Structures & Surfaces

Get the know-how on looking after paths, beds and lots more

Permeable paving

To help reduce flooding and subsidence think about using permeable paving, which allows rainwater to pass through and looks attractive too.

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  • ©RHS PUB0031281

    African violet ( Saintpaulia )

    Saintpaulias, commonly known as African violets are widely grown, attractive houseplants originating from tropical East Africa. They are available in a many colours from white, through pink and red to purple and various flower types. With careful cultivation they can flower for many months and the compact plants are ideal for small spaces such as windowsills.

  • Moss can add character to garden features. Image: John Trentholm/RHS

    Algae, lichens, liverworts and moss

    Algae, lichens, liverworts and moss are often found growing in damp or shady places in the garden on plants, soil and hard surfaces. They do not cause any harm, and can usually be tolerated as they can give a mature look to a garden. But they can make paths and lawns slippery and make ponds and borders unsightly so control is sometimes necessary.

  • Algae on paths can make them slippery. Image: John Trentholm/RHS

    Algae, lichens, liverworts and moss on hard surfaces

    It is common to find growths such as algae, lichens, liverworts and moss growing on hard surfaces. Contrary to popular belief, they do not damage what they are growing on, but can cause patios, drives, paths and steps to become slippery.

  • Algae and moss in a greenhouse. Credit: RHS Advisory

    Algae, liverworts and moss on greenhouses

    Green growths such as algae, liverworts and moss can accumulate on the glazing and surfaces of greenhouses, where they are unsightly and cut out light. They can be controlled by improving hygiene and ventilation.

  • © RHS PUB0040372


    In the UK avocadoes are grown as houseplants for foliage interest until becoming too large. In places where frost is rare they are occasionally seen growing outside as trees. For most, though, growing an avocado indoors from the stone is a better bet and fun for adults and children alike.

  • ©RHS PUB0029288

    Azaleas indoors

    The many cultivars of Rhododendron simsii (often called Rhododendron indicum) are popular pot plants which are brought on, or ‘forced’, in warm, humid conditions for sale at Christmas.

  • Bananas


    Bananas (Musa and Ensete spp.) produce large, elegant leaves and the occasional bunch of fruits, which certainly make a majestic addition to any garden or conservatory. Although they are tender plants, some species are hardy enough to leave outside over winter, especially in the milder parts of the UK, so they are worth experimenting with in the garden.

  • brugmansia

    Brugmansia (angel's trumpet)

    This evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub makes a large, striking container plant for a conservatory or cool greenhouse. It is grown for its bold, trumpet-shaped flowers, which are often deliciously scented. Although these plants are not fully hardy, they can be positioned outdoors during the frost-free summer months.

    Brugmansia were once known as Datura, but that name is now used only for certain annual or short-lived plants with similar but less pendulous flowers.

  • Bulbs for Christmas Flowering

    Bulbs for Christmas flowering

    Enjoy the intoxicating fragrance of hyacinths and the dramatic blooms of amaryllis (Hippeastrum), 'Paper White' daffodils and other bulbs for Christmas and New Year. These bulbs are readily available and easy to grow in just a few months.

  • Euphorbia horrida RHS/Carol Sheppard

    Cacti and succulents

    This plant group is extremely vast and diverse, from the very small and intricate to the striking and architectural. There is a cactus or succulent to suit everyone, whether young or old.

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