by Katie Kroeker, Pacific Ridge Landscapes –
Patios are synonymous with summer days and languid evenings. They invite us to slow down, reconnect with others and to enjoy the moment. Have you ever wondered would it take to transform your own outdoor space into your new favourite destination? The next time you’re out on a patio, notice the particular details that appeal to you. Is it a particular style to which you’re drawn, is it a view, pretty flowers in containers, or maybe the ambiance and easy flow? Here are four tips for making the most of what you already have.
1. Set the stage. What are you looking at when you sit? Our eyes need a frame to peruse and a focal point to rest. This means that there should be some symmetry or balance to any plantings in your yard that guide your eye to the focal point. The focal point could be a tree, a piece of art, an obelisk or anything that you would like to highlight. It should be on a main axis (a sightline) either from where you are sitting or the doors out to your space.
2. Think groups. Plant larger multiples of a few types of plants and avoid planting one of anything/everything. Choose low maintenance shrubs and perennials so that you’re not staring at all the work that needs to be done while you’re trying to relax and entertain.
3. Consider your guest list. Will it be close friends and family for barbecues and s’mores? Or will it be larger groups of people milling around? The best design for your patio depends on your answer. Larger groups of people require more space for moving about, multiple seating spots for tête-à-têtes, smaller, more portable furniture and excellent lighting. Cocktail parties also work best when there is space for caterers to move around and place food trays, and when the patio material is smooth, even and high heel friendly. Friends and family entertaining lends itself to bigger pieces of comfy furniture and kid friendly design.
4. Light it up! Use low-voltage LED landscape lights to create the perfect ambiance for your space. This is one of the best things you can do in terms of bang for your buck! Well-lit paths and steps are best with young and older family members and you want multiple, defined spaces for entertaining larger groups. Good lighting will always encourage lingering and then see you safely back inside.
5. Personalize your space. As with anything, you can have a low-key and laid-back patio or the ritziest patio – it all comes down to personal taste and budget. To create a patio that feels like you, looks great and is functional, consider adding a couple of the following elements. Patio material: pavers, cut stone, flagstone are the usual contenders and are great low-maintenance choices. Fire: guaranteed to draw you outside and extend your time with friends and family. Get cozy and snuggle in for fireside conversations. Pergola: Structure defines space like nothing else. Pergolas, walls and arbours can shelter you from sun and wind (as well as neighbours should the need arise). Water: It’s been scientifically proven that water features help you unwind. The sights and sounds of moving water release endorphins allowing us to relax. Water features are also a great way to increase privacy as the muffle the conversations of you and your neighbours and soften nearby road noise.
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