Planning the Perfect Patio

The keys to a successful patio are simple: the right place and the right style. Here's how to plan for both.
Siting a Patio
Patio adjacent to adobe house Outdoor dining areas are more
likely to be used if they're
near the house and sheltered
from harsh winds and hot sun.

Patios, along with decks, are the workhorses of outdoor entertaining. Although many factors affect the success of a patio, the most important consideration is its location. A patio's site affects how much it is used and influences how well it serves the intended purpose.

If the patio is for outdoor dining, having it close to the house -- and kitchen -- increases the likelihood of its being used. A remotely located patio makes a great area for outdoor dining, but be realistic about how you respond to "out of sight, out of mind" situations. You may end up not using a remote patio as often as you had planned.

Open arbor shades a patio Trees provide welcome shade for
a patio; arbors are a way to add
shade instantly.

Another factor to consider when siting the patio is microclimate. A spot that is convenient to the kitchen may have too much or too little sun or an unpleasant view. Wind, sound, and privacy should also be considered. You may be able to screen the unattractive views, add shade, or remove limbs to bring sunlight into the area. Or you may need to find another location for the patio. A master plan will help in dealing with these situations.

An arbor shades a wooden deck and  its benches. A trellis or fence can control an
unattractive view.

Consider the view from where you will be sitting. If the view is a problem, an attractive fence or trellis can be a quick solution. If a portion of the view is attractive, you can frame it with carefully positioned gaps in the screen.

When building the patio, consider the proximity of large trees that may suffer root damage or damage the patios themselves. Even shallow roots can damage a patio in time. Also consider accessibility to utilities such as electricity for lighting or water for a fountain.

Continued on page 2:  Patio Styles