Patio Design

Creating Your Own Patio

Thinking about an outdoor patio design can be both fun and confusing. You might be imagining entertaining your family and friends. Perhaps relaxing quietly enjoying the peace and quiet is a nice thought or even listening to some trickling water. Yet, how do you go about creating a patio design that you will really be happy with? Where do you start?

Patio Designing Factors to Consider

There are many design aspects to consider.

1. How large do you need your patio to be? Is it just a small sitting area for two, or do you need the space to entertain large groups of people? As a guide, a sixty inch round table and chairs would need about fifteen feet of space. This allows for chairs to be maneuvered and also allows for access around the furniture. A lounge needs approximately ten feet of space. A patio which is fifteen feet by twenty feet or about 300 square feet is decent size.

2. Work with a patio design that looks well with the architecture of your home. Sometimes the simplicity of interesting geometric shapes and paving patterns look elegant. In other situations, curvilinear designs look beautiful and might blend in well with natural surroundings.

3. What about paving materials? Are you looking for an inexpensive solution? Colored concrete works nicely. I suggested this for a client on a budget and they loved it. I designed the concrete so that it was patterned with large squares for interest. Do you have your heart set on natural stone? Travertine pavers are becoming popular. They are actual stone but are cut into regular shapes for an easy, dry laid installation. Bluestone is always beautiful whether it be laid in mortar or dry laid. You can choose from irregular or regular shapes.

4. How high above the ground is your door to the house? If there is a four inch to eight inch difference, you can plan on just stepping onto the patio. However, if your doorway is higher, some creative design work must be done. Many times I will create a nice sized landing to step onto. From this, a few steps are provided down to the patio. This provides a comfortable area to step onto, rather than just a narrow step. If your door is very high, you can also add some steps off the patio. The ideas is to create a gradual transition to ground level.

5. Seat walls are a nice addition to patios. They not only provide something attractive and vertical to look at, but also additional seating and a nice place for conversation. Seat walls should be eighteen to twenty four inches high and a minimum of one foot deep. The top of the wall should be flat. For example, if the seat wall is to be made of natural stone, a bluestone cap provides a comfortable seat and also a resting place for food or drinks.

6. Think about some nice features to add to your patio design. The sound of water from a natural or formal pond at the edge or nearby is both beautiful and peaceful. Perhaps a special sculpture works well in the design. If your patio is in a hot and sunny area, consider a pergola or trellis for shade.

You might even include a simple bird bath fountain.

Considering all of these patio design elements will lead to a project that is aesthetic, functional and enjoyable.

About The Author

Susan Schlenger is a Landscape Designer with a degree in Landscape Architecture. She has been providing design services for 10 years and has worked in various parts of the United States. Her company, Susan Schlenger Landscape Design, is located near Charlottesville, Virginia. To learn more about her landscape design ideas for patios and see some of her projects, visit


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