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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.