June 29, 2022

5 tips to designing a patio area

A patio can be the heart and soul of your garden. The place to relax after a stressful day, entertain your friends and spend time with family outdoors. And so, when you’re planning to install or redo a patio, it’s important to plot out your design first to ensure it meets your needs and achieves its full potential.

But what should a design include and what details are there to consider? To help guide you through this process, here’s five essential tips:

tips to designing a patio area in your garden

1. Choose the right location

Your first instinct may be to build a patio in the spot right outside your back door. But that isn’t always the best location, especially if the sun never shines on it. Not only could it make your patio colder and darker but damp spots that never see the sunlight are prone to algae.

If the sunlight, outlook or ground conditions are better in other areas of your garden, then they’re worth considering instead. Tucked to the side of your house, it could create a sanctuary from the hubbub of daily life inside the home. And placed at the end of the garden, it may feel more of a wildlife haven or a secret space just for you.

Of course, you need to consider the proximity to neighbors and other elements in your garden too. Do you need privacy from prying eyes? And do you really want to be close to the garage or shed? Have you got other more attractive features such as a pond, lawn or tree that you’d like to spend time sitting next to?

2. Get the size and shape right

Don’t limit yourself to a small square patio. Although it will be neat and symmetrical, it may not give you the most attractive or practical space. So, don’t think about what a patio normally looks like but think about what it could look like given the chance.

Sweeping designs add a sense of drama, while larger rectangles make great family dining spaces. Curved edges often work well when blending hard and soft surfaces such as lawns and borders. And can look less intrusive in small gardens.

You may also want to integrate your patio with pathways and steps, creating a connection to other parts of your garden. Alternatively, you may wish to create two patio areas to fulfill different functions, such as dining and entertaining. These could be kept entirely separate, mirror one another or join together via a path. So, ditch convention and sketch out your dream space.

3. Include ground preparation in your plans

A well-designed patio area is nothing without a good base. It should be solid and level. This will prevent sinking pavers, pooling water and wonky or broken slabs. So, while you’re plotting out your design, check the ground conditions in your proposed location. Work out carefully what preparation is needed to make it suitable for laying a patio. A lot of digging, levelling or removal of materials could add to your patio installation cost, so it’s an important element not to overlook.

Equally, you may need to build the ground up to meet the level of your patio doors, making the journey from indoors to outside a seamless one. And do you need a slight slope or a drainage channel to carry water away from your house? This may be needed if you’re using non-porous materials for your patio.

4. Use the right materials

When you’re putting your plan together, think about the materials carefully. Porous or permeable materials such as stone will allow rainwater to drain away naturally, but some tiles and pavers do not. That doesn’t make them unusable but does create extra challenges that you need to be ready for.

It’s not simply the drainage aspect to consider. Certain materials may have higher costs and may take specialist skills to lay them. And different materials can affect the level of maintenance and durability your patio has. Materials such as stone cut with a decorative pattern and colorful sandstone pavers won’t look nearly as good if they’re left to gather dirt and moss. And rigorous cleaning could damage their surface.

Equally, you’ll want to choose materials that create the right look for your patio. Think about how tiles or slabs fit together to form pattern and color. And how surface texture affects the feel and function of your patio. Are you looking for smooth and uniform tiles to create a contemporary feel? Or are you after a more natural effect with irregular patterning and paving shapes?

If you’re adding tables and seating, then completely flat surfaces can add stability. This may be a consideration for large family gatherings with young and old family members but may not matter if it’s just for you.

5. Add planting and furniture

The patio base material is only one part of your design. Your space isn’t complete without garden furniture and planting. To fit it out correctly, you’ll need to focus on what the primary function of your patio is and what overall look you wish to achieve. To keep your area looking clean, consider patio covers for those items you wish to keep from sun and rain damage.

It may be a green and leafy retreat or a smart, modern zone for al fresco dining. But it just won’t feel complete or cohesive without an all-encompassing design. To do this, create a mood board with the planting and furnishing style you desire. So, you have a visual representation of what you’re aiming for. This not only helps you focus on the end result, but it also makes it easier to share your vision with any trades that are helping you.

You may be surprised just how much plants change the look of a patio. Architectural plants and ornamental grasses create a contemporary air that works well with unfussy furnishings. Perennial flowers make a space feel cottagey whereas vines and climbers can add a Mediterranean ambience. Tie your planting in with your furniture style. Perhaps choose traditional wood or bistro furniture. Or take a look and hammock and hammock stands to add a bit of luxury beach vibes. Or make an impact with industrial-style metal or ultra-modern concrete seating and tables.

Thanks for reading xxx


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Hi and welcome to The Willow Tree. I’m Michelle, also known as Shel and I am a mama to three beautiful crazy kids – I have two handsome boys and a wild and wonderful girl.

I really wanted a concrete place to share my love for travel, in particular Disney and offer my readers a chance to gain some knowledge around what we love to do as a family of 5.

I share our family adventures which include days out, travel advice and tips, holiday reviews, restaurant visits and of course, our love for Disney, including Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World.

Life is about creating memories, and here we are sharing them with you




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