Planning: Choosing a Site and Style

Patio with Furniture in Foreground

Patios, walls, walks, and other masonry features are increasingly part of home landscaping. That's no wonder. Masonry imparts a solidity and permanence unmatched by other materials. But longevity isn't all that matters in a landscape. Masonry structures improve the usability and comfort level of your yard at the same time they make it look better.

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A patio, for example, can expand your home's living space, providing a place for activities you might not otherwise have room to enjoy. This makes your home more comfortable and more valuable.

A patio is more than a backyard island. While it should remain separate from external boundaries such as property lines, it must harmonize with the rest of the landscape and the architecture of your house. That's where walls come in.

Masonry walls mark boundaries, add privacy, reduce the harsh glare of sunlight, and deflect strong winds. They also organize your landscape by subtly designating where one space begins and another ends.

Consider paths and walkways too. At a minimum, they provide strictly utilitarian access to different parts of the property. They also encourage exploration of the landscape, guiding you and guests to places in the yard where flowers bloom, vegetables grow, children play, or special features open to pleasant surprises.

Patios, walls, and walks are best conceived not as individual structures, but as parts of a unified design.

Historically patios were bare, ground-level concrete slabs. What distinguishes the modern patio from its earlier form is that it's much more than a platform now. It's an expression of the homeowner's lifestyle and an important part of the landscape where it stands. Today's patio has a personality as well as a purpose.

All landscape planning starts with one question: How will you use your outdoor space? Once you have answered this question, decisions about what you should build, where the structures should go, how large they'll be, and how they should look quickly fall into place.


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