Adding Plants to Cracks in the Patio may be Cheaper than Repairs Adding Plants to Cracks in the Patio may be Cheaper than Repairs

If your patio is showing signs of age with cracks in the walls and walkways, it may be more economical to plant those spots with drought resistant plants than trying to repair them. There are many attractive plants that will grow well in cracks, crevices and small pockets. The tips here will work best with a patio design created out of paving stones or slabs of flat rocks. If you have a cement patio, it will be difficult to bust out an area for these techniques unless the cement is old and has areas that are cracked badly. Busting out cement may require the use of a jackhammer. If your patio has been done with paving stones or flat rocks, you can remove several of those to create unique patterns in your patio landscape and fill the areas with plants, or create geometric designs too.

Large planting pockets or beds are good for shrubs and climbers but need to be in an area that isn’t used often. Remove a rock slab or paving stone from your patio landscape. If the slabs have been mortared in you can use a hammer and chisel to break them free.

After removing the slab, bust up the soil underneath. If the soil is in poor condition, remove some of it and replace it with quality loam-based soil or organic matter.

Plant the pocket the way you would a flower bed, adding large plants first and then filling in the gaps with smaller plants. If you are planting a shrub bush, use it as the only plant in the pocket.

After the plants or shrub bush is planted, add some mulch around the base and then cover the dirt with some decorative stones. This will not only look pretty but will help hold moisture in as well and prevent soil erosion.

Remember that even though you are planting drought resistant plants, they will need to be watered regularly until they are established, just like any other plant.

You can also plant in the cracks of paving. Brick paving works well for this. Choose an area that is less traveled so it adds naturalization but won’t be trampled on by people very often. You will want to use ground-hugging, drought resistant plants for these areas. These plants will also help prevent weeds from coming back if you’re fighting weeds in the cracks of your paved walkways and other areas.

To prepare the crack, remove any weeds. If you have tough weeds you may want to use a weed killer that will kill the roots out in a week or so. Dig out any loose soil, as much as you can. This can be done with a screwdriver or small scraper. Add a good loam based soil mixture back into the crack and use the screwdriver to remove any air pockets. Pack the loam firmly but not too firm.

If you are planting seeds you will want to spread them thin and even. Keep the soil misted with water daily until they grow. After they’ve grown a bit, thin them out leaving only the strongest plants.

To plant the crack with small plants, take the root ball and form it into a wedge shape. Ease it down into the soil, adding a little more soil if needed and begin misting it with a sprayer. Keep it misted daily until it becomes established.You may need to shield the new plants if a heavy rain comes so they don’t wash away.

Crevices in garden walls or even short walls around raised beds can be planted in a similar method as planting cracks. The crevices in the wall must be large enough to hold the root ball of the plant and deep enough for the roots to take hold. There also needs to be a shelf or lip-type stone at the bottom of the crevice to prevent the soil and plant from eroding. Use only hardy, drought resistant plants when planting in crevices. They should also be watered frequently until they become established.

The following is a list of plants that make good choices in each of the situations mentioned above.

Plants for cracks:

Aubrieta deltoidea, Dianthus deltoids, Erinus alpinus, Scabiosa graminifolia, and Thymus.

Plants for crevices:

Globularia cordifolia, Lewisia tweedyi, Saxifraga callosa, Sedum spathulifolium, Sempervivum, and Thymus.

Plants for pockets:

America maritime, Campanula portenschlagiana, Cerastium tomentosum, Sedum telephium, and Veronica prostrate.

Using plants in cracks and crevices will soften the look and feel of the patio area and add a bit of charm. It is especially good for those who want a less formal looking patio and will be much easier on the pocketbook than costly repairs.

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