Fancy giving the outside of your property a bit of makeover? How about replacing an old patio or maybe you’re planning a brand new patio for 2016? Well now is the time to start researching what you’d like, set the wheels in motion. That way it can be designed, built, and ready to use for the start of next summer.
Here at Lazy Susan we’re well into our ‘off’ season as far as garden furniture is concerned, so the next few months is the perfect time to have a look at how you can set about designing your new patio, what patio shapes, styles and materials work best etc. A well designed patio will bring together your home seamlessly with your outdoor space, providing a solid level surface for items such as containers, and most importantly, garden furniture.
Start planning a new patio for 2016 now
Lets get one thing out there up front, this is a big subject area, so I plan to break this article up into a couple of posts. This month I wanted to start by looking at how to kick start the thought process. There’s no point calling in a landscape or building firm if you’ve not got a clear idea in your head of what you’d like the finished patio to be?
From shape to building materials, we will look at a few basics, and then next month I’ll take it a step further. Focus on how you would actually go about designing a new patio yourself. Or at the very least getting a few ideas down on paper that’ll help you get the professionals on the same page.
What is the purpose of your patio?
So to start things off, the first question you need to ask is how do you use your current patio, and/or how would you like to use your new patio in the future. This will form the foundation of your design, influencing everything from size and shape, to the materials you choose to put down.
Do you like to sit outside (weather permitting) on a Sunday morning with a coffee? Then a smaller enclosed intimately styled patio with a bistro set could be the way to go. Or do you like to host a large family BBQ? Then you’ll definitely want to go for things like a larger dining set, Gas BBQ, patio heater, awning etc. Sounds daft, but these are the questions you need to ask, establish how you currently or how you and your family would like to use the patio.
What size fits your needs and will work with your property?
The next step is to determine the size of patio you ‘need’ and the size of patio that will ‘work’ with your home. The average patio in the UK is around the 3m2 mark, but one piece advice that any garden designer worth his salt will tell you, is that it’s better to have a patio that’s too large than too small.
One way you can figure the best size is to get the tables, chairs, BBQ, planters etc that you’d like up front before you build. Buy the garden furniture you want first and arrange it where your patio will be. Try the space out before you build, lay everything out, look at how your family walk around the space etc.
The size of the patio needs to be large enough to accommodate all the items you want on there, with enough space for people to easily walk around. We advise our customers to leave at least 75cm of free space around our garden tables for comfortable seating, as illustrated in the diagram below
You can keep the patio to a smaller size if you have the option of spilling onto a lawn when/if needed. For this reason, keep things open, all on one level, try and avoid completely enclosing the patio with walls or raised beds, it’ll make the space much more flexible.
What patio shape is best for your needs and your property?
After size comes shape. What shape will best work with your property? Does it need to wrap around a corner, or is a simple square/recatangle patio ideal? Will you need steps? Will the patio have different levels with steps (as shown in the picture below)?
You need decide what is important to you when it comes to shape. It can work with your home or you can opt for a design statement that further enhances the outside of your property. And don’t just think next to the house, a patio at the bottom of the garden can work just as well.
There are basically 3 types of patio, square/rectangle, round and anything else is basically categorised as an irregular shape. Square or rectangle patios are easily the most common shape in the UK, and this is the patio of choice for your national house builders. Whilst not the most creative of designs, it is definitely the most cost effective and practical. Ninety degree angles, straight lines, its simple and works with a modern home or formally styled outdoor space.
We’ve seen a big trend towards round patios in recent years, be it a full circular patio detached from the home (as shown in the photograph at the top of this post) or a semi-circle coming off a set of french doors. The key to making a full circle round patio work is often a focal point. Be it a round garden table set, fire pit or piece of garden art in the middle. Round patios merge into the surrounding landscape better, it merges into planting better than the sharp lines of a square patio. And one of the biggest trends we’ve seen recently, is to have two or even three separate circles of brickwork, linked by steps or a pathway.
Irregular shape is exactly as it says on the tin. Anything goes really, but they are generally characterised by sweeping curves, unpredictable lines, and mixture of differing shapes and sizes. The ability to create a more organic feel, makes them ideal for working with your property and your existing outdoor space. You can easily create visual interest by creating a shape that works its way around features such as trees for example.
What materials do you want to use for new patio?
When it comes to shape its a little easier to break the rules, but materials on the other-hand, this is where I think its best to be sympathetic to your home. So think about the style and colour of your home and the main building materials used. And if you’re planning on putting garden furniture on you’re patio, then please select a surface that is smooth enough to stop tables and chairs from wobbling. Just as a note of caution, if you do go for a rough stone, then it can chip the paintwork of the feet of tables and chairs.
Brick, concrete, flagstones and slate are the popular choices of patio materials in the UK, either on their own or in a combination pattern/design. Building a patio with modern pavers will provide you with virtually unlimited options in terms of shape, texture and colour. These popular materials basically fall into two wide ranging categories, natural and composite. Natural includes quarried stones such as slate and sandstone, while composite materials are things like bricks and concrete pavers that have been processed, moulded and fired/dried.
Budget is always important, but there are other factors you need to consider. For example, is it easy to lay if you’re going DIY? Will it provide a stable surface for both walking on and for amy furniture etc you want to put on it? Will it require much upkeep such as sealing and weeding in the future? Will it stain easily, fade in the sun? Will the material lend itself to the design/shape you have in mind? If you have children is it a material that’s not going to chip or crack when they get busy playing?
The list goes on. It is important you do your research, look at the pros and cons of the different materials to pick the right one for your patio! And on that note, that’s all for this post I’m afraid. Please check back next month where we’ll continue looking at the planning and design process of a new patio.