Ideas for the perfect garden patio

Designing a garden patioWhat you decide to do with your new garden patio will depend on multiple factors, including personal taste, budget and what you want to use it for. It’s worth emphasising that there are as many different patio ideas as there are gardens – everyone’s is unique and the result of practical necessity and everyday creativity. With that in mind, let’s take a look of some of the things to consider when conceiving your own garden patio masterpiece.

What materials should you use for your garden patio?

As we’ve already mentioned, this comes down to money and personal preference, but rest assured there’s no reason why you can’t have an attractive and inviting patio on any budget. Some common materials include stone slabs, tiles, brick, concrete, pebbles, gravel and wooden decking.

The first thing to take into account is matching the patio materials with those in your home’s exterior. You want the patio to complement your house rather than clashing with it, so finding an appropriate aesthetic is paramount. For example, if you live in a rustic cottage, then natural-looking flagstone will match perfectly.

If you’re looking for something economical, then concrete could be the option for you. It’s relatively inexpensive and yet long-lasting and resistant to bad weather and mould. It might look a bit bland on its own, but with the aid of decorative touches like tiles, raised potted plants, wooden surrounds or attractive outdoor rugs, it can have a pleasingly minimalist appeal.

At the upper end of the price scale are marble or slate tiles. It will cost more, but the modern and stylish look it will bring to your patio is more than worth it if your budget can stretch that far.

Wooden decking is another trendy choice. New materials make it easier to maintain than in the past and it can lend a mellow, warm quality to your patio design. Coloured stains and contrasting furniture can add further character.

One idea definitely worth considering is mixing your materials, rather than using the same one throughout. Combining stone, tiles and pebbles or wood and concrete creates depth and variety in a patio design. If your garden is on the larger side, it will allow you to construct distinctive zones within the space to stop your patio from feeling monotonous. If you have a smaller space to play with, then mixed materials can make it feel larger and more expansive.

Design your garden patioWhat are some extra features you might add to your new garden patio?

Who says that a patio has to be square? You could set your patio apart by choosing a less common shape, such as a circular patio with a firepit, large barbecue or a dining table as a centrepiece. Get creative!

Fire pits are an increasingly fashionable addition to any garden patio. They are stylish and eye-catching, but also serve the practical function of keeping you and your guests warm in the colder months of the year. You can have a built-in fire pit that’s a permanent fixture of your patio – perhaps surrounded by seating – or opt for a portable pit instead, which you can move to make way for other furniture depending on the occasion and need.

Given the realities of English weather, it might be a sensible idea to build some shelter and shading into your patio design, such as a gazebo, pergola, awning, canopy or garden umbrella. During summer heatwaves, this will keep your guests cool – and when the rain inevitably arrives, it will keep them dry, too! You can up the comfort factor further by installing outdoor heating or log burners. Ambient lighting will bring texture and atmosphere to your patio, lifting the gloom of winter evenings and adding extra magic during summer ones.

Ideas for your garden patioHow to design your patio if you have a small garden

If your available space is limited, don’t fret – there are plenty of ingenious ideas to help you get the most out of your modest means.

You might want to start by using gravel instead of stone or wood. It’s more versatile since it can be laid in even the smallest of spaces, but the variety of types available means that there’s no reason to forgo stylishness.

You should also start to think vertically, as well as horizontally. In a small garden, you can build a raised patio on two or more levels to maximise the use of the available space. Use patio steps to create this tiered effect and to make room for features like additional seating or a barbecue or fire pit.

Alternatively, you can run floor tiles out from your interior to your exterior through a set of adjoining doors, if this is possible in your house or flat’s setup. Combining a small outdoor and an indoor space in this way is a simple but brilliant method of giving the illusion of greater scale.

Buying a swing chair rather than a complete set of large furniture is another smart workaround. They’re just as inviting and attractive, but they use up much less room. Pick out some multifunctional furniture as well, like a fire pit that can double as a coffee table, or stools and benches with concealed spaces. Multi-purpose furniture means that your smaller patio can still have the capacity to act as an entertainment zone without the need for metres and metres of extra space.

Finally, remember that great lighting can make all the difference to a small garden patio. If you install fancy, high-end-looking floor and wall lights – or the more budget-friendly option of fairy lights – then there’s no reason that your dazzling patio can’t hold its own with one that’s twice the size.

Why you might want to get help from a professional

If you’re still undecided or would just like some more pointers, it’s worth getting in touch with an Guild of Master Craftsmen accredited landscaper or patio installer to discuss what’s available and get their advice. Go to to find one local to you. Whatever you decide, have fun creating a patio design that reflects your taste and personality and shows off your garden at its best.

You can find some more ideas for designing a garden patio in a limited space here: