Garden Blog - Blog Post

Patio Back Online


One of the things on my “Spring Gardening Jobs” list is “Finish Winter Gardening Jobs List”. One of those that cross over the Winter/Spring season is the annual clearing, cleaning and restoring of the patio across the back of the house.

This begins in late Autumn the previous year, when the night temperatures drop towards zero, flowering is over and the more tender plants risk frost damage. The patio pots are cleared away. All of them, there were around 50 at last count. They’re either brought inside (like the Strelitzia), sequestered in the greenhouse, shed or tucked onto the lower patio against the wall for a bit of protection.

Nothing happens for a few months thereafter. The patio stays clear of “stuff” all winter. Finally in Spring, when there’s more than a remote chance of having some sunny days above 5°C, the whole patio is pressure-washed to get rid of in-grained dirt and algae, moss and other stuff that can cause black-spots on the concrete squares.

Shortly after the wash, the whole patio is sealed with, well, a sealant. This is a clear liquid, applied via a roller (like paint) that dries to a matt plastic-y finish. Two coats is enough. This sealant inhibits aforementioned dirt and soil from becoming ingrained into the stone and causing algae and black-spots to appear.

Unlike the very first year – when we discovered the original colour the patio was supposed to be – we don’t need to acid-clean and then bleach the patio before sealing. The acid and bleach was a one-time effort to reverse the neglect of many previous years. The current regime of washing and sealing is now basic maintenance and we’re even thinking of just using the sealant every other year as we build up layers of protection.

The best part comes at the end when all the pots re-emerge from their winter hiding places and congregate on the patio once more, like an old school reunion. There’s no strict plan for what pot goes where. The display every year is different and unpredictable.

With the patio restored, I can look forward to a season of lounging on it, enjoying the sun while surrounded by pots of flowering plants. There’s still a couple more steps to go to bring everything together. The hanging baskets, bench, annual plants, staging and Strelitzia won’t join the patio until around May, when the nights are always above 5°C. New this year is that I’m thinking of stringing the outdoor Christmas lights along the post-and-rope fence.

However it turns out, the patio is one of the most time-intensive, work-intensive and changeable parts of the garden, but every window at the back looks out onto it. It’s the most visible part of the garden and the most accessible. It’s also never the same twice. This makes the patio an odd contrast of being as solid as the concrete it is made from, but also ethereal; continually changing from month to month, season to season and year to year.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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susan maclean 25/03/2020 - 8:05 am

Lovely! that last pic looks as though you live in Italy (in normal times). Enjoy every day you get to sit out.

Sunil 26/03/2020 - 5:09 pm

Thanks, Mrs Mac, I am going for that sun-drenched mediterranean terrace feel. It all comes from the fact that the house was advertised with an upper and lower terrace (oh the disappointment when we first saw it). Ever since, I’ve been trying to make it live up to its name through an overabundance of terracotta.

Casa Mariposa 26/03/2020 - 5:12 pm

It looks great! I have good memories of that patio. It looks like my trip to England will be postponed til 2021. Til we meet again…!! :o)

Sunil Patel 26/03/2020 - 5:31 pm

Thanks, Tammy, it’s a shame your visit will be postponed, but that will give me an extra year to continue trying to finish the garden before you turn up!

Jason Kay 26/03/2020 - 7:43 pm

The pressure washing looks good. I need to do the same with some of the walls of our house. Do you rent the equipment? Shockingly I have never done it before.

Sunil 29/03/2020 - 2:32 pm

Thanks Jason, pressure washers aren’t too expensive so we have our own. The cost of hiring one four or five times would be the same and just buying one outright. It’s difficult to get the difference in the “before” and “after” across in pictures so I’m glad you spotted it.

Jean 06/04/2020 - 1:58 am

Sunil, You can’t make any credible claim to being OCD if you allow those patio pots to go in different places each year 😉

Sunil 07/04/2020 - 9:41 am

Hmm, you might have a point there, at least now I know I’m not at the very end of the scale, but perhaps within sight of it.


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