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Home in the Outdoors: Designing Your Deck or Patio

By Lauren Busser The House Designers Contributing Writer

Spring will quickly give way to summer and with it comes relaxing afternoons for grilling and outdoor entertaining. If this is something you’ve wanted but just don’t have an inviting patio area in which to do it, let us help you design a new outdoor space, including your patio and any other outdoor spaces you’d like to renovate. Here are a few design tips to help you get the most out of your outdoor living spaces.

First you need to decide just what you would like to use this space for. If simply barbequing and entertaining guests is your plan, then you will need a patio large enough to accommodate furniture. On the other hand, you might like to create a serene outdoor garden, just for enjoying your flowers and other plantings in the great outdoors. As you begin designing, take your time and make sketches of how you’d ultimately like your space to look. When you’re happy with your design you can begin to choose the materials which will work best in that space.

Dakota fireplace

This patio features the Dakota outdoor fireplace by Heat & Glo™ that creates a cozy space for outdoor dining.

You have a wide variety of choices in building materials, from pavers or tile to natural stone. Each material has its own unique properties which may lead you to choose one over another.

Brick is an extremely popular choice, in part because it’s now available in a rainbow of colors. Patio brick differs from the sort of structural brick you’d see in a wall, in that it’s fired in a way that makes it less porous. This is important for locales with widely varying seasonal temperatures as it resists freezing and cracking. As beautiful as it is, it’s generally the least expensive option.

Pavers are another excellent, economical choice when it comes to a patio material. They are usually made from concrete or clay and come in various sizes, colors, and shapes. Pavers are widely available, relatively inexpensive, and their installation is simple and straightforward.

Stone and tile are very beautiful but are among the most expensive choices. A stone patio is environmentally friendly and gives a luxurious natural look with an interesting, somewhat uneven surface. Tile is absolutely gorgeous, but may become slippery when wet, which may or may not be a concern.

Boral Pavers

This walkway made with Boral Brick® Pavers is a beautiful mix of nature and industry. The potted plants provide a good transition between the two surfaces.

Remember that although each of these surface materials has its own unique properties and benefits, there are other factors which may influence your decision. For instance, take into consideration the actual landscape that your patio will occupy. Try to work with your space in a natural way. For example an area of pavers which simply ends abruptly at the edge of the lawn may look awkward and out of place. Using border materials like sand or mulch will help graduate the transition from one design element to another.

Softening the edges and borders of the patio can also bring you closer to nature. Instead of a fence, consider putting in a trellis as a way of encouraging flowering vines to climb and grow. If you desire a thicker, denser border you can simply place the trellis slats closer together.

You’ll of course want to have a look at your desired level of privacy. If you’ve got limited backyard space bordering nearby properties then this is probably something to plan carefully. There are plenty of ways to create an attractive partition including fences, tall shrubs, trees, a hedge row or even bamboo. Lighting is another design element that not only helps with safety but will help you to enjoy your beautiful outdoor space long after the sun sets.

Done right, your new patio will be a place you’ll really enjoy and designing and building it can be fun. You should definitely seek the advice of your builder if you have any questions regarding the design or construction of your patio.