A simple guide to patio design

When it comes to planning a new patio, you must use the basic principles of design. And this is a simple Lazy Susan tried and tested guide to patio design that will hopefully help you do just that. Easy to follow, it will help you get started and give you a few pointers that’ll help you start planning your dream patio:

Measure the plot

Measure your patio and draw a scale sketch. Include the adjoining house walls, windows, and garden area surrounding the patio. Make some extra copies of this basic sketch so you can draw different ideas for your patio (not too much of an issue if you’re using a computer).

Plan your planting scheme

Decide if you have room for permanent plants along the edge of the patio or whether all of your garden will be in containers. Permanent plants might be shrubs, trellis plantings, or tall plants that would create a living privacy screen.

Large container plants can also create a walled effect, or try using a shelf divider filled with plants to make a living wall that can easily be revamped anytime. Simply shift or replace potted plants on the shelves to refresh the look.

Think about your garden furniture

Measure for furniture placement on the patio area, and mark your design sheet sketch. Then visualize the empty corners and floor space areas where you will have room for plant containers. Consider the traffic pattern, and allow plenty of walking space. Place your garden containers so they are easily accessible for watering and plant care.

If you will incorporate a grill and dining area into your patio design, use some of your patio garden for culinary herbs. Herbs also lend fragrance to the patio. Besides sketching the floor plan of your patio garden, remember vertical spaces, too.

A row of hanging baskets contributes elements of color and texture without taking up floor space. Small planters can be used on tables and storage cabinets to add splashes of colour.

Our Space Requirements page will help if you’re incorporating new Lazy Susan pieces.

Think about the colour scheme

Select flowers and plants to suit the atmosphere you want to create. Bold, bright colors will give your patio garden a feeling of energy. For a quiet place to unwind, pastel colors and lush greenery lend a relaxing, peaceful mood.

Look through garden catalogs and magazines for ideas you can incorporate into your patio garden design. A small bubbling water fountain, wind chimes, bird feeders and other accessories add to the ambiance.

Do you want outdoor lighting?

Evaluate your patio lighting needs. If bright outside lights are already in place, you may wish to install decorative accent lighting, perhaps some soft up-lighting. Solar garden lights are very effective, and they have simple wireless installation. Solar light photocell panels do access to sunlight to recharge.

Follow your own guide to patio design

Take your patio sketch with you to your local nursery/garden centre, and select plants with size and sunlight requirements that fit your needs. If your patio garden is a place where children or pets will play, make sure that none of the plants you select are poisonous.

Think about drainage

In addition to this ‘starter’ design process, other important characteristics of any patio include drainage, weed control and borders. For proper draining, it’s important to allow for sufficient water run off and a good rule of thumb is a one inch of slope for every 8-12 feet of patio.

You can measure the slope by using a leveled piece of string tied to two stakes (or screwdrivers work really well for this one) and a ruler.

Prevent weeds

For the most part, a properly installed patio will control its own weeds. However, if you’re using loose materials it’s a good idea to lay a sheet of plastic membrane or other suitable material before you begin filling. And remember to poke some holes in the plastic to allow the rain water to drain.

Paving stones and other stone type of patios and walkways will always get the occasional weed growing in the cracks. These are just surface weeds and are pretty much unavoidable I’m afraid.

However, they’re easy enough to remove by hand and if you do get excessive weeds growing, then a good spray of weed killer on the surface will take care of the problem.

A good border will finish your patio

Also, its important not to forget the border as any finished patio has a distinctive end. You can accomplish borders by use of stones in a different direction or fascia boards to show the definite end just to name a couple of the options you have. There are also prefabricated borders available at the DIY stores and Garden Centres.

Finishing touches for your Patio

Whatever type of patio you choose, take into consideration awnings, arbors, trellises, or any other type of constructed device that you’ll want to include during the initial planning stages. If you decide you want to add something as an afterthought it may be too late.

Another finishing touch that needs to be considered from the off is the surrounding landscape and any retaining walls.

If you have an area that slopes into your patio, you may want to use a retaining wall to keep it in place. By using the same type of material you use in building your patio, you’re able to tie the two together in a cohesive fashion.

Also, if you need to add a step or two as an entrance or an exit from the patio, you want to build the steps out of the same stone or any other material as used in your patio and keep everything coordinated

Don’t forget about landscaping too, as you may have views that need to be blocked or enhanced when viewing your garden from your new patio. Use plants and shrubs that will compliment the shapes and colors you choose. Other finishing touches include outdoor fireplaces or BBQ’s.

These can be as informal as a purchased chimney style outdoor fireplace, to a constructed rock centerpiece with chimney. Fireplaces can convert a summer outdoor entertainment area into an ‘almost’ all year round entertainment by adding that much needed warmth in the colder evenings.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought and please don’t be afraid of going down the DIY route as its great fun, just keep things simple and you can’t go wrong. However, if you do want something a little more sophisticated, then please call the professionals.

We will definitely be looking at expanding on this guide to patio design in future blogs as its such a vast subject. Plus, we’ve only scratched the surface here with a very basic overview. But this is such an integral part of what we do here at Lazy Susan, its only right we look at this subject in greater detail over the coming months.

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