Dos and Don’ts of Patio Design

January is a great month to let your creative inspiration run riot and come up with a radical overhaul of the garden.  Here are the major considerations to tick off before you embark on the construction of a new patio.

  • You usually find the terrace right next to a property.  However, it is not always sensible to have it adjoining the home.  I have lived in houses where the outdoor dining area was adjacent to the west wall of the cottage on an exposed site.  This meant that there was no protection from the elements and we were not able to enjoy sitting outside on any day when there was a strong breeze.  In the height of summer, the lack of shelter turned the patio into an oven to be avoided on very hot days.   For most of us, locating the dining area somewhere sheltered could well be the most useful option, where you might enjoy some drinks with friends of an evening.


  • This leads me onto point to – if the perfect site is a trek away from the kitchen, there’s a good chance that you simply won’t go there as often as you might.  Consider the access – you are going to need to be able to reach it effortlessly with a tray of glasses or some coffee mugs.  If you are a super-entertainer, making it easy to reach from indoors will be paramount.  Unless you are in the realms of those who plan to invest in an outdoor kitchen – but that’s another league, and you’d be unlikely to be reading this blog…


  • Having earmarked a good position, the next thing on the list is the outline – what shape and size will it be?  Start with a list of what you are going to use it for, and what furniture will be on it, and then design around that.  Garden furniture websites usually have details of what dimensions suit a certain set.  As a rule, circular sets work well on square plots, oval and rectangular may be better on a longer thinner site, and trendy corner sets are designed for the obvious.   Will it be a mere table and chairs, or lounge set; will you need to incorporate a barbecue or some other gadget?


  • You also need to think about what materials you will use for this garden structure.  The sharp edges or corners of patio can be softened with low walls or curved stone paving, or clever planting.  The trick here is to reference the style of the overall garden if you want a harmonious result.   A few planters will help marry this formal area into the larger landscape.  This is the time to consider how the patio will be lit.  The options for outdoor lighting are endless but ignore this vital element at your peril.


  • And the boring bit.  Whenever you considering hard standing – whatever material you use, you must consider how the surface will drain.  An effective drainage system will prevent build-up of algae. If you need plumbing advice for outdoor taps etc please try our plumbing category.


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