Creating the perfect patio

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Whether you’re laying the patio yourself or hiring a tradesperson, these are the design basics:

  • Get the proportions right by sketching on graph paper first. Unless the space is a tiny paved courtyard, the patio shouldn’t swamp the garden, so find a balance between the paved surface and other materials, such as decking and grass.
  • Experiment with shape during planning. A square patio will suit a contemporary garden, but if yours is country-style, consider a circular or hexagonal patio, which will allow planting space around the edges.
  • How big is your dining set and will it fit comfortably? Bear in mind that you should leave at least one metre around the table to allow for chairs to be pushed in and out.
  • Consider the edges of your patio. In a country garden, borders packed with planting can spill on to the patio, softening the hard landscaping. In a modern space, choose angular raised beds in the same stone as the patio’s edge for a crisp finish.
  • Include lighting – either around the edges of the patio, set into the stone or even within a water feature. Atmospheric low lighting combined with practical wall lighting is a must, as most outdoor dining is in the evening. If you don’t have the budget for wiring in mains lighting, invest in solar lights, although the light isn’t as strong.

In the gallery: Create a sheltered space with a pergola in a site that needs protection from the wind and sun, as in this space by Garden House Design. Choose light materials and furniture to make the space feel as big as possible.