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Creating a Patio Design

by Allison E. Beatty
Repair-home Columnist

If you're tired of staring at a large sea of grass in the backyard, it's time to get serious about adding a patio to your landscaping plan. While you may want to hire a contractor to install it, you can get started with the design yourself.

Start by taking out some graph paper and a pencil. Then measure your yard, noting the location of large trees, swing sets or other "permanent" objects. Select a scale for the drawing and use the graph paper as a guide for drawing your yard.

Patio Location and Size Are Important

When selecting a place for your patio, think about convenience and sun patterns. You want a location that is close to the kitchen, if possible. Look for an area that will not be disturbed by future home improvement projects, such as an addition.

Depending on your sun tolerance, you'll want a location that gets the appropriate amount of sun or shade. This will impact your comfort when sitting on the patio and the type of landscaping material you can place around the patio.

As you sketch your yard on paper, think about the size and shape you want. Landscaping contractors often start with a 350 to 400 square foot area and add some curves to add interest. Try following the natural lines of your house or other landscaping objects, such as a retaining wall or pond.

Then round out the drawing with some curved flowerbeds or an adjacent play area for the kids. As you add elements to your design, the whole yard will start fitting together. Also consider whether you want:

  • A tall shade tree near the patio.
  • A fountain or pond nearby.
  • A sitting wall.
  • A fireplace or firepit.


Involving a Landscaping Contractor

As you draw your patio design, contact a few landscaping contractors. They can give you advice on the size and configuration of the patio, as well as what landscaping materials would work well around it.

A landscaping contractor also can help you decide which patio material to use, given your site conditions and budget.

Designing your own patio can be an exciting home improvement project. Take the time to think about how you will use the space and what your planting needs are. Then, let your imagination run wild.

About The Author
Allison E. Beatty is an avid old house enthusiast who has been renovating houses and writing about them for more than 10 years. She contributes regularly to national newspaper, magazines and web sites.