Get pictures and ideas for every taste, style, and budget
A patio of squares and rounds
Colored stones, surrounded by pavers of stained concrete, create the illusion of a stream bubbling through the center of this 12-foot patio in Berkeley.
Design: Keeyla Meadows, Keeyla Meadows Gardens & Art, Albany, CA (510/559-1026)
More: How to plant a living wall
A free-form hardscape, shade sail, airy plants, a circular firepit make this Tucson, Arizona garden the ideal place for entertaining.
See more of this patio
Surround a small slate patio with lush plantings for a versatile backyard retreat space. This one is 8 feet in diameter.
Get the how-to and planting plan
Warm fires make the courtyard an ideal winter hangout. To save space, the pizza oven is stacked over the fireplace.
More: See how great shapes and native plants create a haven for all seasons
Open to the garden on two sides, this patio in Woodland Hills, California, has all the comforts of an indoor room. Owners
Marla and Chuck O'Connell use it all year. "We gather friends and surfing buddies for wine and good conversation," Chuck says.
Adds Marla, "We're outdoor people, living our fantasy."
A fireplace is the patio's focal point. The prefab box is framed in wood and capped with stone veneer.
"I like clean lines balanced by earth-toned materials and organic shapes," says landscape designer Jared Vermeil. The father
of a toddler, Vermeil loves creating contemporary yet family-friendly gardens. As he says, "Modern can feel warm and comfortable
More: One patio, 3 looks
An outdoor "area rug" of stained concrete pavers replaced a tired lawn in the back of our 1930s bungalow in Santa Monica.
More: Get our project tips and design plans
The area rug in this outdoor living room is actually brick inlay. Farm touches like the Dutch door in the kitchen make this
a cozy space.
More: Southwest Idea House
This patio measures only 7 feet across. And, with the right tools, you can easily build it in a weekend.
Think of the possible uses for this circle of bricks. You can tuck it into a perennial border. Or place it in a remote corner of your garden, where you can linger at day's end over a glass of wine, or on Sunday morning with your coffee and magazines.
More: See how to build it in a weekend
Add a mirror for the illusion of space. This one gives the patio a living room look, yet it stands up to sun and rain.
More: How to move your indoors outside
With our checklist of tools and materials, some PVC pipe, and a little elbow grease, you can transform your outdoor space
into an instant retreat ― all for about $300. This backyard lounge serves as both a casual spot for year-round entertaining
and a private refuge with resort style.
More: Step-by-step DIY cabana
Bright colors make this playful patio pop.
More: Take our personality quiz and find the outdoor space for you
Architect Colin Sarjeant opened up this house and connected it to a new outdoor dining space carved out of the front yard. It's where everyone wants to go.
Large and small aluminum letters, set between irregular chunks of black slate, gives this 8-foot-wide patio in Alameda, California,
Info: Shirley Alexandra Watts, Alameda, CA (510/521-5223)
Rectangular chunks of tumbled Connecticut bluestone, set on a bed of decomposed granite and sand, form a 12-foot-diameter
dining patio in a wooded Berkeley backyard.
Info: Vanessa Kuemmerle, Vee Horticulture, Berkeley, CA (510/653-7667); BlueJay Feldman, Blue Ridge Landscape Co., Orinda, CA (925/258-9233)
Expansive views of the patio bring the outside in.
More: A 1950s Eichler home gets a seamless update
A cast limestone fountain with an antique finish adds a Mediterranean-inspired accent to this narrow front patio in Sacramento,
Calif. The wall blocks the sight and sound of street traffic nearby.
More: A narrow front patio becomes a handsome dining area
This custom-built dining table is right at home in this Southwestern courtyard.
The table is made from the same flagstone as the slender serving counter tucked against the wall.
For this project, landscape architect Steve Martino tried something new ― aluminum flashing.
He wove it through rebar uprights like a ribbon, creating a glamorous shimmering privacy wall near the outdoor dining area.
More: See the rest of this dramatic desert garden
A shed in the right spot can help define an outdoor dining area or patio, as it did for this DIY backyard makeover.
This cedar garden shed in Seattle, Washington, keeps tools and garden machinery safe, dry, and out of the garage and basement.
"Before the shed, we had to bring the mower up out of the basement every time we cut the grass," says owner Leanne Rubin.
See the before and after
A circular patio of tinted concrete aggregate is edged with rose flagstone. The naturalistic spa backing, tough plantings,
and the paving’s rosy tones visually connect the patio to the surrounding desert.
Info: Mary Rose Duffield, Duffield Ratliff Landscape Design, Tucson, AZ (520/577-1241); Rosalee Gage, formerly of Santa Rita Landscaping, Tucson, AZ (520/623-0421)
This small patio works, thanks to the dappled light and the partial sense of enclosure and privacy created by the greenhouse
and foliage. The casual comfort of the two chairs seems to invite relaxation and intimate conversation.
More: How to plan a garden patio
The arbor-shaded patio with banco seating invites guests to the garden’s far reaches.
More: Southwestern garden escape
This open-air dining room features reclaimed redwood siding salvaged from an abandoned water tower that once served a local
stage coach station.
More: Fabulous barn style by Monterey Bay
After a remodel this patio space began functioning as an outdoor magnet easily accessible from both wings and the street drawing
the homeowners and guests to the new fireplace and the view.
More: Front-yard family room
The earthy oranges and Pacific blue tones of the San Jose tile plaque on the wall are repeated in paint, table surface, and
flower colors. The painting by Nancy Kintisch was waterproofed for outdoors.
More: See the rest of this magical garden
Suspended over a koi pond, a circular redwood deck in Gardnerville, NV, is both a viewing platform and shade structure for
The nine piers of steel-reinforced concrete that support it were poured in place as an integral part of the pond bottom, as were the steps that appear to float across the water’s surface. Both the steps and piers were finished below the waterline with rough-textured black plaster.
Info: James Rowley, Naturally Beautiful Gardens, Minden, NV (775/267-5234)
In their rear garden, lined with olive trees, Jeff Reed and Jennifer Madden enjoy an alfresco meal at a sculptural table they
More: See this artful house
Melodie Lewis loves color. When she renovated her Paradise Valley, Arizona, garden with the help of landscape architect Christy
Ten Eyck, vivid hues were an integral part of the design, particularly for an intimate patio near the home's entry.
More: See how an intimate patio acquires vivid hues
Decorative and functional, a dry-laid flagstone and mulch path leads the way to a patio retreat.
A border of ferns and red-flowered Cuphea ignea creates a leafy entry.
In the back planter, a tall mallow hedge screens a vegetable garden.
More: Five great strategies for your own garden makeover
Willow chairs invite lounging on this large front porch, which doubles as a gallery for a festive collection of Mexican artifacts.
More: South-of-the-border style inspires a California garden
The rammed-earth "couch" around the firepit appears to grow out of its setting.
More: Ultimate Sierra retreat
Small lots don't easily accommodate separate outdoor living areas. But Dean Shibuya and Jeffrey Molloy's 600-square-foot San
Francisco backyard uses every square inch to contain several garden rooms comfortably.
More: Small garden secrets
Alongside this Seattle patio, a 2 ½-ft.-wide planter was converted into a pond by sealing the interior with concrete.
More: A slender pond
Dry-laid flagstones, tightly spaced, cover the upper patio as well as the main walkway leading to it, while an arc-shaped
path of natural steppingstones connects the upper patio to a smaller one that is nearer the house and overlooks a pond.
More: Create your own pondside retreat
Planting a conventional turfgrass lawn is not a water-wise solution in the arid West. Nor is paving a big area always practical,
since that much hardscape creates a lot of heat and glare, says Nate Downey of Santa Fe Permaculture.
But if you lace paving stones with ribbons of native buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), you'll achieve an eye-calming "soft patio" effect, as Downey calls it, that needs much less water than a traditional bluegrass or fescue lawn.
More: Barefoot patio
For a perfect patio, all you need is about $200, some lemonade, and the seven elements pictured here.
More: Seven essential elements for an outdoor retreat