A patio is a transition space between the house and the yard. Depending on your preference, your patio design can run the gamut from an elegant open-air greenhouse to an outdoor living room. Regardless, a patio expands the living space of the house and creates a focal point out the window. By adding a personal touch to the overall property, your patio design affects the emotional and physical space by changing the view and showing your personal aesthetic.
Patios belong to the subset of landscape design called hardscapes—the non-plant material of your landscape design—that play a critical part of any garden landscape project. In general, when hardscapes are combined with green, growing plants, they create an outdoor living environment that invites you, your family and friends to come in, to sit and enjoy, to meander or explore. In this way, a patio is an extension of the home that is both functional and appealing to the senses.
Patio Design: The Beginning
These outdoor spaces come in many forms. The most common here in Houston is a concrete pad that is attached to the house. Things to consider while planning your patio design:
- The existing view from your patio.
- The weather.
- Where the sun hits at different times of the year.
- A focal point. The focal point will draw the eye to it and will be the highlight of your patio. If you have an odd spot in the layout and want to disguise it, a focal point such as a water feature or flower beds is an artful camouflage.
Popular structures on patios include arbors, loggias and pergolas, most often used to create a decorative entrance, frame a focal point or provide shelter from the elements. These architectural elements are attractive ways to make a strong statement and highlight a sense of something happening outside.
Patio Design: Hard Surfaces
For the flooring of your patio, there are many different types of materials. They include:
- Concrete. A popular choice, concrete is durable, inexpensive and can be poured into a site-specific shape. It can be colored, stained or textured to create long-lasting beauty.
- Pavers. A man-made brick that recalls old world charm, pavers can be installed to create intricate patterns, including cobblestone. Laid on sand or a concrete base, usually without mortared joints, they are environmentally friendly.
- Stone. Types of stone used in hardscape construction include cut limestone, sandstone, quartzite and slate. These materials are available in cut pieces, like squares, rectangles or irregular pieces.
- Cast stone. A masonry product that adds ornamental or functional features to buildings and other structures, cast stone gives the appearance of natural stones such as limestone, granite, slate, travertine or marble.
Patio Design: Other Elements
Garden pathways connect the patio to the rest of the landscape, thus finishing off the patio design. Paths direct the eye and create interest across the green expanse of a yard. They can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the material used.
An important component of any hardscape project, a landscape drainage system should be taken seriously—especially with Houston’s infamous torrential downpours. It makes the difference between having usable hard surfaces or dealing with seasonal small lakes and swamps. A skillful landscape designer or landscape architect can design patio drains in a way so that they are invisible or, at the very least, discrete. Drainage contractors can help as well.
Landscape lighting can bring your patio to life. It really ratchets up the impact of the space and turns your entire landscape into a 24-hour-a-day delight. Landscape lighting also serves as a security measure.
In selecting attributes and elements, remember to choose designs that complement the architecture of your house. You also want the designs to be reflective of your personality, so you can have maximum enjoyment of this personal and private space.
Exterior Worlds has been providing high-end landscape design and services, including patio design, since 1987 for homes in the Houston area, including West University, Tanglewood, River Oaks and Memorial.