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Ten Patio Questions

By: John Degroot
March 25 2017

Ten questions you should ask before building a patio

Garden clippings for March 25, 2017

1.  What views do I have from the house?  We might claim to be outdoor people, but research shows that we spend an average of 94% of our time indoors.  Okay, I just made that up, but take a moment to consider what the patio, barbeque and furniture may look like from the kitchen and dining room windows.

2.  What views will I have from the new patio?  Put a chair down on the proposed location of your patio to make sure you take advantage of good views and hide unsightly views.  Consider how much privacy you want to achieve before choosing the patio location.

3.  Am I a sun or shade lover?  Most of us find summer sun too intense and would rather sit in the shade.  Planting a shade tree is the obvious solution but if you need instant shade, consider putting up an arbour or awning. 

4.  Should I have one or two patios?  I am a fan of multiple seating areas, giving options depending on the circumstances.  If you have the space, consider a larger patio for sun, convenience or entertaining and a second patio for the kids, personal space or shade. 

5.  Does size matter?  You bet it does.  If you live on your own and rarely have company, a patio of 100 square feet might be large enough.  I usually recommend a minimum of 200 square feet. 

6.  How high should I go?    The closer you build your patio to the back door, the more it will seem like an extension of your home.  In our backyard the sliding patio door is about 2 feet above grade.  We have a raised cedar deck overlooking a larger brick patio at ground level. 

7.  What is my orientation?  A south facing patio will give sun all day long until the end of the day.  A patio on the east side of the house will be in the sun all morning.  Seating areas on the west side of the house will give you more wind and afternoon sun.  If the patio is on the north side, the house will provide some shade until the end of the day.  Keep in mind that July’s sun drops slightly north of west.

8.  What shape do I want?  A square or rectangular patio is easy to install but may lack interest.  Adding curves or angles will give creativity without adding cost.

9.  What material should I use?  A plain concrete pad will often be the material of choice because of price and durability.   Patterned, coloured or exposed aggregate concrete will add interest and cost to the project.  A wooden deck made of pressure treated lumber is a little more costly but might be a good option particularly for the do-it-yourself handyperson.  Opting for cedar, vinyl or a composite material will add years of life to the project.  Interlocking brick is available in a myriad of styles, colours, textures and prices.  I often recommend using a combination of materials.

10.  Should I cover the patio?  Many new homes are now designed and built with a covered backyard porch, providing shade and protection from rain. 

11.  Should I add anything else?  Before building your patio, give consideration to adding a fire pit, outdoor kitchen, walkway to the shed, water feature, lighting, bench or retaining wall.

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