How to arrange pots on a patio - 6 tips for adding plants to a paved over space

You’ve heard of flower arranging, but have you heard of pot arranging?

Patio courtyard with potted plants and bistro set
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re looking to brighten up your patio space with flowers, herbs, or maybe even some homegrown tomatoes, how to arrange pots on a patio is something you need to think about. 

Even the most impressive patio ideas can be ruined by an overload of pots. They can get in the way, they can make the space feel cramped, and they can make your outdoor living space look incredibly messy. But that doesn’t mean that you have to avoid pots altogether; you just need to know how to arrange them in a way that complements your small garden ideas

To help your container garden ideas work with your patio rather than against it, we’ve consulted with the experts and outlined the six very important things you need to consider when adding pots and plants to your patio. 

How to arrange pots on a patio 

 ‘Having potted flowers around your garden is great for adding colour to smaller gardens and patios, and you can never really have too many,’ explains Alick Burnett, Managing Director at Blooming Artificial

But patios are typically smaller, practical spaces - so you need to make sure that you arrange them in a way that doesn’t encroach on much-needed space, which is why it takes a slightly different approach to simply understanding how to arrange pots in a garden.

1. Consider the size of your space

Large pot next to outdoor sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you have a small patio, you might assume that you can’t have any potted plants. But that’s not the case. You can add these planters and pots to your patio, but you need to consider your space before giving anything a permanent home. 

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, explains, 'Before arranging your pots or even buying new ones, it's really important to consider the exact size and layout of your patio space. Not every patio space will be large, and too many pots in a small space can look overcrowded. I recommend always leaving enough space for proper walking areas and seating areas if this is what you want to use your patio for.’

No patio would be complete without the best garden furniture, after all. So it would be a shame to lose space for sitting down with friends and family because there are too many pots in the way. 

If you are stuck for space, something that makes use of vertical space rather than floor space would work better. Like this 3 Tier Wooden Plant Stand from Homebase, for example. 

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.

2. Group them together

Two wooden deckchairs on decking surrounded by pots of flowering plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Max Attenborough)

When adding pots to your patio, you might be torn between keeping them solo or grouping them. Ultimately, most experts agree that grouping a few pots is the best way to make the most of your patio, especially if you are trying to add greenery to a courtyard garden idea.

‘I recommend grouping together 3 to 5 plant pots, helping to create a thought-out appearance of your patio,’ explains Steve. ‘Place them in the corners, and feel free to group together similar pots, flowers or colours, or completely different ones.’

The beauty of adding pots to a patio is the fact that you can change your arrangement however you want. In fact, you might even have to test out ten different combinations before you finally settle on the perfect grouped selection of pots. 

This is echoed by Alick, who adds, ‘On a patio, try mixing and matching different-sized pots with various colours and flower types to create a wild, country garden look and combine them with grasses and different varieties of foliage to add height and extra interest to your pots.’

Just be wary that size matters when it comes to these pots. Steve says, ‘Place taller pots at the back of a grouping in order to make sure all the plants can be seen and reached easily.’

3. Think about the required growing conditions

courtyard garden

(Image credit: Future Plc)

When you put so much thought into a container garden, you want it to thrive. However, arranging pots on your patio can result in dead plants if you’re not careful. Because of this, you need to think about the required growing conditions of your chosen plants.

Steve explains, ‘It's vital to consider the location of pots on your patio, not because of the overall appearance, but because of the individual needs of each plant. Always make sure to strategically place pots based on their sunlight and shade needs.’

It’s also important to consider this when buying plants or pre-potted planters for your patio. If your patio is north-facing, opting for plants that require a lot of sunlight will not work in your favour. 

Plus, these requirements can also affect where you place them. Jamie Shipley, Gardening Expert and Managing Director of Hedges Direct, says, 'Be sure to group together plants that require similar amounts of sunlight and care together as it will be time-saving when looking after your potted plants.'

4. Plan a seasonal arrangement

Terracotta plant pots

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You probably don’t need us to tell you that your garden looks very different in the spring than it does in the autumn. With weather changes come blooming changes, and if you want to keep your patio pots blooming all year round, you might want to change them with the seasons. 

‘Think about seasoning arranging,’ says Steve. ‘Just like arranging pots in a garden, consider switching up the arrangements of your pots on the patio to accommodate seasonal plant changes, or just to refresh the look throughout the year.’ 

For example, if you've planted spring bulbs in pots these will look wonderful clustered together in April and May but can be dispersed and merged with other green plants as their blooms die back.

If you don't have space to move your plant pots around that much then be smart with your planning and consider planting a bulb lasagne, or plants that will provide interest all year round.

5. Incorporate insect-repellent plants

White pots in corner of garden patio

(Image credit: Future PLC)

More and more people are trying to attract wildlife into their gardens, and there are certainly major perks to inviting bees and other insects to enjoy our plants. However, you need to be careful of this when arranging pots on a patio.

Jamie says, 'Many put garden furniture on their patio and relax in this space, so choose plants that don’t attract too many insects, so you can relax and enjoy the comfort of your garden.'

So, do a little research into your potted plants and arrange them accordingly. 

6. Mix and match your pots

Courtyard garden with fence and shrubs, plants in pots and rattan chair with cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/JOANNA HENDERSON)

Knowing how to arrange pots on a patio is largely focused on the plants inside the pots, but what about the colours and the patterns on the outside of your pots? Mixing and matching your pots is key if you want to make a big visual impact. 

‘When you're placing pots on a patio, you run the risk of adding too many pots together of the same colour, which winds up making the patio look boring and dull,’ explains Steve.

‘If this is the case, I recommend mixing up your "pot" materials, such as using a variety of terracotta, metal, plastic, ceramic and more. You should also include a variety of pot colours.’ 

If you wanted to, you could even paint your own flower pots to make a fully bespoke pot arrangement on your patio. 


How do you decorate a patio with pots?

When decorating a patio with pots, you first need to consider your space. If you only have a small patio, you may need to focus on using vertical space rather than floor space and invest in plant stands for your pots. 

If you have a larger patio, aim to group 3-5 pots together, mixing and matching the heights of the plants, the variety of plants, and the colours and textures of the pots. Just remember to make a note of the growing requirements and the seasonal changes of these plants so you can take proper care of them. 

How do you group pots together?

On a patio, you should group between 3 and 5 pots together. This will ensure that you create a real statement without taking up too much of the valuable space. 

Aside from that, you have choices. You could choose to clump many of the same plants together, or you could go wild and play with different colours, textures, fragrances, and sizes. 

Doing the latter will definitely create a bigger visual impact. 

So, how will you be arranging the pots on your patio?

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.