15 Best patio ideas for 2021 – stylish backyard patio designs

Use these gorgeous patio ideas to help design your dream patio garden, whether it's a sociable dining space or a backyard patio designed for relaxing

An example of patio ideas and designs showing wicker furniture, potted plants and an outdoor rug
(Image credit: Little Greene)

These garden patio ideas are aimed at anyone who wants to create the perfect living or dining space outdoors. 

Whether your garden is short on square footage, is a planted terrace, a courtyard garden or a larger, more expansive space, a patio can be a good solution, combining elegance with low maintenance. 

When it comes to backyard patio ideas and designs, 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 that will look right at home no matter what your other backyard ideas are.

Best patio ideas for 2021

Below, we showcase inspiring patio ideas to help you kickstart your design and inspire new garden ideas for your outdoor retreat.

1. Make your patio ideas an extension of your indoor living space

A large house with a blue outdoor wall and bright green steps leading down to a grassy garden

(Image credit: Little Greene)

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 door ideas to join the two areas. Folding or sliding doors are a popular solution, but aesthetically your patio furniture ideas and the choice of decor 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 floor-coverings, 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.

2. Create a living wall to border a patio

An example of patio ideas with a living wall and wicker furniture

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Patio planting ideas are important to research at the same time as you consider patio design and materials because they soften what can often be a hard-edged space. 

For anyone considering small garden ideas, a vertical wall is a fantastic option – it takes up little to no patio space but provides a wonderful, verdant backdrop.

3. Create a patio that connects to your kitchen

A wooden table with bistro chairs on a brick floor

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Designing a patio area immediately next to the kitchen can provide a backdrop for your kitchen scheme. 

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, pots and planters to bring plants in bloom to the fore.

4. Create a terraced patio for interest

Staggered planting is used to break up the hard landscaping of a tiered terrace

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

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. 

Each terrace is given a different 'zoned' purpose and the staggered planting is used cleverly to break up the hard landscaping and to create privacy.

5. Pick plants that enhance space

An example of patio ideas in the summer showing a fire pit on a terrace surrounded by evergreen hedges

(Image credit: Alicia Taylor)

'Try using white flowering plants in small spaces like patios as they can help create light. White flowers 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

'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.'

6. Furnish your patio like a living space

Wicker furniture on a wooden deck covered in a blue and white patterned rug

(Image credit: Little Greene)

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.

7. Choose characterful patio flooring

An example of patio ideas infront of a mint green wooden clad house

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

When it comes to patio 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. Before making a final decision on your flooring and patio ideas, keep in mind your budget and overall patio cost. Some natural stone slabs will cost significantly more than others. 

8. Consider decking materials for raised patios

A wooden front porch with smart white and wicker furniture

(Image credit: Mark Luscombe Whyte)

Elevated patios are best made from decking – chosen because it's lightweight and easy on the eye. 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 front porch idea is the ideal spot for a spot of morning breakfast. The structural roof and ceiling fans will be sure to keep you sheltered and cool no matter the weather.

9. Use a patio to introduce color

Wicker outdoor furniture in-front of a mustard yellow wall

(Image credit: Little Greene)

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 outdoor area too?

10. Create a living canopy for your patio

An example of garden patio ideas showing wicker furniture under lush foliage trained over a horizontal frame

(Image credit: David Cleveland)

A cooling spot for relaxing, entertaining or designed purely as a retreat, a patio with shade will make your garden a joy to use all day long. 

Covered patio ideas such as a simple living canopy can create shade and privacy wherever and whenever it is needed. 

In the example above, the lush foliage has been trained over a horizontal frame for extra support as needed, providing shelter from the elements below.

11. Include an outdoor patio cook space

An outdoor kitchen with a brick pizza oven, sink and wooden table and bench

(Image credit: Little Greene)

There are a wealth of different outdoor kitchen ideas these days and an outside cooking space can extend your patio's use, making it a space not just for dining and lounging but for living in warmer months. 

Design yours just as you would a kitchen indoors, creating a dedicated cook zone connected closely to a dining area. 

12. Surround a patio with cottage planting

An example of patio ideas showing an iron table and chairs surrounded by plants in full bloom

(Image credit: Future/Clive Nichols)

A patio is the perfect opportunity to create a focal point for a cottage garden – planting borders that surround two or three sides of your patio with cottage garden blooms, fruit and veg will create a welcoming space that's pretty, too. Planting scented blooms will enhance your enjoyment further.

For inspiration for cottage patio ideas, see our dedicated picture gallery.

13. Work patio lighting into your design scheme

A terrace at night with an outdoor sofa and string lights

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

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.

As with any garden lighting ideas, you can also try spotlighting plants or containers that edge the patio.

14. Include a water feature to create a peaceful patio

An example of patio ideas with a water feature surrounded by leafy plants

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Adding a water feature to your patio ideas wish list is a wise move – it makes for a wonderful design element, creates opportunity for a wider variety of planting, and is an integral part of a wildlife garden. 

Plus, if your backyard suffers from noise – perhaps from traffic or neighbors – a moving water feature can be an opportunity to minimize them. 

15. Create a patio focal point with a faux fireplace

A white sofa on a wooden deck with a dark green wall behind

(Image credit: Little Greene)

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 – whether a fireplace, as shown here, or a brightly painted wall. 

If you do choose from an array of outdoor fireplace ideas, furnish the rest of the patio with plants and candles to create a truly characterful space.

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. 

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.