Greenfingers

The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a magnificent broadcaster, gifted gardener, brilliant author and all-round horticultural visionary. This month, Alan Titchmarsh talks about how patios are the unsung heroes of our gardens…

One garden space is often overshadowed by its accompanying and more flamboyant lush lawns, vibrant flower beds and creative garden paths. Yet, this unassuming feature deserves its moment in the sun. 

Not just a transition between indoor comfort and the wild beauty outdoors, the patio is often unheralded, yet lays as a space that blends functionality with aesthetics.

Its origins can be traced back to the courtyards of ancient times, both practical and ceremonial, and in modern gardens, patios continue this tradition, acting as the heart of outside living spaces. 

They act as the perfect plot for hospitality, where friends and family gather to share meals and moments, or alternatively as hosts of solitude, to retreat and bask in the tranquillity of nature and peace.

One of the patio’s greatest virtues is versatility. Whether it’s a sprawling terrace in a grand estate or a modest corner of a city garden, a patio can be adapted to fit any space, budget and style. 

Stone, brick, concrete and wood offer endless possibilities for customisation. From the rustic charm of weathered bricks to the sleek elegance of polished concrete, each material tells a different story, allowing you to imprint your personal style.

Some people like to tend to their patios with the same veracity as they would give their indoor arrangements, frequently sweeping, jet-washing and tidying, yet for others the lure is in an area that ages, weathers and seasons in the same way as the grass it leads out to.

What’s also interesting is the environmental benefit of a patio – something that is regularly overlooked. A well-designed patio can improve drainage, reduce water usage and support biodiversity, so by choosing penetrable paving materials and incorporating planters or border gardens, you can create a space that’s not only beautiful, but beneficial to the environment too. 

So my advice to you is to invest even more this year into this most special of spaces – so often an unsung and forgotten hero of our gardens… the humble patio.

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