Step 1. Determine your needs. Make a list of all the ways you want to use the patio. This list might include an area for reading and relaxing, for an intimate dinner for four, or for a casual gathering of 20 friends. It may be all of the above and more.
As you enumerate the various uses for the patio, indicate which of them are most important to you. Many homeowners have an occasional need for the patio to accommodate large groups, but the vast majority of the time need to have enough room for only up to four people. One way to have a larger patio that still feels intimate is to use potted plants to frame part of the space. They can be moved when you need the extra room.
Step 2. Determine the type and amount of furniture required. Once you know how many people you need to accommodate, you can select the furniture. Typically this includes tables, chairs, and benches. Note anything else you want in the space, such as a grill or a drink cart.
If you already have or know the type of furniture you will use, measure all the pieces so you can plan the patio exactly. If you don't know what furniture you will have, you can use the general guidelines offered below.