Installing a new outdoor patio is one of the best investments you can make into both the financial state of your home and the satsifaction you can gain out of it. Obviously, a new patio is an important investment, one that cannot be overlooked. I want to help you avoid regret when you finally get that patio installed a realize that you don’t like what you got, whether that’s 10 minutes or 10 years down the line. Thus, here are eight outdoor patio ideas that will hopefully inspire you and educate you about what is truly possible when it comes to an outdoor patio. I cover nearly every facet of your choices, the patio’s design, installation, and extra features that can make your patio even more beautiful.
Location of Your Patio
Obviously, the first decision you need to make is where to install the new patio. The standard location is in your backyard, perhaps just outside the back entrance of your home, but don’t limit yourself to this location. While it’s a classic for sure, there may be other interesting places to install your patio. For instance, think about combining your patio with a pool deck, especially if you have an in-ground pool, as you’ll enjoy a well-integrated backyard. (There could be a whole article on pool patio ideas as well!)
While you are planning out your back patio, don’t forget that you can add other features to the installation, such as a new stoop or garden area – indeed, there are many patio ideas for small gardens that can combine the beauty of your organic garden life with the man-made beauty of your new patios.
One final note – don’t just limit yourself to the back patio! Many people have begun adding patios to their front yard. Obviously, this will depend on the dimensions of your property, but front patio ideas are at least something to consider during this phase.
Choosing Patio Materials
Another decision you need to make about your patio paving is picking the right patio material. There are tons of materials you can choose from, and many different designs and patterns (more on that in a sec), so the major factors for you will probably fall more along the lines of budget than anything else. At the lower end of the price spectrum is gravel, asphalt, and concrete – they are strong and durable, but don’t offer much in the way of design choices. You can spruce up this traditional slab look with stamped and colored concrete patio options.
The next level are concrete paving slabs, large square or rectangular cuts of precast concrete. The next paving level up are pavers – concrete pavers, grass pavers, and brick pavers. Each type of patio pavers has its own qualities – I go over bricks and paving stones in other areas of this site, linked here. Finally, there are the natural stone options, such as flagstone, both in paver and slab form. These are by far the most expensive options.
Other factors that you have to consider are your project plans, the climate (cold areas may crack patio slabs), and possibilities for expansion (i.e. are you considering adding on to your project at another time).
Patio Design Ideas
Next comes the hard part – actually determining the design of your patio. A lot of your design will be determined by the material you select – for instance, pavers may be easier to form into curves and allow you to play around more with colors and patterns, moreso than traditional options like concrete. You’ll need to determine the dimensions of the patio, the pattern (if applicable), color scheme, add-ons (like walkways and steps), and more. Create a picture if you can, or get a contractor or designer to do it for you.
Don’t forget about possibly adding a system of walkways around your new patio as well! The best part of using materials like concrete pavers is that you can use the material for all your backyard projects, even if you decide to add on to the installation years down the line. Still, it makes the most economic and efficiency sense to do as much work as possible at the same time.
One way to get ideas is to be inspired by what other people have done. Look around to your friends’ and family’s patios and see what you like and dislike about their projets. You can also seek out photos to get more patio ideas. Your material manufacturer or contractor may be able to supply you with these pictures as well. (I will be adding some images soon to this page, so check back.)
Hiring a Patio Contractor
This is an important step – all your well-laid plans could go to waste by missing this step. I’ve written extensively on how to hire paver contractors here – much of what I wrote applies to hiring any contractor.
Do It Yourself Patio Ideas
One way to save money is to do it yourself – forgo hiring a contractor and install that patio with your own efforts. This will save you much money that you would have had to pay in labor costs, but you will of course pay with your own time and labor.
If you are considering this option, make sure to think about DIY patio ideas, ones that will fit with your skill level and budget. For instance, certain materials are harder to handle than others, and require more skill and experience. You may also have a difficult area to install your project in (for instance, issues with grades or soil settling/composition) that necessitate the help of an expert. Still, you may be able to do a lot of the work yourself, especially if you’re using easy to install materials like pavers and slabs.
One quick trick here is to try installing a small patio somewhere else in your yard as a ‘practice run.’ It can be a simple design where you can test out different materials, ideas, and so on. Then, when you feel more comfortable, upgrade to a larger application.
Landscaping and Your Patio
Improving the look and feel of your backyard is not just about the hardscape! Consider how adding landscaping can enhance your newly installed patio. Doing so is an easy and cheap way of increasing the beauty of your project, especially when you can’t afford high-priced materials like sandstone paving. For instance, integrating a garden with a backyard patio may be a great way to showcase your hobby while enhancing the beauty of your backyard retreat. This site doesn’t have too much information (yet) on landscaping, but consider these articles on landscaping rocks and garden pavers for some preliminary ideas.
Adding Extras to Your Patio
Once the patio has been installed, you can also add other features to your patio that can increase its beauty and utility. For instance, if you’re looking for more privacy, you can get a screened in or enclosed patio. A covered patio is also good if you want to enjoy your project in any weather – extreme rain or extreme shine. Other ideas include getting a raised paver patio, adding patio furniture, outdoor lighting, barbecue pits, fireplaces, fountains, and much more!
Even if you are not installing a new patio, or you don’t own your patio (like if you live in an apartment), you can still use these ideas to spruce up what you’ve got to make it a more enjoyable and relaxing living space.
Finally, there are plenty of ways to save money on your next patio. Cheap paving doesn’t have to be low quality as long as you make the right shortcuts. First, you can look for inexpensive materials – I discuss some ways to find pavers for sale and paving slabs for sale on this site. As already mentioned, you can make use of patio ideas on a budget by doing the work yourself. For a more in-depth discussion of costs associated to different materials, see the Costs & Saving Money section of this site, including articles on such topics as the cost of pavers and a concrete patio cost guide.