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How to Get Started Designing Your Backyard Patio

Cristina is a Florida native and Realtor by trade. She enjoys writing about travel, real estate, and any other topics she finds interesting.

It's spring, the weather is warming up, and it's time to start enjoying the outdoors (unless it's Florida, where it's time to start enjoying the AC!). You're ready to invite friends over and cook out under the stars. There's just one problem. You still don't have an outdoor patio.

Well, it's time to fix that. It's time to start planning your patio design. There's a lot to consider, so I've put together this planning 101 guide to help you with your backyard patio ideas.

This guide will provide you with all the basic information you need to get started designing your backyard patio.

This guide will provide you with all the basic information you need to get started designing your backyard patio.

Backyard Patio Designs: The Basics

If this is the first big project you've tackled at home, you’ve picked one that will provide you with years of use and satisfaction. It's also a tough project, because it has so many parts and variables. Before you get started, make sure you've planned out the following things.

Location of Your Backyard Patio

Many backyard patios are attached to the home. You open a sliding door or French doors and step onto your patio. However, nothing says that your patio has to be located adjacent to the house. Survey your yard and decide where you'd like to lay the patio.

The spot you choose should be relatively flat; otherwise, you might find yourself as a deck builder rather than a patio builder. Here in Florida, patios are typically screened as well. So the best place really might be attached to your home.

Patio Materials

Patio slabs are the most common type of patio. The poured concrete of a patio slab might be poured when the home's foundation is poured—or it can be added after. Since you're laying a patio, we can assume there isn't an existing slab. Concrete isn't your only choice in materials. Take a look at the many stones and pavers available for making a paver patio. Other choices include brick and snap-together paver tiles. All of these materials should be available at your local hardware store.

One last consideration is the weather in your area. Some materials will hold up better to rain, snow, heat, and freezing better than others.

Size and Shape of your Backyard Patio

The topography of your yard and other features in it will determine, to some extent, the size and shape of your patio. The great news is, even a small patio can offer lots of satisfaction. If you have the space, this is a great time to get really creative. Many people choose sweeping, rounded lines to make lawn care easier. Others use the patio as an anchor in the landscape design and plan according to other design features they will want to incorporate in the overall backyard design. Design the patio size and shape that works best for you.

Since it'll be your space and not someone else's, feel free to plan the exact kind of patio you actually want—not the kind that might be "expected" of you or that others think should be the ideal.

Since it'll be your space and not someone else's, feel free to plan the exact kind of patio you actually want—not the kind that might be "expected" of you or that others think should be the ideal.

Bring Together Your Outdoor Patio Ideas

Once you've decided on the basics, it's time to draw it out and start putting the plan into motion. Start with paper and pencil, particularly grid paper to keep it to scale. Take actual measurements of your yard and where any landscape features are located such as buildings, trees, and fences. This drawing should also show other patio features like pergolas, gazebos, and fire pits. If you're hiring a professional to install the patio for you, this will be an important part of their estimate for you.

  • Pergolas: These semi-covered structures create a partly shaded place on your patio. They look great with vines growing over them or with fairy lights strung among them to create a magical feeling at night. Pergolas don't have to be difficult to build—as these six pergola designs show. The most logical place to build one is attached to your home, if your patio is adjacent to it. If not, you'll want to dig post holes to anchor your pergola in concrete and give it extra structural intergrity. Pro tip: Grow your favorite vines on that pergola, and they’ll help shade you all summer long.
  • Built-in seating: On a smaller patio, you'll likely use only patio furniture for your seating area. If your outdoor patio is large enough though, you can create built-in seating. This kind of feature is often seen on decks around the perimeter, and you can use the same idea to create seating around a garden feature or fire pit.
The kind of seating you choose to go with can have a major effect on the overall feel of your backyard patio.

The kind of seating you choose to go with can have a major effect on the overall feel of your backyard patio.

  • Water features: One of the most often seen features is a pond and fountain. These add interest t your backyard and provide much-needed water for your local wildlife. Plus, they're relaxing and pretty. You can keep goldfish in a pond, or koi if the pond is large enough. Using water plants provides small animals like frogs and beneficial insects a place to take shelter. And the wildlife will appreciate having somewhere to drink water. Add a fountain or small waterfall to your pond to keep the water fresh and flowing.
  • Outdoor kitchen: A summer kitchen provides a great upgrade to any outdoor living space. Whether your outdoor kitchen is just a built-in grill or a full kitchen, adding this feature adds value to your home and can make it easier to sell when that time comes. Meanwhile, it will provide hours of entertainment and delicious food to your spring and summer plans.
  • Fire pit or fireplace: When the weather turns cooler, a fire pit or outdoor fireplace exudes warmth and a cozy place to gather around. Kids love roasting marshmallows around the fire, and you can even use some fireplaces and fire pits as a place to cook things like hot dogs and oven-fired pizza.

When You're Done Planning

Now that you've planned your perfect backyard patio, it's time to put your plans in place. Reach out to concrete companies, paver layers, and other contractors to build your patio.

If you want to give it a try on your own, a basic patio isn't very hard to install, especially if you're only extending an existing concrete patio with pavers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Liza from USA on July 06, 2020:

Yea, the balcony is pretty sturdy. Thanks for the recommendations.

Cristina Vanthul (author) from Florida on July 06, 2020:

You can do quite a bit with a balcony if it's strong enough. A light pergola might be nice as well as plant trellises. Good luck with your plans and have fun transforming your space!

Liza from USA on July 05, 2020:

Currently, I live in a condo. However, I have a pretty decent space of balcony. For the past few years, I did a few things to decorate and make it looks pleasant and comfortable space to hang out. Your ideas and tips on how to start designing the deck and patio are amazing. Thanks for sharing. I think I can apply some to decorate my balcony.