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How to Design a Patio - 4 Guiding Principles

Updated on September 15, 2017

For the do-it-yourself patio designer and builder, knowing the basic design principles will go a long way in ensuring successful implementation of patio designs.

Guiding Design Principles

  1. Unity
  2. Variety
  3. Balance
  4. Proportion

Following this simple guide during the planning stage will go a long way towards achieving a great patio design that is flexible, efficient, and one that possesses unique character.

1. Unity In Patio Design Concept

The patio design must ensure everything works well together. The patio flooring, the overheads, and the screens must compliment each other. The patio furniture should suit the patio's architectural style and features. Likewise the plants. Patio plants must be in harmony with themselves and the other plants in the garden.

There must also be a form of unity between the main house and the patio's features, and this is important to note. For example, if the patio is set off from a dining room with a casual feel, the same feeling should continue through to the patio,

2. Variety, and Element of Surprise

To ensure there is a form of unity in the patio's design concept doesn't mean there shouldn't be an aspect of variety. Without variety, unity will become monotonous and bland.

For example, a path can lead from the main patio to another one that is smaller, cozier and more intimate. A subtle wall fountain can be installed to give the illusion of a wider dimension to a small patio. Or, different deck levels can be created to arouse visual interest.

Variety can also be used to generate interest on vertical surfaces. Patios can be set at different levels, flower beds can be raised and decorative privacy screens can be installed to draw the eyes away from any bland horizontal expanse of space.

3. Balance in Design Concept

In patio design, a balance is applied when elements placed in its space are artfully combined to produce a similar 'visual weight' on both sides of a central piece.

A good example is balancing a mature tree on one side of the patio with perimeter lined patio benches on the other side, or in the case of small patios, balancing a garden pool on one side with accented plants and patio furniture on the other.

4. Proportionate with Surrounding Structures

Good proportion demands that the patio must be in scale with the house and garden.Because patios are outdoor leisure rooms and not interior rooms, there will be a difference in scale.

Outdoor furniture takes up more space than indoor furniture and coupled with the fact that ample space must be allowed for other design features such as containers of plants, barbecue equipment, etc., there should be added space for the range of activities that will be required of the patio.

To maintain proportion in say, a small patio, it's good to keep its design simple and clutter free. Having clean lines will make the design elements appear larger. Use moderately sized patio furniture such as the built-in variety, to avoid a cluttered crowded feeling.

Also use plants with restraint, because some plants like the poplar tree may look just right and suit the size of the patio now, but they will become too tall and overbearing for the patio within a few years.

So for those of you who want to create their patio designs themselves and personally work on its construction, it’s good to remember these guiding principles.

Understanding and enforcing them will help create an effective, efficient and aesthetically pleasing patio design that will work successfully and look beautiful.

© 2011 viryabo


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    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Oh, i'm so honoured Simone, thanks, and thank you for the visit. I appreciate your comments.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm with Gypsy Writer - well done!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Thank you Gyspy Writer, and thanks for visiting.

    • Gyspy Writer profile image

      Gyspy Writer 6 years ago from Midwest

      This is an excellent well-written article.