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Ready to bring your outdoor space to life? Whether you’re adding a pinch of pizazz to a tired-looking back garden or starting afresh, you don’t need a huge budget to create a patio that gets your neighbours talking.
Materials are typically inexpensive and, believe it or not, you don’t always need to bring in a landscaper to achieve incredible results. So, get started by exploring some inspiring ideas for simple patio designs and create a unique outdoor space you’re proud to call home.
Switch up your patio’s shape
Let’s be honest, when you think of a patio, you think of a rectangle. A set of slabs laid in rigid lines to form a straight-sided surface—boring. But it’s easy to break free from the box with a few sneaky tricks.
Why not create a curved edge that sings in harmony with your luscious lawn or plant borders? Alternatively, you could lay hexagonal shapes in a honeycomb pattern for an uber-contemporary feel, or use odd-shaped stones to add out-of-the-ordinary details. Better still, mix it up with a blend of curves, patterns, and textures.
Most local garden centres sell paving in various sizes and shapes, so see what you find. Once you’re measured up, you’re free to mix and match, resulting in a less predictable patio.
Another modern option might involve laying square slabs in a diagonal pattern. This creates an elegant geometric shape with a nice twist on traditional patio layouts. You could even lay alternating stones in contrasting colours, resulting in a stylish chessboard effect.
Need to cut paving stones or slabs to a specific shape? You can find lots of affordable masonry cutting equipment on Amazon.
Create a horticultural hideaway
If you’re all about “me time”, treat your patio as a retreat by creating a hideaway. Think meditating, reading, listening to music, or perhaps just sneaking off for some time away from the kids.
You could add privacy by doubling up your boundary planting with something like a row of pleached hornbeam for luscious screening. Honeysuckle or climbing roses would also work well as a fragrant shelter piece. You could even divide the area with an arbor or arch, indicating a separate garden room for a discrete feel.
Add a focal feature
Think of your patio as a room that happens to be outdoors, and you’ll understand why it needs a focal point. Indoors that can be a fireplace or the TV, but there’s scope to be more imaginative in the garden. For example, if there’s a garden wall on one side, turn it into a living wall by encouraging small plants to grow in the joints or positioning a trellis for climbers.
Alternatively, paint the wall with a textured finish or a colour that complements the surroundings (buy an air compressor to make light work of painting walls and fences). Outdoor furnishings, such as showpiece clocks, barometers, sundials and statues, help to create character.
A patio need never be just a flat expanse of paving. With the help of some digging equipment, you can create a multi-level patio to create different zones for multiple purposes — a raised dining area or BBQ ‘stage’, for example.
A raised flowerbed on or alongside your patio is another excellent way to create a sense of depth. Other suggestions for taking the eye upwards include adding a simple timber pergola. Roof it with rattan or fabric to create shade and shelter. Making the most of your verticals is especially recommended to make a small patio feel more spacious.
Blur the edges
If you are limited to a rectangular patio, a simple way to soften those hard edges is simply to let your garden plants and shrubs flow over the sides of the paving. Positioning pots and planters is another way to achieve the same informal feel, introducing splashes of colour.
Make light work
Lights that twinkle in the twilight on long summer evenings are an essential and inexpensive addition to every patio. There’s such a vast choice of options nowadays; your biggest problem may be settling on one!
Hang fairy lights from your shrubs and trees or drape them over hanging baskets. Solar-powered lights are an option that ticks a lot of boxes as well — there’s no need for any wiring, and you’re doing your bit to protect the planet. One of our favourites is this pack of multi-coloured fairy lights from Amazon.
Repurpose and recycle
If you’re aiming to stretch a small budget, reusing materials from elsewhere is a satisfying solution. Bricks or stones salvaged from a demolition site or leftover from a building project can be used to pave your patio (if you have a lot) or create an inset feature (if you only have a few).
You could even repurpose wooden pallets or crates as seats and tables. The seasoned and weathered wood complements carefully chosen cushions and fabrics to create a wonderful organic effect. Why not carefully dismantle the pallets and use the timber to build a decking area?