Patio Design: Size and Shape

Bring your interiors outdoors, with these tips on creating a functional patio layout.


By: Peter Walsh

If you plan to entertain a large crowd then you'll need a patio that is big enough to hold a dining table and at least four chairs, a place for the grill and some comfortable seating in an area away from the table.

Figure out how you plan to use it and be realistic. For example, you may want a fully equipped outdoor kitchen but if you don't like to cook then why add it to the patio or make room for it? If you want to make room for a hot tub, be sure you enjoy using a hot tub and will do the maintenance that a hot tub requires before increasing the size of the patio to include one.

To help determine the size you need, use cutouts of furniture to scale and placing them on graph paper in the configuration where you want them on your patio. Then you'll know if it all fits and how big your patio should be. "Cutting out shapes is a great way to arrange the components," says Monica. She suggests allowing about two feet of space per person around a dining table to determine how big of a table you will need. Start with the number of members in your family and include room for guests.

The Shape of Your Patio

The shape of your patio might determine where you put it. If you have existing trees near your house that you want to keep, you could build your patio around them.

Any nearby natural boulders can be incorporated into the design for a natural look. A rectangle shape made of cut flagstone, brick or paving stones will lend a formal, symmetrical look to your home while a curvaceous circular shape will give it a more casual feel. "Overlap several rectangles or squares, or incorporate angles or overlapping circles in your design," says Joanne Kostecky, APLD, president of Garden Design, Inc.

Gather ideas from magazines, books and websites for inspiration so you're armed with ideas to present a landscape designer or architect.

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