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An outdoor entertaining area with a dining table and chairs and a couch
Extend the use of your outdoor area with a well-planned patio.
 

Backyard bliss

Whether it’s a space for entertaining on summer nights, or a solo retreat, a well-designed patio is the ultimate addition to your garden. It can be attached to the house or stand separate, making the most of a sunny spot or amplifying a view. We’re sharing a few pointers on how to design the perfect patio.

Consider the location 

Interior designer James Treble (jamestreble.com) says the obvious place for a patio is off an open-plan living or dining space, if the house allows. A patio off the living or dining areas provides easy access to the house's kitchen.

If an outdoor kitchen is part of the plan, positioning the patio next to the house makes sense, says landscape architect Meredith Gleeson of Outdoor Establishments (outdoorestablishments.com). “You can connect to utilities and create an extension of the entertaining area from within a home, making a versatile ‘indoor/outdoor’ space,” she says.

 
A table and chairs in a backyard on a paved area

Make it a destination

Locating the patio away from the house creates a destination zone within your garden, making the most of an underused area. Consider light (do you want a sun-trap or a shady retreat?) and how the space will be used – say, as a private corner, entertaining space or teen hangout. An overhead pergola structure is practical and makes a statement. A curved concrete bench seat can create a cosy nook. (This was created by Bunnings Workshop member ProjectPete. Check out his full backyard project.) Firepits are also a popular inclusion, turning the patio into more of a conversation zone.

Safety tip: For fire safety, don’t locate firepits in a covered area, and check with your local authority for regulations around usage.

  A lounge with cushions on a paved area under cover in a backyard

Choose the flooring carefully

The appearance and the usability of a patio will be influenced by it's flooring material.

A poured concrete slab is a functional choice for level areas. Bricks are easy to care for and recycled ones have a rustic look. Natural stone flags (like granite or limestone) look amazing, but they can be pricey and require maintenance. Pavers are relatively simple to install yourself, and can replicate more expensive stone. Ceramic tiles usually need to be professionally laid over a concrete slab, but - once installed - are simple to maintain. In a sunny area, pale pavers may be cooler underfoot than darker ones, but can be glary in bright light.

For homes on bearers and joists, or where you have different levels or uneven ground, a raised timber deck could be the answer. “It’s great for summer as it doesn’t make the space hot and you can hose it,” says James.

These larger style stepping pads create a path to an outdoor area while making a style statement.

 Outdoor area with a lounge, fire pit, chairs and rugs on the ground

Add some screening 

Any patio – but particularly one set away from the house – will benefit from screening to provide a sense of privacy. If your patio is in a corner of the garden, you’re halfway there: simply soften the wall or fence with greenery, such as fast-growing lilly pilly, camellias (which give a hit of colour through to winter), or the fragrant wonder of star jasmine (trachelospermum jasminoides).

A fixed pergola will define the area. It can be ‘walled’ with decorative screening and/or roofed with climbing plants like jasmine for shade. A row of trough planters or large pots with tall shrubs is an easy screening fix, while a shade sail overhead will help keep you cooler in summer.

A dog, lounge, chairs, fire pit with a hedge in a backyard

Select the right furniture

The furniture should suit the patio’s function. A casual daytime retreat might just need a hammock or daybed and a shade umbrella. A full-on entertaining space will likely call for a lounge or dining setting, plus outdoor lighting and even heating, if you intend to use the area year-round. If you include an outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to add task lighting. If lighting a conversation zone, keep it low, warm and ambient.

Backyard with an outdoor setting and an outdoor table and chairs 

Looking for a unique patio flooring option?

Try crazy paving. We'll show you how to D.I.Y. this type of paving with our step-by-step guide.

 

Photo Credit: James Moffatt, Kate Claridge, Pete Wernicke/Kayu Design Co, Adam Robinson Design, Sue Stubbs and Brigid Arnott

 

Some photographs feature products from suppliers other than Bunnings.

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.