See how to turn your patio into a comfortable, secluded outdoor living room.
A poolside patio becomes a secluded outdoor room when you enclose a portion of it with lattice walls. Inspired by 18th-century English architecture, this grand garden folly features columns supporting a keystone arch and front half-walls with Chinese Chippendale trim. Lattice panels screen the sides and back and let breezes flow through. Hedges and surrounding trees extend the outdoor walls, ensuring that the patio and pavilion enjoy a feeling of privacy.
A privacy fence is the easiest way to ensure seclusion for a patio. When the fence reflects the architecture of the house, the outdoor space becomes a literal extension of the indoors. This Craftsman-style fence screens a small backyard patio from its neighbors and creates a warm backdrop for outdoor living. A shallow post-and-beam pergola raised on massive river-rock bases defines the outdoor living room, while the dining area occupies the area to the left. Large olive jars also help divide this patio into separate zones.
Attached to a 5-foot-tall stone wall, this tall wood pergola screens the narrow, stone-paved patio from unsightly neighboring buildings. The structure's design provides privacy but avoids a closed-in look or feel.
The patio doesn't need walls as tall as the house to feel private and enclosed. A wall that extends about 5 feet high shields the dining area from the neighbors' view when the family and guests are seated at the table. Together with a wood fence of closely set boards and a cedar pergola, the wall provides privacy for the flagstone-veneer patio while preserving a feeling of openness. Mature trees along the fence line also provide privacy and create a feeling of shady enclosure.
The old-growth Western red cedar deck and gray sandstone patio off the back of this house enjoy a sense of privacy because of mature evergreens that block views of the neighboring house. Additional plantings of deciduous trees add shade and color through the growing season. The large-grid trellis defines the boundary of the outdoor rooms and allows breezes and light into the spaces. For more privacy and shade than this trellis provides, choose a trellis with a smaller grid.
Tucked into the corner between the back entrance and the back wall of the house, this small patio offers a feeling of protected privacy. Ivy-covered walls enhance the sense of snug enclosure, and a decorative wrought-iron fence separates the patio from the yard to further define the outdoor living space.
Set apart from the house, a getaway patio offers peace and tranquility in a lush corner of the garden. A privacy fence screens the views of passersby without blocking air flow. This type of patio is usually small and intimate, with its area defined by the flooring (here it's brick), which is installed directly on grade.
Walls that divide properties in older suburbs or on narrow city lots also can serve as walls for outdoor rooms, turning a patio into an enclosed courtyard. Here a tile fountain set into the back wall provides a focal point. In the left wall, rows of terra-cotta roof tiles fill in between masonry posts to screen the view while allowing air to circulate.
Embraced in the U shape formed by three sides of a 1918 cottage, this moss-covered patio functions like an outdoor dining room with the sky for a ceiling. Lush plantings on the fourth side guarantee complete privacy. Tucking a patio into a space defined by the house practically guarantees privacy, but to make the outdoor room truly comfortable, soften the walls with vines and plants. To protect the exterior walls, ivy grows on trellises set about a foot from the foundation.
A patio with columns supporting an open roof made of wooden lattice is called a loggia. Draperies of sturdy outdoor fabric hang from rods mounted between the stucco columns to protect the patio from the elements. In many climates, installing an overhead heater like those used at restaurants ensures the loggia can be used for year-round living and entertaining.
Patios don't have to be attached to the house. Trees and shrubs surround this small, private patio set away from the main house and accessible by a flagstone path. A lattice privacy fence screens views of nearby neighbors.
A wisteria-draped pergola shades the patio sitting area outside this summerhouse, but most of the brick-paved surface basks in the sun. Providing for both shade and sun extends the patio's usefulness. On chilly early spring or fall days, the brick absorbs heat and allows you to enjoy the space in spite of brisk temperatures. On hot summer days, the shady vine-covered pergola offers welcome relief. A lattice privacy screen behind the sitting area connects to the summerhouse via columns and creates a roomlike feeling of enclosure.
An arbor draped with trumpet vine serves as the doorway to this tiny, hidden patio, tucked into a chartreuse paradise. Both plants and furnishings carry this vibrant hue, adding intense energy to the diminutive space. A patio like this can be worked into almost any garden corner because the key to privacy is the plantings palette.