Patio Design: Where to Begin

There's lots to consider when it comes to patio design, but follow this guide and you'll be on your way to a new outdoor space asap...

A large landscaped garden that is very modern in its look and appearance

No one has appreciated their gardens and outdoor spaces as much as they did over lockdown, and if you haven’t already, now’s the time to reconsider your patio design. The exterior social hub of your home, a patio can be the place to meet and chat over drinks, BBQs and al-fresco dining, as well as the perfect place to sit back and relax catching some rays or watch the kids play around the garden. There’s lots to consider when it comes to patio design, but follow this guide and you’ll be on your way to a new space asap…
A large landscaped patio

Consider the intended use

A patio’s layout and location in a garden should be dictated by how you want it to be used. The furniture that a patio will house should determine its plan. If you intend to have large groups of people using your patio, it will need lots of well-spaced out furniture and need to be of an adequate size to fit it all in. If it’s likely to be used all year round, you may wish to consider a pergola or other covering and so it may need to be situated along a long, clear wall for this purpose. 
Once you’ve decided what furniture you intend to put on your patio, you can work out the space you’ll need. Don’t just factor in how big the furniture is (or will likely be), but also plan the negative space around the furniture. Ideally, you need at least one metre between furniture items for ease of mobility and access; and to stop it looking too cluttered. If your patio is raised and doesn’t have railings, consider giving even more negative space around items to avoid anything blowing or toppling off in adverse weather (or even just by accident).
Draw everything out to scale (ish – it doesn’t need to be a professional job!) and you’ll soon start to formulate an idea of how it could all look in your head. If you need more of an idea of the space the new patio will take up, rope cordon off the space in your garden to judge.

Zone out different areas

If you’d like to use your patio for more than one thing, zone it out like you would a large open plan room. This too can be planned out using a basic drawing. Place zones in the most convenient areas – outdoor dining areas as close as possible to the kitchen drawers, ensure sunbathing chairs aren’t likely to be in shade for much of the day, and keep only pleasant smelling plants close to anywhere that you intend to sit or lounge in for a long time. Any children’s areas should be placed close to grass and not complicated flowerbeds… or they may be likely to experience swift destruction!

Choose an appropriate patio material

Unless you spend a great deal of time landscape gardening you probably don’t have your finger on the latest patio trends, but materials go in and out of fashion just as they do everything else in property design. Whatever you use for your patio should suit the aesthetics of your home (usually: traditional for period properties and more contemporary for modern houses), but also needs to fit your budget.
Porcelain is currently very ‘in vogue’ with new-build patios as it is very low maintenance and comes in a wide variety of colours and finishes. For decked patios, hardwood is worth the extra investment compared to other wooden materials – as it’s more sustainable, lasts a very long time and looks great. Concealed milled joints can be included with hardwood to slot together side-by-side and avoid the need for any surface-mounted screws.
Brick is often forgotten as a patio material but can look hugely effective and is versatile to a range of different patterns and designs. 
A selection of sweet smelling plants next to outdoor seating

Incorporate planting into patio design

Plants around the edges of patios are fairly common but you can also fit in potted plants or use enclosed plant beds to divide different zones on the patio itself. A planting scheme should reflect the plants already in your garden but patio planting can include some stand-out features such as specimen trees as highlights.
Consider planting for scent and for privacy along a patio too; if your neighbours are likely to be able to see right on to your patio and you want to use it for sleeping or sunbathing, a few strategically placed bushes may help conceal your modesty, and planting sweet smelling flowers can help enhance your outdoors experience. 
A man fitting a hard stone wall in a garden

Include hard landscaping

‘Hard landscaping’, that is, the elements of solid patio materials, don’t just include the paving itself but also rails, fences and walls. If you intend to build any of these alongside your patio, ensure they look complementary and that they’re built for longevity in a suitable material.
Hard landscaping is usually the costliest element of a patio design and build project and so exactly how this is managed may rely on your budget. Labour costs (if hiring a professional to do the job for you) will usually be fixed, but there can be variation in other costs with different materials and design elements.

Think water features

Water features are popular patio elements that aren’t often featured elsewhere in a garden. They’re in high demand as a focal point and can create a tranquil feel for those enjoying the outdoor space. The sound of a water feature can relax those but may also make some people feel they need a wee – so park it somewhere appropriate if you know you’re likely to be annoyed by it! Keep water features away from children’s play areas and ensure they’re safely covered.
Water features can be functional as much as they can just for form, so if you’re a wildlife fan, get creative and make a small nature haven.
Embrace and enjoy your outdoor space with the perfect patio – you deserve it!

Get in touch!

If you are thinking about completely overhauling your garden area – the team at Refresh Renovations can help you turn over a stunning new leaf! We have house and landscape designers who can discuss all the options with you so get in touch today.

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