Patio ideas can revolutionize the way in which you use your backyard, transforming it from an unloved courtyard or uninspiring lawn into an idyllic sanctuary. There are patio ideas for every size and style of backyard, from bijou terraces and courtyard gardens through to larger, more expansive spaces.
When choosing your patio ideas, your first consideration needs to be for your existing backyard ideas. Let your design be guided by your existing space as your ideas will need to seamlessly blend into your existing planting and décor.
Below, we showcase our favorite patio ideas to inspire your scheme.
When it comes to designing a patio, start by working out how you plan to use your new addition. This will determine which patio ideas are best for your space. Ask yourself whether your patio is to be somewhere private to relax in the evening and enjoy breakfast on a sunny day, or, on the other hand, is it to be a space to entertain friends and family? Do you want to integrate outdoor kitchen ideas or perhaps channel garden party ideas? Your answers to these questions will define the direction of your design.
1. Incorporate a beautiful dining area into your patio ideas
When correctly designed, patio ideas can transform your garden into a room in its own right. ‘I always approach outdoor design the same way I approach indoor design, but of course with additional considerations,' says Georgia Zikas, founder at Georgia Zikas Designs. 'Ultimately, you want to create a space that feels like a natural extension of the home, and can function while looking great. This usually means some sort of seating area or outdoor dining table to enjoy summertime BBQs and parties. You'll want to choose furniture that looks great but can withstand the elements.’
Opt for characterful patio furniture ideas, like this classic wrought iron furniture which brings traditional elegance to the scene. Pair with a parasol over the table, which will not only protect you from sun but also add color and height to your vista. Of course, parasols are not the only patio cover ideas, you can also provide shade by planting trees, or adding a pergola or a colorful canopy.
2. Choose paving that complements your home
Your choice of paving will predominantly depend on the exterior of your home. ‘A traditional or country style property complements more rustic finishes, such as a tumbled limestone paver whereas a contemporary home will likely suit a straight cut porcelain paver with low tonal variation,’ says Isabel Fernandez, director at Quorn Stone.
Choosing flooring for your patio ideas is much the same as selecting bathroom floor ideas: it needs to be waterproof and have a low slip-level. Opt for patio flooring with at least an R11 rating, which offers increased friction and therefore slip resistance.
Once you've selected your tiles, gravel or paving, be sure to find out how to lay a patio as this will ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the process, even if you don't intend to lay the patio yourself.
3. Create a Mediterranean-inspired patio
Channel a Mediterranean-inspired paradise by opting for light colored stone flooring ideas which will create a bright basis for the design. Then decorate with patio planting ideas; here, terracotta pots filled with olive trees and rosemary help to tie the patio in with the planting elsewhere in the garden.
This patio goes a step further with its Mediterranean inspired design, creating a faux white washed wall – echoing that of a Mediterranean villa – provides an air of seclusion and privacy, with seating either side of an inbuilt fire pit. Complement your Mediterranean patio ideas by learning how to create a Mediterranean garden.
4. Add a canopy to create an indoor-outdoor living space
If you live in an area where the weather is consistently warm and sunny, your patio will be in near constant use. Therefore, you can afford to create a more permanent design rather than just sticking to temporary patio cover ideas such as parasols, canopies and sails.
One option for a permanent canopy is a pergola. Pergola ideas are one of the simplest ways to provide a more intimate space in your garden.
5. Let your patio ideas be inspired by resort living
You can't beat the serenity of relaxing by a pool, but for many ,this is a luxury that is reserved for the holiday resort. If you're considering pool patio ideas to incorporate into your patio ideas, then why not let your design be inspired by resort living?
‘If you're lucky enough to have a pool, I definitely recommend investing in some luxe loungers with great, outdoor-grade fabric cushions. This will make your backyard feel like a resort and you'll want to spend all your time out there when the weather is nice,’ says Georgia Zikas.
‘I love to mimic the natural colors found outdoors, so I always recommend some sort of wood furniture set, or even rattan, and then play up nature through blues and greens in your umbrellas, cushions and other furnishings.'
6. Use flooring to create the illusion of more space
Emphasizing the width and length of your space will help your patio ideas to feel more spacious, especially when viewed from inside the home. ‘Go with a large format paver. The larger the paver, the less grout and therefore it helps to create a seamless space that isn’t broken up by numerous grout lines. Also opt for a grout color that is a close color match to the paver itself to give the illusion of a larger area,’ says Isabel Fernandez. Picking a large format tile is a great option for making a small garden look bigger.
As well as considering the flooring, installing patio doors will also help to make both your patio and living space feel larger by joining the two areas together. Adding patio doors will also help to increase natural light in your home, letting you to continue enjoying your beautiful patio ideas even when inside.
7. Make your patio ideas an extension of your indoor living space
Any outdoor space we have can become a valuable addition to family life and increasingly we see it as an expansion of the home. Use stylish patio doors to join outside with in. Folding or sliding doors are a popular solution, but aesthetically your patio furniture and the choice of décor and flooring can also help tie these two spaces together.
Marking a defined threshold between the end of one room and the beginning of the other is a good place to start. The choice becomes more dependent on which room leads onto the outdoor space. A carpet tends to be the norm in a living room, but next to a garden can be more tricky, so check out more natural, hardwearing living room carpet ideas, such as sisal, coir or jute.
These offer an element of comfort but also will accommodate a certain amount of traffic too. Matched with wooden decking ideas, painted in a strong shade, it offers an interesting balance between the indoor and out.
8. Create a living wall to border your patio ideas
Patio planting ideas are important to research at the same time as you consider your wider patio ideas as they will work together to frame your patio and soften what can often be a hard-edged space.
For anyone considering small garden design, a vertical wall is a fantastic option – it takes up little to no patio space but provides a wonderful, verdant backdrop. As well as creating an aesthetic backdrop to your patio, incorporating living wall ideas and vertical garden ideas will also improve air quality, reduce noise and attract wildlife.
9. Create a patio that connects to your kitchen
A patio immediately next to the kitchen can provide a backdrop for your kitchen ideas.
Think about how materials, flooring, walls, furniture and planting will work with the space indoors and how they will look all year round, whether you are enjoying them in warmer weather outdoors or admiring them from inside in cooler months.
To bring your patio ideas together, think about how you can add color, texture and interest into the hardscaping by using paint and container gardening ideas to bring plants in bloom to the fore.
10. Embrace modern patio ideas with a terrace
Patios don’t have to be a one-level, just-outside-the-door affair. Instead, consider a multi-level terrace that can add height and interest to your backyard. Use the levels to create different zones and using planting to give the space a softer edge, but ensure you incorporate good patio lighting ideas to be able to navigate steps safely.
11. Pick plants that enhance space
There are plenty of different planting ideas that will really elevate your space, though planting that suits cottage patio ideas is the prettiest.
'Try using white flowering plants in small spaces like patios as they can help create light. They are also the last color that you see at night, so when planted in the right place they add depth,' says garden designer Sean Butler of Cube 1994 Ltd. 'While in shady areas, use Saracoccoa, commonly known as the Christmas Box, a very richly scented evergreen plant that flowers early. A good all-round plant which crosses all boundaries is Buxus (box). This can be used to create good structure.'
Don't just think about plants to surround your patio, bringing potted plants onto the tiles, deck or gravel will help to tie your patio into your large planting scheme. There are lots of different container garden ideas that work brilliantly as part of patio ideas.
If your patio connects to your kitchen, then herb planter ideas are a beautiful and useful addition to the space.
Make sure that you have plants on your patio all year-round as this will ensure that it's always bright and welcoming, even on colder days. From glossy evergreens to vibrant bulb flowers, adding some of the best winter plants for pots and borders to your patio will add a new dimension to your winter garden ideas.
12. Furnish your patio like a living space
Approach the furnishing of your outside space in a similar way to the treatment of the inside. Consider warmth under foot by using outdoor occasional rugs, introduce punctuations of color in paint and variations of texture in furniture, throws and cushions to create an outdoor living room space.
'It is important to understand if you want the patio to allow for both dining and socializing in soft seating, or to only do one independently. Understanding this goal, and how many individuals you want to support, mathematically drives the scale of the patio,' says Cathy Purple Cherry from Purple Cherry Architects.
13. Consider decking materials for raised patios
Elevated patios are best made from decking – chosen because it's lightweight and easy on the eye. While traditional deck ideas were made out of first-generation hardwoods, now it's hard-wearing composites and eco products made of recycled materials that are all the rage.
A softer alternative to paving, wooden decking harmonises with trees and planting to create the perfect space for alfresco dining or relaxing, and it can be raised for better views. Opting for unstained wood means it will age gracefully over time, blending into the garden aesthetic.
Alternatively, opt for a more modern look by painting your deck – there are plenty of different deck color ideas to choose from. Dark colors are a great choice as they will instantly draw the eye, work harmoniously with the garden and are highly durable so won't need repainting as regularly as lighter colors.
Consider finishing the look with deck railing ideas for a secluded finish to the space.
14. Create an inviting patio by introduce colors
Turn your garden into a riot of color. Be inspired by the color of your favourite flower and bring your tired patio to life this summer. From delphinium blue to sunflower yellow, there’s plenty of color about to burst into life in flower beds and borders, so why not take inspiration and use these shades of summer to style your patio ideas too?
When painting your patio are, it is important to be aware of the different paint finishes and the effect these have on your space. Firstly, it is important to select an exterior paint as this will ensure that it can cope with the a range of different environments and temperatures without cracking, peeling or running. Opt for a satin or eggshell finish as they offer low-levels of reflection, so help to disguise uneven surfaces and imperfections yet has a slight gloss, that means it can be wiped clean more easily.
15. Create a living canopy for your patio
Shade garden ideas come into their own when designing a patio. Not only will it create a cooling spot to relax on hot summer days but it will also make your garden a joy to use all day long.
There are lots of different covered patio ideas to choose from, but one of our favorites is a living canopy. This simple yet effective design sees a pergola draped with foliage and climbing plants to create a botanical haven, offering shade and privacy. When deciding to create a living canopy choosing the best flowering climbers is essential, as is selecting fast-growing flowering vines, combining these two types of plant will create a luscious space that will be full of color and perfume during summer.
16. Include an outdoor patio cook space
Adding an outdoor kitchen to your patio ideas can extend its use, creating a space not just for dining and lounging but for living in warmer months. When figuring out how to plan an outdoor kitchen, approach it just as you would indoors. Create a dedicated cooking zone, accompanied by preparation space, as well as a closely connected dining area. Quick access to running water is also a must so be sure to incorporate a tap and sink into your design.
17. Create a patio focal point with a faux fireplace
If yours is a sheltered or enclosed patio, you have the opportunity to treat the space as you would a room indoors. In this case, a focal point will be beneficial to your outdoor room. Here a characterful Victorian fireplace is a quirky addition to the space but one that instantly draws the eye.
While this faux fireplace simply serves as an aesthetic focus, you might also want to consider adding a firepit or other outdoor fireplace ideas as these will provide heat as well as visual interest. Furnish the rest of the patio with plants, candles and a cozy sofa to create an inviting space.
18. Surround a patio with cottage planting
A patio is a great addition to a cottage garden, but let your design be inspired by nature and opt for natural materials that will seamlessly integrate into your space. Select natural stone flooring – there are plenty of stone flooring types to choose from – as this will create a naturally inspired backdrop to complement cottage garden plants.
Creating an elegant focal point on your patio by adding wooden patio furniture ideas that will lend the space a soft, welcoming aesthetic, ideal for al fresco dining and relaxing with friends and family.
19. Include a water feature to create a peaceful patio
Incorporating water feature ideas into your patio ideas is a wise move. Not only does it make for a wonderful design element and creates opportunity for a wider variety of planting, but it is also an integral part of wildlife garden ideas.
If you are looking to fully capitalise on creating an eco-friendly garden, then maybe consider garden pond ideas instead. Regardless of its size, learning how to build a pond and adding one to your patio ideas will prove invaluable for wildlife.
Whether you opt for a water feature or a pond, adding garden fountain ideas is definitely worth considering, especially if your backyard suffers from noise pollution as the gentle, relaxing soundtrack of the moving water can help to minimize the sound of traffic or noisy neighbors.
20. Work patio lighting into your design scheme
Patios need to be well-lit to function properly at night – but unlike indoors where lighting needs to be occasionally bright, floodlighting a patio is impractical.
Instead, use attractive patio lighting ideas to create soft lighting zones around the patio – whether creating ambient lighting with pretty bulbs, like in the patio above, or creating a display of lights on a table. An outdoor lantern is also a stylish yet practical option for bringing light into this space.
How can I make my patio more inviting?
You can make your patio more inviting by adding furniture with cushions and throws and patio covers such as umbrellas, pergolas or sails. Think of designing your patio in the same way as you do your living room, factor in colors, textures and lighting to create an inviting and welcoming space.
Don’t forget the look and feel of the space by night too. Incorporate different patio lighting – even the use of hurricane lanterns can create a simple, romantic terrace full of warmth in the evening.
How can I make my patio look nice?
The key to making a patio look nice is to choose the two main elements – planting and paving – carefully. The type of planting you choose will help to soften the look and feel of the patio.
Consider feathery grasses or velvety ferns, and if your space is small, try to create a sense of lightness using plants with soft foliage and small, delicate leaves.
Color is important, too, when considering different patio ideas. Opting for light greens, silvers and greys will help create a sense of spaciousness, while highly reflective, shiny leaves can add light and shimmer providing a greater depth of field in the planting scheme.
In larger spaces, fragrance is a good way of zoning. A variety of fragrances in different areas of a terrace can suit different moods and help them come to life at different times of day.
Does a patio have to be connected to the house?
No, your patio does not have to be connected to the house. While positioned adjacent to the house is the most popular location for your patio, it is by no means the only location. Any paved area in the garden which serves a recreational purpose can be deemed a patio.
If your patio is designed with daytime relaxing in mind, it might be worth locating your patio in the space that receives the most sunlight throughout the day. Alternatively, if your patio is intended to be a space to enjoy an evening drink, you might want to consider where the last rays fall.
Walled gardens – or partially walled gardens – also offer another patio citing opportunity. With the walls Radiating the warmth that’s been throughout the day, a walled patio will create a warm and cosy nook that’s ideal for evening alfresco dining. Why not combine your patio with an outdoor kitchen island to create an external kitchen/dining space that works independently from your home.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
- Holly Reaney Content Editor and Sub-editor
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