Garden patio ideas – for a welcoming outdoor living space

Who says a small urban garden can’t be a modern sanctuary with plenty of room for relaxing and little need for maintenance.

Looking for garden patio ideas? If your garden is short on square footage, a planted terrace or garden patio can be a good solution, combining elegance with low maintenance. Simple paving such as travertine or traditional stone creates a sleek or rustic look, while clever planting will soften and provide privacy. Just add comfortable seating to create an ideal outside room.

How do I decorate a small outdoor patio?

The key to creating a successful garden of this type 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 terrace. 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.

Colour is important too. 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. Don’t forget the look and feel of the space by night too. Incorporate different types of mood lighting – even the use of hurricane lanterns can create a simple, romantic terrace full of warmth in the evening.

See our Small garden ideas – maximise a compact gardening space

1. AN EXTENSION OF YOUR INDOOR 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. Joining the two areas with folding or sliding doors is a popular solution, but asthetically the choice of flooring can 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 floorcoverings, such as sisal, coir or jute, as these offer an element of comfort but also will accommodate a certain amount of traffic too. Matched with a wooden decking, painted in a strong shade, it offers an interesting balance between the indoor and out.

Garden patios

Image credit: Emme Lee

2. LIVING WALL

Design a small garden or the patio area immediately next to the kitchen as a backdrop for your kitchen scheme. Think about how materials and planting will work all year round, adding colour, texture and interest into the hardscaping, and using pots and planters to bring plants in bloom to the fore.

Garden patio ideas

Image credit: James Merrell

3. MAKE AN ENTRANCE

Patios don’t have to be a one-level, just-outside-the-door affair; this carefully designed tiered space is a prime example of a patio that has stepped up to the next level in garden design.

Garden patio ideas

Image credit: Mark Bolton

4. FLOWER POWER

‘Try using white flowering plants in small spaces as they can help create light. White flowers are also the last colour that you see at night, so when planted in the right place they add depth. 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 to all garden themes,’ says Sean Butler, Cube 1994 Ltd.

Garden terrace ideas

Image credit: Alicia Taylor

See our The top 10 garden trends for 2020, according to the Society of Garden Designers

5. TAKE IT OUTSIDE

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 colour and variations of texture in throws and cushions.

Terrace garden

Image credit: Emma Lee

See our Garden lighting ideas – to illuminate your outdoor space

6. STEP UP

When it comes to exterior flooring, using a small unit size such as pebble mosaic or richly textured herringbone or basket weave brickwork can make the space feel larger. Similarly, a smooth terrazzo can create a clean, spacious feel. Natural sawn stone is an attractive solution, as it’s often rich in tone, smooth underfoot and can look very warm.

Balcony garden

Image credit: Emma Lewis

7. ON DECK

Although decking has been a staple of the boat building business for centuries, this design approach didn’t enter the interiors world until the Sixties. The Yanks hankered after an indoor-outdoor style extension to their home on which to host their BBQs, so built elevated patios directly off their living spaces out of decking – chosen because it’s lightweight and easy on the eye. Over the years, decking’s usage has expanded, and it has become the go-to material for a contemporary patio or roof terrace. Materials have also come on a pace. While early decks 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. We are also experimenting with stains and widths to give the timber a very contemporary feel.

This American-style porch is the ideal spot for a spot of morning breakfast. The structural roof and ceiling fans will be sure to keep you cool no matter the weather.

Garden porch

Image credit: Mark Luscombe Whyte

8. COLOUR THEORY

Turn your garden into a riot of colour. Be inspired by the colour of your favourite flower and bring your tired patio, patch of lawn or deck to life this summer. From Delphinium Blue to Sunflower Yellow, there’s plenty of colour about to burst into life in flower beds and borders, so why not take inspiration and use these shades of summer to style your outdoor area too?

Patio gardens

Image credit: Adrian Briscoe

9. LIVING CANOPY

A cooling spot for relaxing, entertaining or designed purely as a retreat, will make your garden a joy to use all day long. A simple living canopy creates shade wherever and whenever it is needed. The lush foliage has been trained over a horizontal frame for extra support as needed, providing shelter from the elements below.

Garden patio idea

Image credit: David Cleveland

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