A new patio is exciting, but don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a permanent part of your landscaping – one that is interwoven with your daily life at home. Make an error in the dimensions or placement, and your outdoor living space will drive you crazy. While everyone would love a huge patio, for most of use, there are constraints of budget and area size to devote to this facet of your landscaping. Phoenix and Scottsdale homes built in the past few years will almost always have very limited area for a backyard where the family spends so much of the time at home, so be sure to cover your needs in the design stage.
1) Making Room for Everything
Now if you will have grass in some part of your new backyard landscaping, this can provide an overflow space that can double as an extension of the patio when the need arises. However, not everyone wants the added work that having a lawn in the desert presents, and while there is the option of synthetic grass, the lowest maintenance ground covers will be gravel and paving. It’s hard to enjoy lounging on gravel, and certainly difficult to walk on it too. So, instead of having a patio put in that is a big as the budget and space will allow, it makes more sense to plan out what goes where on this new surface long before the landscape crew arrives to begin construction.
2) Traffic Flow
Like moving into a new home, it seems so big until all the furniture is placed. A lot of people have a hard time envisioning just how big something is until they see it all in front of them. This isn’t the time for surprises. Not only does all the outdoor furniture have to fit – you need sufficient open area around and between things for walking. The size of a patio table isn’t all the area it will hog. You need to allow for the chairs to be pulled out far enough away for people to get in and out of the chairs, and at the same time provide enough space behind that for others to pass by without a problem. A good rule of thumb is 4 feet of clearance on all sides of the table itself, though if it sits on the outside corner you only need 2 feet or so on the sides along the edge of the pavers.
It’s also wise to plan how people move from the house to the various functions your patio will offer. Without walls to outline these different spaces like one has inside a building it can be deceptive unless you’ve had a lot of experience with spatial planning. Just like when shopping for new indoor furnishings, it’s wise to use a scaled plan on paper and movable pieces that represent the outdoor furniture and accessories that will occupy the space when the installation is complete.
3) Create A Focal Point
The attractiveness of any space, be it a room, a yard, or a wall, relies on a prominent feature. Some call it the ‘center of attention’, but in design it is called the focal point. Many times this is the largest object, as with a bed, which is hard to not notice since it takes up such a big part of the room. Out on the patio the biggest object will probably be the dining table or the outdoor fireplace, and for some homes it will be the swimming pool. This all depends greatly on both the size of the new patio space and it’s layout. Every yard and home are different, and some patios will have more than one focal point when the paving wraps a corner. Just make sure the focal point looks great from all angles it is viewed from.
4) Allow Room For Softeners
On a small patio the plants along the edge are usually enough greenery to soften the expanse of hardscaping and furniture, but on a larger one things are different. Don’t just assume you’ll add pots full of flowers, and other interesting things. These need daily care unless you fill them with cacti. Outdoor living and flower pots are synonymous with each other, but are you up to the constant watering needs they have? This is especially important in the heat of the desert summer. It might make more sense to have well placed in-ground planting beds to take advantage of the increased moisture holding and cooling properties. Yes, it’s hot there too, but not near as hot as inside a pot exposed to the sun on all sides. The other option is having drip irrigation lines put in where the pots will be placed. Again – this requires planning the details out well in advance of construction beginning.