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Every family has its own needs. The patios we're featuring here show different ways of creating privacy and comfort. Read on for tips that you can use to make your patio extraordinary.
Whether you're hosting a neighborhood potluck or enjoying some personal time with a good book, you probably don't want your neighbors watching every move. Plant vines, shrubs, or small trees in strategic places to block views. Just one or two can make a big difference.
Keep your outdoor living space close to where you'll use it most. For example, place a patio outside your bedroom if you envision it as a great spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or a little yoga. Or place it off the kitchen if you'll be eating there often.
Layers are always more interesting than a flat surface. So take advantage of tough-to-mow slopes by creating a multi-level patio. Here a planting area between the upper and lower levels adds extra interest.
Sometimes the most enjoyable, charming spots are little quiet corners. So look for nooks in your yard where you can put a bench and a small side table and make a mini patio to enjoy your landscape.
One of the easiest ways to add interest to your patio is with a container garden or two. Select plants and pots that fit the space and your personal tastes. This beautiful planting features stunning foliage (including miscanthus, elephant's ear, and coleus) that will stay looking good from spring to fall.
An established tree dominates this patio area. It could have been tricky to design around. But instead of being a problem, the tree plays a starring role in the space with a curved stairway on both sides.
Grow low groundcovers between flagstones to give your patio an old-world, established feeling. Or try the same with brick; just pop a few random bricks out of the ground and place low perennials (such as this golden creeping Jenny) in their place.
This big, bold hearth is an ideal focal point and gathering place. It plays another function, as well -- adding privacy. You don't need something this elaborate -- a small tree or large shrub, dramatic container, or even a piece of garden statuary can serve the same function.
Whether your patio is big or small, look for little ways to add impact. This stone ledge, for example, is a perfect place to set a votive candle to enhance a warm, cozy feel. It's contrasted here with a striking variegated fuchsia.
In an era of mass merchandising, it's easy to create a patio that looks like your friends' or neighbors'. Make yours stand out by finding ways to customize. This handrail is a great example -- but you can easily do the same thing with containers and other features.
Give your patio a sweet scent by choosing plants with fragrant flowers or foliage. This rose, for example, just begs you to stop and sniff.
It's fun to surround your patio with flowers -- but be sure to include some beauties, such as these amazing dahlias -- to include in bouquets on your tabletops. It's a great way to help transition your garden onto your patio.