When most people think of a patio they think of a simple paved area in their garden where they can sit outside and enjoy the sun. At its simplest, that’s exactly what a patio is, but in truth there is far more to designing a good patio. Here are some simple tips that will help you to create the perfect patio – a “destination” that you retreat to when you want to relax and unwind in the summer.
1. Pick the Perfect Location
Most people have a small patio that adjoins the house directly, but this does not have to be the case. You could run a path from your door to a patio deeper in the garden; this will allow you to pick an area that gets the right amount of sun, and that is secluded enough to offer optimal privacy. If you are building a new patio, be flexible about where you place it.
2. Using a Pergola
A pergloa is a small garden feature that forms a shaded area – usually a passageway or a sitting area – on your patio. If you have a fairly large patio and want to use it for al-fresco dining then installing a pergola is a good option because it gives you an unobtrusive way of installing downlighting in your patio. However, it is important to remember that a large pergola may require planning permission. Confirm this before you start building work.
Depending on the location of your patio and the purpose for which you intend to use it, you may want to install lighting. If you have had a pergola build, then you may already have some downlighting in that area of the patio. If the patio is attached to your house, you can attach lighting to the walls. Another option is to install recessed lighting around the edges of the patio. Err on the side of more lighting than is necessary, and remember that you don’t always have to use every light.
4. Shelter and Shade
Depending on the area you live, you may want to consider shelter from prevailing winds when you have your patio built. You should also consider the position of the patio in relation to the sun, so that you get enough sunlight during the times that the patio will be used. You can always use patio furniture to provide shade from the sun, but it is much less practical to remove an entire wall to let sunlight in if the patio is in a shady spot to begin with!
5. Choosing Patio Furniture
The type of patio furniture that you choose can make a big difference to the mood and atmosphere. A small slate patio with rustic wooden furniture makes a great sitting out area for a couple that enjoys spending their evenings watching the sun set with a cool drink. A bigger patio with brightly coloured furniture, a large table and a sun-shade is ideal for people who like to party, and a cozy patio with a small outdoor oven is a good choice for a family that likes to entertain.
6. Plants and Water Features
Plants and water features aren’t just for gardens. A few potted plants dotted around the patio with keep the outdoor feel going strong, and a water feature will have a cooling and soothing effect. Run vines up the wall, and choose low maintenance plants such as leaf ash, autumn sage or golden columbine that adapt well to changing light conditions so that you have an attractive focal point for your patio.