How to Build a Small Backyard Patio

Updated on February 4, 2018
sharonbellis profile image

Sharon is a human resources manager with a passion for reading and research and hanging out in her own backyard.

Backyard Design: Simple Patio Ideas

Building a small backyard patio by using simple patio design ideas is much easier than you think. It doesn't matter the size of your yard; you can create a small corner sitting area that is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Creating an outdoor space is a very economical and cost-effective way to enjoy a "staycation." If you are not familiar with the term "staycation," it basically means taking your vacation at home locally, and that can be as local as your own backyard! Relaxing in your outdoor oasis eliminates the stress of traveling to other locations. There are no planes, trains, or automobiles to drive or catch.

We tend to spend our precious vacation time in transit, and it is also costly. Don't forget about all the stress of preparation; there are no bags to pack when you relax at home and no stress thinking about what you may have forgotten to pack either!

How do you create this oasis? A first step is to investigate the many cheap patio ideas that are outlined in this article. Deciding on the material you would like for your patio is key and it is as easy as a trip to your local home improvement center.

There are many methods for laying the various types of stone that are not beyond the capabilities of the average homeowner. This article will focus mainly on stone patios, however, you can click on the link at the end of this article if you are interested in "loose materials." These are very easy to do yourself and include mulch and pea gravel for example.

Simple Patio Design: The Supplies

There are tools and basic materials that you will need to complete most patio projects. For example....

  1. Measuring tape
  2. String or twine and wooden stakes
  3. Leveling sand
  4. Crushed stone or pea gravel
  5. Paver stones
  6. Mallet
  7. Garden hose
  8. Shovel
  9. Tamper
  10. Broom
  11. Diamond Blade Saw (depends on the project)

A blade saw is used to cut stones to specific dimensions and is not a necessary purchase, but if you have decided on a patio style with precise shapes you can easily rent one of these from your local home improvement center.

Safety Is First and Foremost

Remember before digging to always check with the city for locations of any underground cables. Be safe!

Backyard Patio: The Simple Design Steps

  1. Decide where you want your patio. This is important because you don't want to be baking in the sun if you would rather be cooling in the shade! So remember placement is important.

    Think about the time of day you will use it the most and where the sun will be at that time. You may want to place it under some trees for shade. It all depends on your personal preference after all this is your little getaway spot.

  2. Measure off the length and width of your patio. Decide how much room you need. Do you only want enough room for two chairs and a small table or do you want to seat your entire family? Mark off the area with some stakes and twine or even with an outline of flour on the grass. Place your intended furniture inside your marked off area to ensure you have the space you require.
  3. Visit your local home improvement center to buy paving stones. Paving stones come in a large variety of shapes and colors. The staff at the center can help you decide how many you need depending on the measurements you have provided them.

    You will also need to purchase sand as a filler and some crushed stone or pea gravel as a base. Staff at the store can advise you on quantities but it is always best to buy a little extra.

  4. Dig out the area! You must dig to the depth of the pavers plus the sand and the base filler (pea gravel or crushed stone). It is best to go just a little deeper than your estimate, you can always level it off with the fillers.Dig out allowing for one inch of sand and crushed stone + the depth of your stone paver. (Remember before digging to always check with the city for locations of any underground cables - be safe!)
  5. Compact the soil with a tamper and fill the area. Fill with your crushed stone or pea gravel - try to keep a slight grade away from your house for water run off. A good rule of thumb is about 1/2 inch for every four feet
  6. Fill the area with leveling sand. Compact the sand with the tamper, use a wood 2x4 to level it off. Place a level on the 2x4 to ensure as you push it across you are holding it level. You will need a second set of hands to help you with this part.
  7. Lay your pavers! If they are irregular shapes start from the center and work to the outer edges. If they are square or rectangular shapes start by laying them around the four sides and work inwards. Tap them down with your mallet as you go. Adjust your plan and placement of stones to avoid having to cut them. If you need to cut for any reason, you will need to use a diamond blade saw.
  8. Spread sand or the pea gravel (crushed stone) over the finished area. Sweep it off into the spaces between the pavers.
  9. Hose down the patio with water to clean and encourage settling. Hey, you are done. Stand back and admire your work!

A little Corner is all You Need

Backyard corner
Backyard corner | Source

The Smallest Corner: So Cozy

It doesn't matter the size of your yard as all yards have corners. This corner involves the instalment of a few slabs of concrete enough for a solid area to put a table and two chairs.

When choosing your corner remember to take into consideration the whereabouts of the sun during the day. The southeast corner will be pretty sunny and hot. If the purpose is to sit in the sun then that's fine but if it is shade you are looking for then a north west corner may be a better choice.

Also, of note is what time of day you will use it most and if there are any shade trees near by. If you have large mature trees remember the roots may make digging difficult and your patio stones my not lie smooth.

Backyard Design: Create a Focal Point

Centre Point
Centre Point | Source

Greenery as A Focal point

You can do a lot with shrubs and flowers. This design is very simple but looks like it too a lot of planning with the plantings. Digging out a focal point in the centre of your patio can be great for many uses. It could serve as a water feature or a fire pit. You could plant your favourite flowers in the centre. Perhaps even a hot tub? Use your imagination.

The rectangular garden bed around the patio could be planted with shrubs. Keep in mind the height of the shrubs you don't wanted them growing very high and obstructing your view or you many want large shrubs as a privacy wall.

Irregular Shapes Serve a Dual Purpose

Irregular corner
Irregular corner | Source

Patio Rooms

This patio is created on the diagonal with twists and turns creating different outdoor "rooms". One room is for sitting, one for flower displays. You could create a different looks by changing the flower display or the furniture in your room.

A barrel would be a nice feature here with different plantings for each season depending on the climate you live in. This is a very small patio but it creates the illusion of much more space because there is much for the eye to see.

Hidden Among the Trees

Naturally among the trees
Naturally among the trees | Source

Surrounded by Nature

Escape to the forest in your own backyard. Use the trees and landscape that you already have and incorporate a sitting area. We need to get back to a natural environment especially if we live in an urban area. A sitting area in your own backyard amongst the trees and bushes can function as a great stress reliever.

The pictured patio is made up of flagstone which is a natural material that is very durable. It may be a little more expensive but in the long run very cost effective as it is virtually maintenance free.

As you can see the stones are just randomly places around the a dirt area where the grass has been dug up. The flagstone is put down and then area is then tamped down and watered and tamped again to make it solid. This creates a very natural look that blends into environment.


Flagstone is a great material for outdoor projects. Made from sedimentary rock it is a surface made by nature itself. It is a very durable surface and even when wet it is slip resistant.

Flagstone can be installed easily on a sand base which makes it a great do-it-yourself project. For a more formal look it can be set in cement. Both methods are equally durable it just depends on the look you are after. Although setting it in cement is a little more complicated and takes more time and skill.

Beautiful Flagstone

Flagstone | Source

Natural Flagstone

Flagstone creates an inviting look to the backyard that really complements it's natural surroundings. This patio is a little more formal and the flagstone has been set in concrete to keep it static. Another advantage to this is less maintenance as the weeds will have difficulty popping up through the cracks.

Solar Lights to Illuminate your Backyard Patio

Solar lights are a green and economical way of providing lighting to your outdoor space. Lighting extends the use of your backyard patio beyond sundown. Just imagine how relaxing it would be to sit outside among the stars enjoying your patio.

These lights soak up the sun all day to provide a luminous glow at night. No need for electrical outlets,messy wires and awkward placements because you must have them near an outlet. You can place these lights anywhere you want for visual impact.

A Tiny Spot with Big Impact

Impact with shrubs
Impact with shrubs | Source

Easy Squares

Here we see how a tiny patio can be put practically anywhere to create an inviting space to sit and relax. This little patio just needs some furniture or .... perhaps not - you can sit right down here, cross legged and breathe in the air. It creates an inviting entry way into the yard.

All this patio installation required was a few patio slabs and a dug out area. No grass to cut here either. This is a very low maintenance patio with perennial plants that come up every year.

Backyard Design: Square Patio

Square patio stones
Square patio stones | Source

Traditional Squares

This newly installed patio is just a simple square pattern angled on one side.It almost looks unfinished. A pathway of irregularly shaped stones take you the centre patio area and out to the side of the house as an exit.

These stones were placed on a mulch foundation that is very easy to work with and very soft underfoot. Mulch is very natural looking and will absorb and keep water for plantings. This is great particularly for dryer climates.

Get Creative with Shape

Circular patio
Circular patio | Source


You don't have to be so square....or rectangular. Traditional patios are usually that shape. Think differently and try round edges for a different spin on things. A curved round patio can fit in the smallest of spaces but still be very functional as a sitting area.

You will need to dig out a circle and buy the curved edge pavers for this design. This patio was incorporated into the landscape that was already there and left to look very natural. Sometimes it is okay to let weeds and grass grow up through your patio stones. In this example it looks very natural.

Cheap Patio Designs: A Little Red Brick

Red Bricks
Red Bricks | Source

Simple Red Bricks

Here is a wonderful red brick backyard patio. Just a tiny little square area and it blends so well into the natural environment. The red of the paver bricks creates a brilliant contrast with the greenery of the yard.

The colour of these bricks is what makes the most impact. Even if greenery starts to sprout in between the spaces of the bricks it would still look very appealing. Sometimes it is better to let nature take over your installation to some extent; it just makes it more beautiful.

A Side Yard Escape

Sideyard patio
Sideyard patio | Source

Side Yard Patio

Here is a gorgeous example of a patio at the side of a garage. Try thinking outside of the box; a patio doesn't necessarily have to be in the backyard.

Perhaps, you don't have the backyard space because you are on a corner lot. A patio can be enjoyed anywhere around your house.

If you are concerned about privacy an extra fence, trellis or shrubbery can be added or you can sit and watch the world go by outside your door.

Backyard Patio: Try Your Own Personal Look

Unique style
Unique style | Source

Unique Designs

Here is a very unique looking patio. It has a simple design that combines a hard surface with loose rock material as a filler and an accent. This can certainly be achieved as a do it yourself project. You can create something very unique using these materials and your own choices of colours and sizes. The addition of a canopy and posts make this design very attractive and increases its use to include rainy days.


Patterned Concrete Patio
Patterned Concrete Patio | Source

Patterned Concrete

Here is a nice clean example of a small concrete backyard patio. Patterned in square and rectangles this type of installation is probably best done by professionals. Patterned concrete is not a do it yourself type of installation unless you have experience working with concrete.

Do you have a favourite backyard spot to escape to?

See results

Which Small Backyard Patio Design Do You Like Best?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Sharon Bellissimo


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Catherine Wambui profile image

        Catherine Wambui 23 months ago from Kansas City, Missouri

        Great ideas!

      • CrossCreations profile image

        Carolan Ross 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

        What a delightfully creative page about small backyard patios! Well done!

      • rking96 profile image

        Rick King 4 years ago from Charleston, SC

        I miss my screened in porch at my old house. The bugs here in South Carolina make it difficult to enjoy the outdoors sometimes. But the wind from the coast helps.

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        We don't have a backyard patio, but we really enjoy our backyard. I make up backyard Olympics for the kids. Great article thanks for sharing!

      • adragast24 profile image

        adragast24 4 years ago

        We have a small concrete backyard. Not wonderful but still pretty nice in summer timer.

      • profile image

        Scott A McCray 4 years ago

        Well done - excellent lens!

      • profile image

        mumsgather 4 years ago

        How perfectly charming. I wish I had a green patch at home.

      • Gypzeerose profile image

        Rose Jones 4 years ago

        I am in the process of making a nice backyard area - it is going to another room in my home, one I hope to spend a lot of time in.

      • takkhisa profile image

        Takkhis 4 years ago

        I like your ideas! I think my mom definitely would like to read this lens. Bookmarked :)

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        cool ideas

      • profile image

        julieannbrady 5 years ago

        I've done a few backyard patios in my recent life. I like small with impact ... adding pizzazz to tiny spaces. Actually thinking about another accent area in my backyard. Very nice page!

      • profile image

        webmavern 5 years ago

        We just love to spend time outdoors and having different little areas to sit in at different times of the day is great. Thanks for some wonderful ideas and tips!

      • profile image

        getmoreinfo 5 years ago

        Thanks for the information about How to Build a Small Backyard Patio

      • norcalkitten78 lm profile image

        norcalkitten78 lm 5 years ago

        I love my backyard patio area, it is so nice!!! I want to find a cheap garden shed that I can put out there for storage.

      • Linda BookLady profile image

        Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

        Thanks so much for the tips on backyard patio building...

      • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

        GardenIdeasHub LM 5 years ago

        Your tips about how to build a small backyard patio are really great!

      • juditpaton profile image

        Iudit Gherghiteanu 5 years ago from Ozun

        beautiful ideas and very good advises...i am going to make a path and your lens is just came in the right time...thanks.

      • Gloriousconfusion profile image

        Diana Grant 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        I loved all the photos - Angel blessings for a beautiful web page

      • Carashops profile image

        Cara 5 years ago

        Some cute ideas for starting out making a patio.

      • profile image

        coolmon2009 lm 5 years ago

        Nice ideas for patio designs.

      • profile image

        Jack-in-the-Box 5 years ago

        Love Love Love you lens on how to build a small backyard patio. I think I am ready to tackle this now. Thanks...great lens!!!

      • MarcStorm LM profile image

        MarcStorm LM 5 years ago

        I love the pictures you chose! I like the make a focal point idea! Someday I hope to have a nice water fountain big enough to sit by and write or just peacefully let my mind wander with the trickling waters. Great article!

      • Gypzeerose profile image

        Rose Jones 5 years ago

        Both of your patio lenses are great. I pinned them on my home beautification board for when I can get to it. Squidoo Blessed.

      • SoSimplyStephanie profile image

        Stephanie 5 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

        Great ideas. My parents have a patio area like these that they call their 'tiki'. They used the large stepping stones, added a nice table and unbrella set, it has a small rock pond and is surrounded by plants and tiki torches. When they light all the torches at night for these Florida Skeeters it reminds me of something from Survivor.

      • Michey LM profile image

        Michey LM 5 years ago

        Great ideas and pictures, I enjoy them.

      • profile image

        MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

        Yes, I love your lens. Great information

      • profile image

        purpleslug 5 years ago

        Thanks for all the ideas and information.

      • UKGhostwriter profile image

        UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

        Excellent lens!!

      • Gayle Dowell profile image

        Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

        Actually we have a front yard patio that we enjoy in the country.

      • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

        SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

        Wonderful, loved it. Loved the corner spot. Especially with your dog there with you.

      • nicks44 profile image

        nicks44 5 years ago

        This is such a lovely lens, well done putting it together!

      • ramonabeckbritman profile image

        Ramona 5 years ago from Arkansas

        I love my back yard. I call it my " Lil oasis, paradise".... Nothing fancy but it's mine. Love your lens.

      • Diana Wenzel profile image

        Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

        I love small backyard patio nooks. Very cozy. A peaceful oasis doesn't have to be large to be totally fabulous. Thanks for these great tips and ideas.

      • profile image

        poutine 5 years ago

        yes, I do every day.

      • profile image

        LaurelThomson 5 years ago

        I have a large garden but was looking to install small seating areas and this has perfect ideas.

      • profile image

        katieross 5 years ago

        These are beautiful. It makes me want to spruce up my yard for the summer!

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        I would absolutely love one!

      • flinnie lm profile image

        Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

        Hi I am out in my backyard everyday, I love the space. Great photos, I enjoyed reading your lens.

      • Lenskeeper profile image

        Lenskeeper 5 years ago

        I love it when people make amazing spaces out of previously boring yards.

      • profile image

        kmyangel 5 years ago

        I would love a nice patio but for now i live in a apartment building :(

      • profile image

        opticstoreonline 5 years ago

        laved the way the space has been utilized. I am definitely going to try the round shape as it looks gorgeous. Great lens

      • psiloveyou1 profile image

        psiloveyou1 5 years ago

        Great photos! I have a little patio that I enjoy next to my fish pond. Congrats on your purple star!

      • microfarmproject profile image

        microfarmproject 5 years ago

        Yes, I love my patio and am thinking of building another in a different area of the yard. Thanks!

      • profile image

        SteveKaye 5 years ago

        We live in California where the weather is warm most of the year. So we will eat meals on our patio. It's great.

      • mel-kav profile image

        mel-kav 5 years ago

        Yes - definitely! I recently moved and I really miss my old backyard paradise! However - it's time to create a new one! Thanks for the inspiration!

      • RoadMonkey profile image

        RoadMonkey 5 years ago

        Yes, a great place to sit and relax. We have a long path down the side of the house with a garden bench. With a small retaining wall in front for a flower bed, it makes a handy place to rest your mug. Your lens shows us that no matter how small, a patio is useful in a garden.

      • blessedmomto7 profile image

        blessedmomto7 5 years ago

        I wish I had a flatter backyard so I could have a patio!

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        This is a great idea. Amazing how a few blocks of concrete or stone can give you a place to commune with backyard nature.

      • profile image

        vBizeso 5 years ago

        Nice Lens

      • CameronPoe profile image

        CameronPoe 5 years ago

        This is a great suggestion. I was just thinking of a setup the other day that included beach chairs as furniture.

      • profile image

        Natural_Skin_Care 5 years ago

        I liked them all. Made me think of a secret garden.

      • sharonbellis profile image

        Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

        @UKGhostwriter: Thank you! :)

      • sharonbellis profile image

        Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

        @erika-awakening: Good idea, thanks!

      • sharonbellis profile image

        Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

        @VeseliDan: Thank you :)

      • profile image

        pequeflores 5 years ago

        me encanta las ideas que dejas sobre los patios traseros, los que están escondidos tras los árboles son los que más me gustan. Preciosos !!

      • bechand profile image

        bechand 5 years ago

        i need to make my patio - thanks for the tips - i need a big one though - huge yard. I do like the one with the tree in the middle ... kinda different:O)

      • katiecolette profile image

        katiecolette 5 years ago

        We are planning on building a wooden deck - hopefully, will complete the project within the next month or so, so that we can enjoy it this summer :) Great lens with excellent photos!

      • intermarks profile image

        intermarks 5 years ago

        I think to have a patio in the backyard is something really great. It will be nice to have a patio to relax. Thanks!

      • peggygallyot profile image

        peggygallyot 5 years ago

        I love your work here .Great ideas.

      • VeseliDan profile image

        VeseliDan 5 years ago

        I love to relax on my backyard patio. *blessed*

      • Rosaquid profile image

        Rosaquid 5 years ago

        We have several little patios around our yard. Thanks for the tips!

      • jlshernandez profile image

        jlshernandez 5 years ago

        I defintely enjoy my backyard deck/patio. This is where I putter around the most with my hanging plants and watch the hummingbirds.

      • profile image

        erika-awakening 5 years ago

        I like your photographs - makes me think of sitting out there drinking lemonade :) I think I prefer some cement between my pavers so they are more sturdily grounded. Might be a good topic for expanding your lens if you ever feel like it. :)

      • SydneyH LM profile image

        SydneyH LM 5 years ago

        There are some great ideas and inspiration here!

      • UKGhostwriter profile image

        UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      • aksem profile image

        aksem 5 years ago

        You made a great job. Thank you.

      • sharonbellis profile image

        Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

        @anonymous: Thank you! Appreciated. :)

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        Welcome to my Canadian Lensmasters on Squidoo lens.

        Blessed by a Squidoo Angel

      • WriterJanis2 profile image

        WriterJanis2 5 years ago

        I do, but it needs work.

      • Im into that profile image

        Im into that 5 years ago

        My backyard is a wind tunnel! nothing much stays where it should hehe

      • MermaidDoc profile image

        MermaidDoc 5 years ago

        We have a big cedar deck where we love to sit in the sun and relax!

      • profile image

        AnimalHouse 5 years ago

        Staycations can be great and relaxing with patios like these.

      • ItayaLightbourne profile image

        Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

        Maybe one day we will have the ideal setup in our backyard to enjoy it all. :)

      • Elsie Hagley profile image

        Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

        Yes, I love it.Great lens, thanks for sharing, you made some great points.

      • Camden1 profile image

        Camden1 5 years ago

        We're enjoying ours much more this year since we got a big umbrella and some comfy furniture!

      • SheilaMilne profile image

        SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

        I love your idea of a patio hidden among the trees!

      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

        We have porches rather than patios, but yes, I do love backyard patios and your great ideas and inspiring pictures!

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        This give me some ideas for my yard.

      • randomthings lm profile image

        randomthings lm 5 years ago

        LOVE the pictures. Really helps the imagination imagine a great patio!

      • biminibahamas profile image

        biminibahamas 5 years ago

        Nice lens, looking forward to starting my own backyard oasis!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        Love the way you organized your lens.