40 ideas for patios

Get pictures and ideas for every taste, style, and budget

Colored stones, surrounded by pavers of stained concrete, create the illusion of a stream

Photo by Saxon Holt

Inspiring patio designs

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

Bistro patio

Norm Plate

Bistro patio

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

How to build a circular patio

Linda Lamb Peters

Lush slate 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

Outdoor kitchen

Norm Plate

Cozy, curvy patio

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

Covered patio

Thomas J. Story

Welcoming winter patio

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. 

One patio 3 looks

Earthly sophistication

"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 too."

More:  One patio, 3 looks 

Receipt rundown

Thomas J. Story

Affordable backyard Bali

Brooke Dietrich, owner of Green … Landscapes to Envy in Costa Mesa, CA looked to bargain sources to outfit her own patio. “Ikea and Pier 1 are my kind of stores,” she says.

More:  Design and affordable backyard Bali


Patchwork patio

Steven Gunther

Budget patchwork patio

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

Hearth patio

Thomas J. Story

Hearth patio

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

Three seasons, three uses

Thomas J. Story

Easy brick patio

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

The perfect room

Thomas J. Story

The perfect room

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

Outdoor Lounge

Thomas J. Story

Easy cabana

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


Backyard Quiz

Thomas J. Story

Colorful patio

Bright colors make this playful patio pop.

More:  Take our personality quiz and find the outdoor space for you 

Connecting inside to outside

Grey Crawford

Patio kitchen

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. 

Aluminum letters give this 8-foot-wide patio a contemporary flavor

Thomas J. Story

Recycled materials

Large and small aluminum letters, set between irregular chunks of black slate, gives this 8-foot-wide patio in Alameda, California, contemporary flavor.

Info: Shirley Alexandra Watts, Alameda, CA (510/521-5223)

Rectangular chunks of tumbled Connecticut bluestone form a dining patio

Rob D. Brodman

Cobbles and rock

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)

Sculpted seats

Thomas J. Story

Eichler-style patio

Expansive views of the patio bring the outside in.

More:  A 1950s Eichler home gets a seamless update


Thomas J. Story   

Mediterranean accent

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

Flagstone furnishings

Steven A. Gunther

Flagstone furnishings

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.

Dining Outdoors

Steven Gunther

Dramatic desert dining

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

Dream backyard

photo by Norm Plate

Courtyard shed

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

Desert terrace

Steve Gunther

Desert terrace

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)

Watching the garden grow

John Granen

Front row seats

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 

Vista point

Steven A. Gunther

Southwestern vista point

The arbor-shaded patio with banco seating invites guests to the garden’s far reaches.

More:  Southwestern garden escape

East of Eden landscape

Thomas J. Story

Rustic patio

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

Garden Awards Poolside seating

Steven Gunther

Poolside patio

Large glazed pots filled with succulents and other easy plants dress this patio.

Resources: Hoop chairs by Plain Air

More:  Dream gardens in the West

Front-yard family room

Gary Conaughton

Front-yard family room

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

Outdoor seating area

Thomas J. Story

Small seating area

A metal-framed daybed sits on a small patio next to the back deck. A young espaliered fig is displayed against the dark exterior wall (Licorice, item 517-7; Pittsburgh Paints).

More:  Amazing cottage makeover

Enchanted gardens: Mission magic

Steven Gunther

Mission magic

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 

Circular patio waterfall and moat

Thomas J. Story

Waterfall and moat

Suspended over a koi pond, a circular redwood deck in Gardnerville, NV, is both a viewing platform and shade structure for fish.

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)

Rear garden with sculptural table

Thomas J. Story

Art patio

In their rear garden, lined with olive trees, Jeff Reed and Jennifer Madden enjoy an alfresco meal at a sculptural table they created.

More:  See this artful house

Red-hot patio

Norm Plate

Red-hot patio

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

Easy path

Thomas J. Story

Patio entry

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



South-of-the-border style patio

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



Thomas J. Story

Outdoor sofa

The rammed-earth "couch" around the firepit appears to grow out of its setting.

More:  Ultimate Sierra retreat

small space garden

Rob D. Brodman

Small space patios

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


A slender pond

Norm Plate

Pond-side patio

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

Pondside retreat urban jem birdseye view

Tiny urban gem

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


Charles Mann

Barefoot patio

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



Super simple 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

Printed from: