If you love to garden but are short on space and time, consider planting flowers and herbs in unexpected places, such as in between your stone garden stairs! Steps can do double-duty – providing structure and interest on a sloped property, but they’re also perfect planting space for species such as creeping thyme, succulents and other varieties. Planting in the crevices around your steps can also soften the hardscape, creating a lovely, lush garden bonus. Here are some easy ideas to try:
Choose specimens that will thrive.
Just as you would when you’re designing any new flowerbed, evaluate how much sunlight your stairs get during the day, and pick your plants accordingly. Select low-growing options that will hug your stairs, so that people don’t trip on them. Some nice ones to try include creeping Jenny, prostrate Veronica, and wooly thyme.
Create the right environment.
If you want to plant in the space between treads and risers, or along the borders of a staircase, be sure to fill in those areas with plenty of well-draining compost or soil mix. Your steps will protect plants from gusty winds and blazing sun, but you’ll need to plant specimens that can withstand the heat that will be absorbed during the day through the stone or concrete. You might also need to water often, or put in an irrigation system.
Vary colors and textures.
Whether you have existing stone steps or plan to install poured-in-place concrete ones, experiment with different varieties to add interest to your garden. A mixture of sedum plants will offer plenty of texture, for example. Ask the experts at your local nursery to recommend plants that will thrive in stone or granite surroundings and that will complement the color of your stairs. Herbs like golden marjoram and flowers like coral bells and common thrift are also great choices. You can even mix in some smaller grasses such as blue sedge or big blue lilyturf as long as you don’t have too many feet stomping up and down your steps all day!
Extend your lawn upwards.
Prefer to keep things simple? You can also soften stone or concrete steps by planting turf that will echo the look of your lawn for a contemporary flair that is especially good in high-traffic outdoor spaces. Or, choose one type of plant for the entire staircase for a unified, clean look. Planting Korean grass, a slow-growing ground cover that forms mounds, is a nice choice.
Transform your staircase into a container garden
Thinking you may want to mix things up during the season or from year to year? Consider a container garden right on your steps! Whether you choose all the same pots or a bunch of different sizes and shapes, container gardens are a flexible and fun way to turn your staircase into a gorgeous focal point. Unless you have very wide stairs, though, use only one side for plants, so that visitors can safely use the steps without knocking over your flowers! Pick plants that won’t get too big – think impatiens, pansies or petunias. Have a nearby wall that you want to either hide or showcase? Plant morning glories or clematis, which will grow upwards and offer up fabulous blooms.
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