Step-by-Step Patio Design Plans for an Outdoor Space You'll Love

outdoor living space
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Getting Started


Thanks to their long-term value and a trend toward outdoor living, patios are popular among homeowners. Here, we show patio design plans that are both beautiful and practical. You may want to check out links included for additional information before you start planning your dream patio.

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Step 1: Pick Your Place

outdoor living space

Most patios are adjacent to the house, but they need not be. A patio placed well away from the house can provide dry footing for a private retreat. On the other hand, if you plan to use your patio for dining, keep it as close to the kitchen as possible.

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Step 2: Size It Right


A patio meant for the family can be small and intimate. But if large gatherings are in your future, you'll want to make sure your patio can handle a crowd. One way to figure the size is to set up tables and chairs on your lawn and see how much room you might need.

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Step 3: Choose Your Materials


Brick, concrete, slate, and flagstone are among the most popular patio surfaces, alone or in combination. When selecting patio design plans for your surface, consider factors beyond just cost. It's always a good idea to match the style of your home, if possible. And if you'll be dining regularly, select a smooth surface to keep tables and chairs from wobbling.

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Step 4: Select Your Details


A patio can be a simple slab of concrete or slate. But to make the most of your outdoor living space, you'll want to add amenities to your patio design plans like low-voltage lighting, planters, fountains, or fireplaces. Let your lifestyle and needs dictate the details you choose to add.

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Step 5: Select a Builder


The weight and hardness of patio materials can make building one a challenge for the novice. Still, if you want to try a small, forgiving project, consider building a sand-based patio yourself. More complex projects, especially those involving large concrete pours, should involve at least some experienced help.

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Step 6: Plan Your Plantings

patio design

Trees, flowers, and shrubs help a patio blend into the rest of the garden, and should not be an afterthought. Whether complex or simple, patio plantings enhance your enjoyment the outdoors.

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Bonus Tip: Make Room for Plants


Give your patio a unique dimension by incorporating pockets of colorful, easy-care plants such as succulents and groundcovers that can handle heavy traffic while maintaining their structure. Creeping thyme, in particular, is a great choice for sunny patios because it releases its lovely fragrance when stepped on.

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Bonus Tip: Add Drama with Turf


Get creative with an outdoor space by finding ways to make your lawn part of the design. Here, the circular patch of grass adds to the flow of the landscape and softens the transition between hardscapes. It also acts as a design element, playing off the round heads of flowering hydrangeas, circular container gardens, and stepping-stones off the back door.

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Bonus Tip: Create Separate Seating Areas

patio courtyard

Make your patio as versatile as possible by offering different seating areas. Casual gatherings (or personal away-time!) call for relaxing in Adirondack chairs; more formal get-togethers are better suited with traditional lawn furniture or benches. Create separate seating areas to accommodate any situation if you have the space.

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Bonus Tip: Don't Forget the Shade


You won't spend much time on your patio if it's not enjoyable, so offer a shield from hot summer sun with a pergola, a trellis, or shade trees. With careful patio design plans, you can create shade while putting on a show with a stunning pergola or bold, beautiful specimen trees.

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Bonus Tip: Keep the Grill Close

outdoor living space

Again, you'll spend more time enjoying your space if it's comfortable and handy. Keep seating areas near the grill or outdoor kitchen so you don't have to trek across the yard with platters of food. Plus, you can let elements of an outdoor kitchen do double duty -- the screen shown here also helps block late afternoon sun.

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