If you enjoy spending time outdoors, whether it’s lounging, entertaining, cooking, dining, cuddling up around a fire pit, even reading or watching a movie, then there are a few elements you need if you want to create the best experience for you, your family or guests.
Great seating is one, whether it’s a long dining table with suitable benches or chairs, oversized comfy couches overflowing with soft pillows, a couple of Adirondack chairs, or a cozy swing.
A great view doesn’t hurt, either. What’s more pleasant than gazing out over a beautiful wildflower garden, watching colorful koi play in a pond, or simply taking in the sounds, colors and textures of the world around you?
But to really enjoy these things, there’s one key element that you need – the hub, so to speak, of your outdoor space. A place to gather, a place for that swing, a place to share a meal. And that’s your patio.
Patios usually don’t get the press they deserve. There’s so much to appreciate, from the colors of garden blooms to the frolicking of chipper birds, that the humble patio is too often overlooked. But where would you center your fire pit? Or gather for family movie night? Where would you host that dinner party or place the grill to prepare your culinary creations?
And patios can be just as beautiful as other, more appreciated elements. They can be especially lovely during colder months when blooms have faded and your landscape looks a bit more sparse. Choose a gorgeous natural stone, create patterns or include colors that stand out, and your patio can be a fantastic winter hardscape as well as a functional foundation.
Unfortunately, patios are too often an afterthought, or a mundane requirement. Yes, you need a patio for your grill and your lounger. Grab some pavers and voila, instant success… or is it?
If you want a patio that is both a functional and an aesthetically integrated part of your outdoor space, there are a few things you should be thinking about before you run out and start laying stones or pavers.
These are some the questions that you should ask yourself, and that you should expect to answer for your landscape designer, if you really want to enjoy all the beauty and benefits of a great patio.
What Is The Purpose Of Your Patio?
Perhaps the most important question that you can ask yourself no matter what you’re planning, is *why*?
Why do you want a patio in the first place? You might roll your eyes and say, “Because of course we need a place for the grill and dining table!”
But really think about this. Your use and enjoyment of the space count on it.
If you want to dine, what kind of dining? Will you be hosting large parties that require adequate seating space, or small family gatherings? Are your meals more formal or will you be lounging in arm chairs with hors d’oeuvres? Do you want or need an outdoor kitchen, whether it’s as simple as a grilling area or as elaborate as a refrigerator, running water and other appliances?
Think beyond just dining to other ways you may want to use your patio space. Do you want to include a fire pit? That can affect the size of the area, the type of stone you choose, even the patterns you might prefer.
How about container gardens? A water garden? A full-fledges fireplace? Will your patio – or part of it – be part of an outdoor room where you’ll place area rugs or other furniture?
Your patio should be designed to accommodate your lifestyle and how you plan to use the space. Conversely, it should *not* be designed around things you don’t want!
Do you really want to be able to dine outside? Or do you just think you’re “supposed to” because summer barbecues are all the rage? Don’t plan a space to eat or sunbathe if those aren’t things you enjoy doing, just because you’ve seen dining tables and loungers on patios everywhere.
These are just a few small examples of how your lifestyle and decisions can affect the type of patio you choose – from its size to its shape and location within your yard.
What Is The Style And Character Of Your Home?
When designing any part of your outdoor space, the goal should be to integrate it seamlessly with your home. If you have a stately Cape Cod, you probably don’t want a poured concrete patio. While that may look great in an urban or more modern setting, it will clash with your architecture.
Likewise, a rustic, naturalistic stone patio will look oddly out of place next to a modern home.
Sleeker, geometric paver designs will work better with modern or minimalistic homes, while brick will better suit a Colonial design.
Shape matters, too. A blocky, geometric patio will create a completely different feeling than one with soft, curving edges. Large blocks of stone with a bit of grass peeking between the cracks might be a great look for a Victorian home, but a tighter arrangement of cobblestones might better suit a Mediterranean style.
When choosing the style, colors and types of stone for your patio, it’s important to consider not only what is visually interesting, but what won’t clash with – or detract from – your home. Concrete pavers, for example, come in a lovely array of colors and textures. But they tend to absorb light, which can give your home an industrial look in a larger space.
While certain color choices can clash with your home, others will create balance and congruence. To help guide your choice, pull colors from siding, stone, trim or other features.
And if that wasn’t enough to think about, your patio should also flow with the interior design of your home. After all, your outdoor space isn’t separate from your home. It can – and should – be another room you can enjoy.
How Many Patios Do You Need? (Yes, Really!)
There’s no rule that says you can only have one patio! If you have a large space, it’s a good idea to break it up into multiple zones. That can include a dining area, a lounging area, a place to gather around the fire pit, or a spot to sit and watch your koi at the edge of a pond.
These patios can be separated by other features – like a pond, lawn or other use space – or they can be merely separated through your choice of stone and overall design.
For example, a split level patio is a great way to create multiple use spaces, while also making larger spaces feel cozier, and smaller spaces appear larger.
A terraced patio can make space far more usable in a very sloped yard. And if you really want to get creative, combine a deck and patio for a unique aesthetic that’s great for creating separation, defining zones, and adding to the overall visual appeal of your space throughout all four seasons.
What Will Surround Your Patio?
A patio should complement the exterior of your home, and it should blend seamlessly into the space around it. You’ve probably seen plenty of homes with a paver patio stuck to the back door, smack in the middle of a lawn without an iota of concern for the muddy edges or dead grass patches around it.
Your patio is part of the totality of your space and should work in harmony with the plantings, the water features, the pathways, and everything else surrounding it.
In fact, imagine more than just a patch of grass at the edge of the patio. How about bringing a pond right up to the edge, and building some stone bridges over it to the lawn beyond? How about placing your patio in the middle of a flower garden where you can appreciate the surrounding beauty as you dine or relax?
Consider complementary features as well, like a surrounding stone wall, or walkways to other parts of your yard.
And be honest about your tolerance for maintenance. If you aren’t going to keep up with that wildflower garden, then maybe a few container plants will serve your needs better.
In short, don’t treat your patio as an afterthought or as an appendage, but as a key – and beautiful – part of your landscaping.
When it comes to designing a patio and choosing the colors, shapes and style that will work for you and your home, there’s a lot to think about – even more than we’ve covered here! Everything from how you’ll manage drainage to where the sun and breeze are best will come into play.
The good news is that a professional landscape designer will be able to guide you through the choices and help you make decisions that will both suit your needs *and* work in harmony with your home.
If you’re ready for a patio that will serve as the perfect foundation of your outdoor lifestyle, contact us for a consultation. Our landscape designers are here to ask and answer all of the important questions, and build the outdoor space of your dreams.