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By Chris | December 4, 2007 - 6:20 pm - Posted in Plans

Patio Designs – Design Around HOW You Will Use It

The best patio designs are created around how the owner will use the patio. That is, the best patios are those that were designed carefully to cater exactly to the users natural interests and normal activities. For instance, I wanted my patio to be a place where I can “get away” but still very accessible so I built it far out in my yard with a wooden walkway extending to it. I like hanging in a hammock and reading (and writing) on rainy days and evenings so it is a covered patio with lights timed to turn on when it gets too dark to read outside. It is even large enough to hold about 10 people comfortably so I have gatherings there on a regular basis.

My patio is perfect for me and I use it almost daily. I might sell my house if I could take my patio with me. Your patio needs to be perfect for you, too.

Typical Patio Designs

“Patio” is a Spanish word for garden or backyard. Officially, the word “patio” refers to an area that is adjacent to (not necessarily joining) a residence and has a paved floor and an open roof. Patios are traditionally paved with concrete, stones, or bricks but some people prefer gravel or even sand or dirt, which tends to be cheaper (and more messy when wet).

Covered Patio Designs

The most common patio cover, if you want to call it that, is a good old fashioned umbrella. While patio umbrellas will no keep you dry if anything more than a light drizzle is falling they are life-savers in the summer sun. Patio umbrellas are also relatively cheap and install almost instantly – especially when they are built into your patio furniture.

Another way to cover a patio is to integrate a gazebo into the design. Gazebos offer nice cover from sun and rain and often look very nice as well. They can be pricey, though.

The best way, in my professional opinion, to cover a patio is to build a permanent structure over part or all of your patio that allows for your preferred amount of sunlight and wind. A well-built covered patio might offer built in seating, places to hang hammocks (my favorite), a table or bar, and will allow you to enjoy the outdoors rain or shine. Great covered patio designs are unbeatable as far as I am concerned – but that is just my preference.

Common Materials for Patio Designs

If you look closely at enough patio designs, you will find some made out of just about everything. Before choosing your materials, consider more than just aesthetics. Make sure the material you choose will allow you to use your patio the way you want. For instance, flagstone often create an uneven ground that makes it difficult to level a table and pea gravel gets in your toes but makes for a soft landing if you fall out of a hammock (not that it ever happens). Common materials used to build patios are:

  • Concrete
  • Flag Stone
  • Pea Gravel
  • Brick
  • Slate
  • Tile
  • Combinations of the Above

Get creative as these are not even close to being your only choices. Waterfalls make an interesting addition if you can deal with the extra maintenance. Consider leaving patches of grass or building part of your patio around an existing tree to incorporate more of the natural surroundings into your patio design.

Where to Find Ideas for Patio Designs

Concrete Network . com is a great source for concrete patio designs. HG TV has a nice how-to on building stone patio designs and the Deck & Patio Company in New York has a nice gallery of decks and patios. You might even consider searching Google images. Taunton’s Deck & Patio Idea Book is a fantastic book for patio designs.

Patio Designs by You

There are plenty of places online to find patio designs but, really, the best ones are going to come from your own head after staring at your backyard for a while. Have a friend over or sit with your spouse one evening, enjoy a glass of wine, and brainstorm patio designs on a pad of paper.

It took me months (actually, about 20 months) of sitting outside staring at my backyard to decide upon the exact patio design I wanted and it was worth every single second and every pad of paper I went through. I must have drawn 100 patio designs before finally arriving at the perfect design for me – covered, allows plenty of light, hold three hammocks securely and safely, away from the house, allows me to cook under it, is well lit at night, and the overall design blends well with my house and yard. My friends love it and I spend as much time there as possible. Many of my articles are written under my patio.

The Boring (but important) Part of Patio Designs

Whatever you want out of your patio, all patio designs must meet your local building codes and the standards set by your home owners’ association, if that applies to you. I know, I know. This is the boring part, but you will save yourself some time, money, and aggravation later if you check into this before building. Usually, the HOA process is as simple as submitting a basic plan to “the board.”

If you are using wood in your patio design, please use treated wood of a good quality or cedar, redwood, or another wood that is naturally resistant to damage from insects and decay. You might also consider using a composite lumber material.

If your patio design includes electrical outlets or sockets, carefully consider where existing lines are when digging and be careful with electricity in general. Consider hiring an electrician.

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