Best plant to enhance your outdoor living space

Best plant to enhance your outdoor living space

Create your perfect outdoor space, start with a statement plant 

Your outdoor space is your special place which can serve a number of functions, a quiet place to escape the stresses of everyday life for a few hours, a spot where you can grow some vegetables or a party space where you can have the BBQ and cook for family and friends. Whatever your need there are lots of steps you can take to make it more appealing. Start by clearing everything away that is not needed, if you do have a small garden have a quick tidy, cut the grass, neaten the edges, dig over any bare soil. Plants are essential for softening the hard landscaping, whether planted in the garden or in a decorative container.

Best first plant for spring blossom for a small space

Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is ideal for a container if you have very limited growing space, so if you only have a back yard or a balcony and love the sight of spring blossom this little plant fits the bill perfectly. Even when it has finished flowering it retains some interest as the stems are slightly twisted. It is slow growing so won’t outgrow your space. Use a good quality peat free compost and place a piece of broken crock over the hole in the bottom of the pot so it allows water to drain freely from the compost as it doesn’t like sitting in sodden compost over the winter.

Best first plant for fragrance

David Austin shrub roses (Mary Rose, main image) are the absolute epitome of an English garden, large many petalled flowers, vigorous and deliciously scented. These roses are a good starter for beginners as they will still flower if left unpruned, in which case they can form a small climber. If planting in a container make sure it is large enough, at least 18ins x 18ins, cover the hole in the bottom with a piece of crock then fill with a dedicated rose compost. Place the container next to a seat where you can appreciate the scent. If planting in the ground add some well-rotted farmyard manure and a sprinkling of rose grow into the bottom of the hole. Many of them are bred for their resistance to black spot but if it does get this fungal disease only water from the base as watering over the rose will just further spread the disease. Cut out any diseased stems or any which are very thin and weak, keeping the centre of the bush open. If it is too bushy the air won’t be able to circulate around the plant and it will be prone to mildew. Cut the good stems back to just a couple of inches from the graft point in late autumn, if you don’t do this it will just grow tall with flowers at the very top. Our Outdoor Plant Department are only too happy to help you choose the right rose for you.

Malus Profusion

Best first tree for year round interest

Crab apple trees are a must for a small garden, interest from spring to late autumn and loved by the birds (Malus 'Profusion' pictured above). Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ is an ideal small tree and can even be grown in a container. It is fantastic for wildlife and will provide you with year round interest in the form of flowers in spring then when autumn comes you get gorgeous little apples and beautiful coloured leaves. The little apples make crab apple jelly which is delicious on toast or as an accompaniment to cold meats and cheese. If planting in the garden consider its position carefully as you don’t want it blocking light from the house or your neighbours. However, it can give you some privacy, if placed strategically, when you are enjoying your outdoor space. If planting in a container make sure it is large enough and in proportion to the size of the tree. Cover the hole in the bottom with a piece of crock to avoid it blocking with silt. Fill the container with a dedicated tree compost. Raise the pot off the ground with pot feet or a couple of bricks to allow the water to drain clean away. Grown in a container it won’t reach its full height and won’t be as long lived as if planted in the ground.

Hebe Heartbreaker

Best first plant for containers

Hebes (Heartbreaker, pictured above) are an ideal plant for growing in containers, they are evergreen, flower in summer and grow slowly. They are available in a good variety of sizes so if you want instant impact go for a large specimen. Use a good quality peat free compost and cover the hole in the base of the pot with pieces of broken crock which allows any excess water to drain away, which if allowed to remain in the compost would eventually kill the hebe as it doesn’t like sitting in cold wet compost over winter. Hebes come in a variety of colours, both the flowers and the leaves. The flowers range from white, through pinks and purples. Leaves come in dark green, silvery green, cream and green variegated and pale green. 

Best plant for a focal point in the garden

Standard bay trees provide a touch of elegance to any garden and can grace a number of areas. Plant into a classic terracotta pot and place at the end of a path, in a niche in a hedge, either side of steps leading into the garden or either side of the front door. They can be adorned with battery operated fairy lights at Christmas to provide a warm welcome. Make sure the container is large enough and in proportion to the size of the bay. Cover the hole in the base of the container with a piece of crock so that it doesn’t fill with silt, alleviating the problem of sodden compost in winter. If you can raise the container off the ground with pot feet so much the better as this allows the water to run clean away. Clip it in summer to retain its ball shape, dry the leaves to use in your cooking.

These suggested plants are just a tiny selection from the hundreds we stock in the Outdoor Plant department. Other suggestions include cordylines, palms, Euonymus elatus, olive trees and clematis. Our staff will be on hand to help you pick the perfect plant to give you pleasure when enjoying the fresh air in your special place.

Profile Image Angela Slater

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.