How to Build a Small Backyard Patio - Dengarden - Home and Garden
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How to Build a Small Backyard Patio

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

Sunrays through the trees into your backyard oasis

Sunrays through the trees into your backyard oasis

Building a small backyard patio with simple patio design ideas is much easier than you think. It doesn't matter the size of your yard; you can still create a 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!

Backyard Design: Simple Patio Ideas

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.

Garden equipment ready to go

Garden equipment ready to go

Simple Patio Design: The Supplies

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

  • Measuring tape
  • String or twine and wooden stakes
  • Leveling sand
  • Crushed stone or pea gravel
  • Paver stones
  • Mallet
  • Garden hose
  • Shovel
  • Tamper
  • Broom
  • 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!

Check before you dig

Check before you dig

A Small 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.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 runoff. 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!

Need Some Inspiration?

There are many materials you can use and many ways you can design a backyard patio area. Just scroll through the many photos below of unique yet simple outdoor spaces.

A little Corner Is All You Need

Backyard corner patio for two!

Backyard corner patio for two!

The Smallest Corner: So Cozy

It doesn't matter the size of your yard as all yards have corners. This corner involves the installment 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 northwest 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 nearby. If you have large mature trees, remember the roots may make digging difficult, and your patio stones may not lie smooth.

Backyard Design: Create a Focal Point

Patio around a garden center point

Patio around a garden center point

Greenery as a Focal Point

You can do a lot with shrubs and flowers. This design is very simple but looks like it took 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 want them growing very high and obstructing your view, or you may want large shrubs as a privacy wall.

Irregular Shapes Serve a Dual Purpose

Irregular corner stones with potted flowers

Irregular corner stones with potted flowers

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 look 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

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 placed around a dirt area where the grass has been dug up. The flagstone is put down, and the area is then tamped down and watered and tamped again to make it solid. This creates a very natural look that blends into the environment.

Unique and Natural Flagstone

Natural Flagstone

Natural Flagstone

Flagstone

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

Flagstone

Natural Flagstone

Flagstone creates an inviting look to the backyard that really complements its 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

Square patio tiles as a path and seat area

Square patio tiles as a path and seat area

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 entryway 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

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

Curvaceous!

This patio is unique in its round shape, which creates immediate interest. This project can be an easy DIY if you measure correctly, you may not have to cut any stones. It may be a little for challenging to measure out the circle, but also more forgiving if you do make a mistake and have to insert a smaller stone.

In this example, the greenery is allowed to grow through the cracks and thus creates a very natural atmosphere. If you like this look be sure to keep the green growth cut back in order to keep the area from appearing as though it's being neglected!

Cheap Patio Designs: A Little Red Brick

Red brick pavers square patio

Red brick pavers square patio

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

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 with a pergola

Unique style with a pergola

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.

Consider Concrete!

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.

Mix Flagstone With Interlock

Grey pavers surrounded by mulch

Grey pavers surrounded by mulch

Add a Stone Bench!

Large stones positioned correctly create extra seating in a bench style. This patio is small but still provides enough space for a table and several chairs. The centre is an interlocking brick-in-square style with some flagstone at the outer edges to round it off. This creates interest and blends the patio with the stone bench. Once the plants grow out, it will look even more very natural and inviting.

Interlocking pavers for a perfect rectangle

Interlocking pavers for a perfect rectangle

Interlocking Rectangle

This design is plain and simple—just a large rectangle. No stone to cut if you plan it right and measure it out correctly. You can then just dig up the area and insert stones. Be sure to measure the stones and adjust your area dimensions so you can "put together the puzzle" without any additional cutting of stone.

Create more interest by dressing up the area with scrubs and mulch. This is a DIY project that can be done in a day.

Large paver stones in white with grey accents

Large paver stones in white with grey accents

Clean Lines in Backyard Style

The white pavers are arranged with decorative grey stones as accents. It's a very simple rectangular design that requires no cutting if you measure according to your stone sizes. Paths leading to and from the patio make this patio the focal point of the yard.

Pavers take over the backyard with a patch of green grass

Pavers take over the backyard with a patch of green grass

Mostly Patio Backyard

Feeling confident? Tired of cutting grass? Perhaps you want to create a larger patio space in your yard. It really isn't that much harder, just takes more time and you may want the help of a friend or two. This garden patio is not perfect in it's dimesions and it doesn' t have to be. The solid surface blends nicely with the grassy areas. Pavers make this an easy DIY projects. Again, there doesn't have to be any cutting involved if you measure out the area and buy appropriately sized pavers. Measure twice, don't cut at all!

Romantic getaway in your own backyard.  A pergola with flowing drapery

Romantic getaway in your own backyard. A pergola with flowing drapery

An Oasis at Nightfall

How lovely is this? Just imagine illuminating your backyard patio to extend the use of your outdoor space well into the night. This contruction is a pretty straightforward installation of patio stones with a pathway to a larger "room" that surrounded by loose river rocks as a decorative feature.

The outdoor gazebo is easily purchased at your local home improvement centre. Most gazebos are simple to assemble in either wood or metal. Of course, if you are handy you can design and build your own! Often the metal types of gazebos come with drapery features. The drapery is just an option as it will still look very elegant with onlyl the attached lighting.

In this example the lighting (just use outdoor Christmas type lights) is strung through the upper "rafters" of the gazebo. A nice alternative, particularly if you do not use the drapes, is to wind the lighting around the posts.

Pull up a Chair!

Two seats and a table perfect for two!

Two seats and a table perfect for two!

Loose-Material Patios

Rustic wood chairs on the grass

Rustic wood chairs on the grass

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where is a trellis made or bought?

Answer: A trellis can be purchased at local home improvement centers, or you can fashion your own with fencing materials available there too.

Question: What is a tamper?

Answer: A hand tool used to flatten surfaces.

© 2012 Sharon Bellissimo

Comments

Sean OCallaghan from Liverpool on December 12, 2016:

Very good article. Good prep and it will last forever just keep on top of cleaning it

Catherine Wambui from Kansas City, Missouri on May 21, 2016:

Great ideas!

Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on September 29, 2013:

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

Rick King from Charleston, SC on July 08, 2013:

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.

anonymous on July 04, 2013:

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 on July 03, 2013:

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

Scott A McCray on July 03, 2013:

Well done - excellent lens!

mumsgather on July 03, 2013:

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

Rose Jones on May 19, 2013:

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.

Takkhis on May 11, 2013:

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

anonymous on May 02, 2013:

cool ideas

julieannbrady on February 17, 2013:

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!

webmavern on January 12, 2013:

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!

getmoreinfo on January 11, 2013:

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

norcalkitten78 lm on December 27, 2012:

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 Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on October 27, 2012:

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

GardenIdeasHub LM on October 25, 2012:

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

Iudit Gherghiteanu from Ozun on September 02, 2012:

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

Diana Grant from United Kingdom on August 31, 2012:

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

Cara on August 19, 2012:

Some cute ideas for starting out making a patio.

coolmon2009 lm on August 14, 2012:

Nice ideas for patio designs.

Jack-in-the-Box on August 12, 2012:

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 on July 12, 2012:

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!

Rose Jones on July 08, 2012:

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

Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on June 29, 2012:

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 on June 20, 2012:

Great ideas and pictures, I enjoy them.

MarcellaCarlton on June 18, 2012:

Yes, I love your lens. Great information

purpleslug on June 03, 2012:

Thanks for all the ideas and information.

UKGhostwriter on June 03, 2012:

Excellent lens!!

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on June 02, 2012:

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

SecondHandJoe LM on June 02, 2012:

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

nicks44 on June 02, 2012:

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

Ramona from Arkansas on June 01, 2012:

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

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on June 01, 2012:

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.

poutine on June 01, 2012:

yes, I do every day.

LaurelThomson on May 30, 2012:

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

katieross on May 30, 2012:

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

anonymous on May 30, 2012:

I would absolutely love one!

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on May 30, 2012:

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

Lenskeeper on May 30, 2012:

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

kmyangel on May 30, 2012:

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

opticstoreonline on May 29, 2012:

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

psiloveyou1 on May 29, 2012:

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

microfarmproject on May 29, 2012:

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

SteveKaye on May 29, 2012:

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 on May 29, 2012:

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 on May 29, 2012:

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 on May 29, 2012:

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

anonymous on May 29, 2012:

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

vBizeso on May 29, 2012:

Nice Lens

CameronPoe on May 29, 2012:

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

Natural_Skin_Care on May 28, 2012:

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

Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 28, 2012:

@UKGhostwriter: Thank you! :)

Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 28, 2012:

@erika-awakening: Good idea, thanks!

Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 28, 2012:

@VeseliDan: Thank you :)

pequeflores on May 28, 2012:

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 on May 28, 2012:

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 on May 28, 2012:

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 on May 28, 2012:

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 on May 28, 2012:

I love your work here .Great ideas.

VeseliDan on May 27, 2012:

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

Rosaquid on May 27, 2012:

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

jlshernandez on May 27, 2012:

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

erika-awakening on May 27, 2012:

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 on May 27, 2012:

There are some great ideas and inspiration here!

UKGhostwriter on May 27, 2012:

Pinned !! http://pinterest.com/pin/85286986663714188/

aksem on May 26, 2012:

You made a great job. Thank you.

Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 25, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you! Appreciated. :)

anonymous on May 22, 2012:

Welcome to my Canadian Lensmasters on Squidoo lens.

Blessed by a Squidoo Angel

WriterJanis2 on May 20, 2012:

I do, but it needs work.

Im into that on May 18, 2012:

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

MermaidDoc on May 15, 2012:

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

AnimalHouse on May 15, 2012:

Staycations can be great and relaxing with patios like these.

Itaya Lightbourne from Topeka, KS on May 14, 2012:

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

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on May 14, 2012:

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

Camden1 on May 14, 2012:

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

SheilaMilne from Kent, UK on May 14, 2012:

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

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on May 14, 2012:

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

anonymous on May 14, 2012:

This give me some ideas for my yard.

randomthings lm on May 14, 2012:

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

biminibahamas on May 14, 2012:

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

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 13, 2012:

Love the way you organized your lens.