Patio Design Based On Your Purposes
Patios can be uses in many different ways, so before going out and shopping for your patio furniture, start by defining your goal. Sometimes patios are created as a place to immerse yourself in a great garden, other patios are used to host large parties. Ask yourself what you want from your patio. Will it be for large gatherings or just for you and your family? Should it be intimate and private or open and social? Will you use it in the daytime or in the evening? Will you be dining on your patio? Will you be entertaining children, families or all adults?
Design your patio according to your life style
Once you’ve given these questions some thought, you should define your goal and even write it down. Then you can refer to it anytime during your process to make sure your choices are made in the best interest of completing your goal. The mood you create is very important. Think about how you want your patio to feel. Your design will look very different depending on the mood you want to create. Here are some tips to create the mood you want for different types of gatherings.
An intimate patio for a couple or small groups
If you’re looking to create an intimate spot in your yard, position your patio away from the house and keep it relatively small. Even if you’ll use your patio for a meal sometimes, don’t include cooking appliances in the same area. Make the cooking and dining two separate experiences. This will enhance the intimacy of the patio. Use generous landscape lighting and keep the lighting close to the ground. Avoid lighting that shines down on your patio from above. Another key to creating intimacy is to position your patio in a garden, surrounded by plantings or stone walls (or both!).
A garden always enhances an intimate spot. Use taller plants if you want to give the area a secluded feeling. Pergolas and outdoor fireplaces also add intimacy, but can get expensive. Don’t confuse fireplaces with fire pits. Fire pits tend to create more open and social moods where fireplaces add intimacy. For a surface, pea stone or natural stone are best, but stamped concrete or pavers can work if you stick to designs that look more like natural stone.
A family patio
If you just want a place for your family to gather, keep it simple. Size the patio to fit your family plus a few extra guests. Fire pits are great if you have kids or if you want to add some fun to the space. Be sure to put enough room around the fire pit for your family to sit all around it. Make room for a grill, so you can cook and eat on your patio, but don”t go overboard with the outdoor appliances if you’re just accommodating you and your family.
Use enough lighting to light up the area well. For a surface, we suggest pavers or stamped concrete for a durable and level patio.
A patio for relaxing or sunbathing
If you want a place to relax or soak up the sun, then an outdoor patio is the place to do it. Depending on your climate, you may want to maximize sun exposure or limit it. Either way, be sure you understand how the sun effects your spot before installing your patio. If you want to escape from the sun, then choose a shaded spot or, include a pergola as part of your design. If you want to take in the sun, then make sure you know what time of day you’re most likely to use it and position your patio so it gets sun at the proper time. If you’re sunbathing, you may want some privacy, so keep this in mind when choosing your spot. A privacy hedge may be necessary.
Make sure to include comfortable lounge furniture. If your goal is relaxation, then the furniture will become very important. Don’t skimp on the furniture! Also, have something nice to look at. This is one thing most homeowners forget when designing a patio for relaxing. Unlike a dining area where people’s attention is drawn inward, lounge chairs will focus attention outward. This means that you’ll be staring into the distance if you’re using your patio. This is a great opportunity to great a focal point like a water feature or a flower garden. When your patio is completed, your lounge chairs should be facing a pleasant view. Just about any surface will do for a relaxing area, but if bare feet are part of the picture, then we suggest pavers or stamped concrete.
A patio for large social gatherings
If you want your back yard to be party central, then be sure to create a large space that abuts lots of open lawn (or even better…a pool!). Patios usually work better than decks for creating fun social spaces. If you’re hosting large gatherings, then food will have to be part of the plan. Include lots of cooking appliances in your design. You want the cooking to take place in the same space as dining. If you can afford it, go with a complete outdoor kitchen with a bar. To create a social mood, you want to avoid going into the house as much as possible. The more you can do outside, the better.
If you don’t include an outdoor kitchen, include at least a dining area and position it as close as possible to the indoor kitchen to make delivering food easier. If you include plantings, stick with low, sturdy shrubs and avoid delicate perennials. Be sure to keep the space open. Don’t close it in with too many plants. Fire pits are also great for creating a social atmosphere. Make sure to leave plenty of room for seating around your fire pit. Use lots of light, flexible furniture. In large gatherings, your guests will move furniture around to suit their needs. There’s no need to get extravagant furniture if you’re going for a social mood. Use practical lighting that can really light up the space at night. Pavers or stamped concrete work well for patios designed for large gatherings.