Outside space has always been important and certainly adds value to your home. That space has never been more prized than since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During lockdown, millions of households discovered or rediscovered the joy of relaxing on their patios and eating al fresco.
But many garden patios are only used in the summer months which is a great shame.
There’s much to enjoy outdoors throughout the year and it is possible to create a space that you can use at any time, even in the winter.
Here’s how to give yourself a special patio. One from which to admire the stars and watch the winter wildlife or somewhere to socialise on sunny autumn days.
Protection from the elements
There’s no getting away from it, the weather in the UK is varied and unpredictable. Sometimes it just won’t cooperate with your plans. It really helps if your patio area features at least some protection from the rain.
This can be achieved in a number of ways. If your patio is adjacent to your property, you could mount a retractable awning on the wall of your house. Patio awnings are relatively inexpensive, quick fixes. The more costly models are powered so you can open or retract the canopy at the touch of a button. Alternatively, consider a lean-to Gazebo if you are seeking more modern garden patio ideas.
If your garden patio is located at a distance from your house or is too large to be shielded by a canopy, look at free-standing gazebos. These can be fashioned from wood or metal and the metal styles may have retractable roofs. Some models feature curtains or screens that enable you to fully enclose your seating area during inclement weather.
Patio heating ideas
Nobody wants to sit outside shivering in the cold! Stargazing or birdwatching isn’t nearly so enjoyable when you are suffering from frost bite!
Happily, there are many and diverse heating options for your patio and you don’t need to spend the earth to keep warm.
Electric patio heaters are excellent choices as they radiate heat well and can be moved around to suit your needs. A variety of styles are available including floor-standing towers, tabletop models and wall-mounted heaters. Do bear in mind that electric heaters will impact your energy bills and you will need somewhere to store them when they are not in use.
If your patio doesn’t feature a power source, a gas heater could be the perfect solution. But you will need to invest in gas canisters, and you will require a cover for your heater or somewhere to store it.
Firepits are also options but are not suitable for covered areas due to the smoke they produce. They can also prove problematic in windy conditions as smoke could be blown into your seating area. However, there is something special about the ambiance they create.
Patio lighting ideas
Lighting may not be an issue during the summer months thanks to the long daylight hours. However, when darkness falls early, lighting becomes essential if you are to sit outdoors. In addition to making life easier and safer, patio lighting can lend a touch of style and originality to your outside space. You can really get creative with lighting and without breaking the bank.
Wall lights are the obvious choices if your patio is next to a wall of your property. Pendant lights are stylish choices if you benefit from both a gazebo and a power source. Add festoon lights to create a wonderful look, not to mention a special ambiance. If you are looking for patio garden ideas that won’t bust your budget, festoon lights will transform your seating area in an instant at minimal cost.
For patios situated away from your house that do not benefit from a power source, use battery powered lights or lanterns and keep spare batteries to hand.
You could also bring candles into the mix but use hurricanes or lanterns to protect naked flames from the wind and to ensure your candles burn evenly.
Patio garden planting ideas
A little greenery can go a long way to giving you an aesthetically pleasing patio.
Choose attractive planters that complement your outside space and fill them with interesting, evergreen foliage that will provide consistent colour and texture.
Palms and Yuccas will deliver a pleasantly tropical feel. For striking colour, think about Coral Bells (Heuchera) with its pink hues or acers for their fiery colours in autumn. The various Euonymus cultivars are easy to grow and provide beautiful foliage throughout the year while most hebes are bullet-proof options with the added bones of flowers in the summer.
Dress to impress
The right weather protection, heating and lighting will give you a practical patio to enjoy. But you could also benefit from an incredibly stylish, cozy and comfortable patio.
Consider dressing your furnishings with outdoor scatter cushions that will lend colour and interest to the space. Bold colours work well and deliver eye-catching looks. Co-ordinate your colours and consider displaying decorative pieces such as striking ceramics.
If you are looking for small patio garden ideas, remember that colourful and comfortable accessories will help you to make the most of even the tiniest spaces. Splashes of bright colour will draw the eye while stylish planters with attractive foliage will blur the borders of your patio to create the illusion of a larger space.
Lifting your patio with colour, texture and blankets are excellent inclusions and will help your guests to keep warm on colder evenings.
Feature a hot tub
Nothing compares to relaxing in a hot tub under the stars. That cosmic experience will come at a cost but one that could definitely prove to be worth the outlay.
A hot tub will certainly appeal to friends and family. Hot tubs are available in a variety of sizes to suit your property. They require regular maintenance and will impact your energy bills, but they are incredibly therapeutic.
If you relish the thought of a hot tub but are seeking garden patio ideas on a budget, inflatable hot tubs are the cheapest options, although they are the less aesthetically pleasing ones.
Think about storage
Dressed to impress and comfy, your patio could become the highlight of your home. However, you will need somewhere to store your seat cushions, scatter cushions, patio heater and other accessories when you aren’t using them.
Storage can be a major issue especially when exploring patio ideas for small gardens. Even if your home boasts ample storage indoors, outside storage will be more convenient.
Your outdoor storage options include sheds, lockers and boxes. All are available in diverse sizes and colours. You can choose wooden, metal or plastic structures or containers, with the wooden options requiring the most maintenance. Storage boxes are ideal for smaller spaces but should be protected from the rain with a cover.
Further back garden patio ideas
Your patio can be anything you want it to be, and you may have already envisioned your dream outside space. But maybe you could use a little inspiration.
Why not hang bird feeders within view of your patio? Wild birds benefit enormously from the provision of food in the colder months and will certainly visit your feeders, enabling you to see diverse and beautiful species.
Consider illuminating your entire garden to give you a better view from your patio and to enable you to walk around your space safely after dark.
If you don’t have one already, invest in a barbecue for winter cookouts and you could even think about featuring a television or a projection screen so you can enjoy movie nights outdoors.
Garden patio ideas are limited only by your imagination and, of course, your budget. There is much you can do to enhance even the smallest spaces and you can achieve amazing results without breaking the bank.