.
  • Comfortable Seating: Select seating that fits in your space with fabric you can’t help but touch and provides the comfort you desire.  

Don’t Forget About the Kiddos!

Kids can’t help themselves; they want to touch everything! Here are a few suggestions from HGTV that are safe for kids to feel with their fingers: Allium, Verbascum and Hyacinth.


Enjoying Your Patio with All Five Senses

The best patio gardens address all five senses: sight, sound, scent, taste and touch. Contact us today to learn how we can help you build your perfect space that hits every sense and becomes an oasis right outside your door.

About SummerWinds Nursery
A leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds Garden Centers, Inc. operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the nation. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.