'Red Dragon' begonia, coleus, and other plants in blue, green, and purple pots edge a patio
Photo: Mark Lohman
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Adequate Use

Q: How can I ensure a patio will really be used?

A: To work as an outdoor room, a patio needs some sense of enclosure. My main patio wraps around the back of my house, so it's L-shaped, about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. I also have a dining patio in the shade that's 15 by 15. In both places, I put out lots of containers to create that sense of enclosure. It's important to provide comfortable seats and plenty of places to set down a cup.

Shown: A bright display for a shady spot, 'Red Dragon' begonia, colorful coleus, and other plants in blue, green, and purple pots edge the patio behind Proctor's house.
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