- Design a low-maintenance living space to get the most enjoyable patio that's easy to furnish for seasons of outdoor living and easy to clean when not in use.
- Make the design attractive: It should complement the house and landscape, as well as provide a comfortable living space.
- Build a patio (most are relatively easy) within a few weekends if you're fairly handy. If you're going to do the work, check out a construction manual at the library for how-to information.
- Don't be square. Add slabs at the corners of a concrete paver patio, for instance, to make a unique geometric form. Curves often make the best use of space.
- Make the grade level and stable enough to support tables, chairs, and foot traffic. Ensure smooth, safe transition areas, especially along edges and in corners. Significant changes in grade call for terracing or steps.
- Create a hidden or enclosed patio away from the house. It is one of the simplest outdoor rooms you can make. All you need is level ground, comfortable seating, and the shelter of trees and shrubs.
- Extend a patio's usefulness with a roof or partial cover. Position the patio to be warmed (but not baked) by the sun; a southeast or southwest location is ideal.
- Keep in mind the costs of maintenance over the anticipated lifetime of the paving material, when figuring the patio's cost initially.
- Choose a style that marries the house and garden. Follow themes begun with existing building materials; build a brick-and-stone patio for a brick Cape Cod, for instance.
- Set the tone for your landscape with hard surfaces, and soften pavers with plants. Build on this relationship. Low-growing conifers paired with sleek concrete and a simple, Asian stone fountain create an instant Zen effect.
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