Choosing a Location for Your Patio
Start with a look at your house and the contours of the yard. The shape of your house and the floor plan may suggest -- or even dictate -- a shape and location for your patio. There also may be areas of your yard that are largely unused, prime locations for detached patios.
Front-yard patios can extend the driveway or open up the area near the entrance to your home. Patios on the side of the house turn normally wasted space into prime real estate. And, of course, in any area, a patio makes an excellent companion for flower beds and plantings. Patio designs generally fall into one of the categories shown on these pages.
Attached patio: Locate the patio next to the house with direct access to the interior, usually the kitchen or family room. U-shape or L-shape houses offer ready-made opportunities for maintaining privacy, but that doesn't mean the contour of the patio has to be rectangular. Round off the corners, create flowing patterns with paving, and add shrubs to soften hard edges.
Detached patio: You can move the patio away from the house to take advantage of changing shade patterns cast by mature trees. Even though it's situated away from the house, a detached patio should in some way conform to the style of the house. Separation from the house allows you to create distinctive surface patterns that may harmonize or contrast with the house. Connect the patio to the house with a path or walkway that complements your overall landscape.
Courtyard patio: A courtyard is a great style for townhouses or any home with a small lot. If your home doesn't offer suitable walls on all sides, you can fashion them with fencing or tall hedges. Garden beds or planter boxes will turn such a spot into a private oasis. Or you can bring greenery and flowers into the space with potted plants or small trees. Install trellises and let vines climb the walls. You can even add the splash of falling water with a small recirculating fountain or an ornamental wall fountain, available in most garden centers. Avoid busy paving patterns and ornate furniture in a small courtyard -- they could overwhelm the space.
Wraparound patio: A wraparound patio is ideal when you want access from several rooms. The style easily accommodates multiple uses such as (shown here) a quiet retreat outside the master bedroom, family dining off the kitchen, and space for entertaining off the family room. Curved corners, garden beds, planter boxes, and low walls separate each area and give each space a distinct character. If the size of the patio you want to build won't quite fit the open areas of your yard, this style is for you.Building codes
Building codes, zoning ordinances, deed restrictions, and easements are important considerations in determining how and where you can build your patio.
Building codes: Building codes ensure the safety of construction. Some codes treat patios as permanent structures, with regulations for footing depths and materials. Check with your building department before you build, and submit your plans for approval.
Zoning ordinances: These rules govern property use and structure placement. They may establish setbacks from property lines and the maximum size of your patio. Some cities limit patio surfaces because large areas of hardscape interfere with the natural flow of runoff.
Deed restrictions: Some communities implement deed restrictions to control architectural style. You may find restraints on the style of patio you can build and the materials you can use.
Easements and rights-of-way: There may be restrictions that limit building under or near overhead lines, and you might not be able to build a patio over underground utilities. A sand-set patio, which can be removed for access to utilities below, may be allowed. Call your utility companies and ask them to mark the lines through your property. Most will do so for free.Help with design
Ask questions. Many home centers have professional designers who can give you design advice.