You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Create a patio that you love
AP

Create a patio that you love

  • Updated
Only $5 for 5 months
living-space-patio-20200707

Furniture, lighting and accents contribute to the overall look, usefulness and enjoyment of a patio.

A few small touches are all it takes to turn a patio from a bare spot in the yard to a comfortable, private retreat from reality. These ideas can help you maximize what you already have to create a patio that you love.

Find furniture you love

The most common and useful amenity for a patio is furniture. It provides a place to sit, dine or otherwise enjoy the space. When choosing patio furniture, consider the style and how it matches the surroundings, as well as how comfortable and durable it is. Outdoor furniture that has to be protected or that stains easily when exposed to the elements will probably prove to be more trouble than it is worth. Invest in furniture that will stand up over time without a lot of extra care.

Green up your patio with plants

The easiest and most versatile way to add plants to a patio is by using containers. Evergreen shrubs in containers can define areas of a patio, provide privacy and shade or serve as a windbreak. Smaller pots of perennials, annuals or bulbs can introduce seasonal color to a patio. One advantage to using containers is that they are portable, which means you can move the plants around to suit your mood and their needs. Just be sure that the containers match the style of the patio.

Another alternative is to have built-in planting areas on the patio. This is best done when you design and build the patio: leave open spaces to act as in-ground containers that you can plant directly into. This method creates more protection from freezing temperatures, and plants need less irrigation than if they are grown in containers. It also allows you to grow low ground covers that help soften large expanses of paving.

If you include a built-in in-ground planter, it is vital that the planting hole drain adequately and the soil does not become too alkaline as a result of adjoining mortar.

Here’s how to get the best results: Once the patio is built, including the planting holes, excavate a hole at least 3 feet deep and fill the hole with water at least 12 inches deep. If the water does not drain within four hours, you’ll need to improve drainage or use containers or raised beds. If the hole passes the drainage test, line it with heavy plastic, make several large slits in the bottom of the plastic so water can drain, then fill the hole with good soil.

In general, proper drainage is essential for your patio — particularly if you have a sunken patio, which can quickly turn into a pond. A patio flush with or above ground can be drained by building it with a slight pitch that drains water off the patio and away from the house.

Add light and shade to your patio

Appropriate lighting makes the patio useful even after the sun goes down. If the patio is attached to the house, you can mount floodlights on the eaves for full illumination. Consider putting the lights on a rheostat so you can control the brightness. If the patio is not adjacent to the house, consider mounting lights on tree limbs, an arbor, wood posts or decorative lampposts.

You’ll also want to consider a canopy over the patio to provide shade and visually contain the area. Options include extending a lath or other open structure from the house (if the patio is attached to the house), building a freestanding structure, such as a pergola, or relying on the limbs of an existing shade tree. It is not necessary to provide a rainproof covering; you simply want to filter the sun and create the illusion of a roof. You might also want to leave a portion of the patio open to allow sunshine to warm the space on a cooler day.

Water features add ambiance

Whether elaborate and built-in or simple and freestanding, water features are desirable amenities for a patio. Even a small pond can host a number of plants and/or fish. Or install a fountain to provide a bubbling soundtrack to your outdoor experiences and minimize sounds from neighbors or traffic.

Focal points can do double duty

In the same way you would decorate a room inside the house, use yard art to accent and otherwise decorate your patio. If the patio can be seen readily from inside the house, the use of ornaments such as wire spheres, metal obelisks or topiary frames with or without plants can help link the indoors with the outdoors. A focal point that also has a practical function serves double duty. A simple fire pit or an elaborate patio hearth can warm the body as well as please the eye.

(Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.)

Sprout new ideas

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

With proper care, granite countertops can last for decades making them well worth the investment. This durable and attractive surface can withstand most normal kitchen messes, but it is an absorbent material. A little TLC can protect your granite counters from scratches and stains.

  • Updated

Q: In a recent column, it was stated that “nearly 80% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic…” I want to know how you define living paycheck-to-paycheck, when that implies having no savings or residual discretionary cash to spend. Are you saying that necessary day-to-day living expenses consume each paycheck?

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics