The planning patio – A patio needs to be more spacious than an indoor living room; it isn’t just that we like the idea of ‘the great outdoors’, we do need more room outside. We walk with longer strides, our gestures are larger and we tend to sprawl in deckchairs. Six people can dine in reasonable comfort in a room measuring 3 x 3.5 m, but a patio of that size would seem crowded with only four people sitting around the table.
As a rule of thumb, whatever shape your patio may be – you’re not confined to rectangles – its smallest dimension should not be less than 3 m, allowing for encroachment on the space by foliage.
Finding the best spot for the patio
Ideally, the patio should be sheltered from the wind, shaded from the hot summer sun, yet positioned so it can catch the fall and spring sunshine, and big enough to be useful, not merely a path-like strip of paving beneath the living room windows.
The south side of the house isn’t the only spot; you can make a comfortable patio on the east, west and north sides, too. It’s more important that it relates comfortably to your living rooms, maybe to the kitchen as well. You will be taking guests there, and it would be nice not to have to lead them out through the utility room or garage.
If the design of the house allows, it is always pleasant to be able to step straight out on to the patio through wide doors, so that it becomes physically an extension of the living room (or the family room, or the dining room). In this way, you break down the distinction between indoors and out. You may prefer to set your patio further out into the garden, perhaps to catch the sun or to take advantage of a fine view – or maybe just so that you can get away from the house and among the trees and greenery. The shape of the land may suggest a spot, too.
Carry out a ‘trial run’
As you make your plans for a patio, take a chair outside and sit for a while in various spots to try out your ideas. You’ll soon know if you’ve chosen a good location, and what you’ll have to add in the way of planting, shade or whatever to make it perfect. There are no rules – the right spot is where you feel most comfortable.