Outdoor living just seems to get more popular every year. Enjoying the sunlight, feeling a cool breeze, relaxing with a cold beverage, or hanging around the barbecue with our friends and family are just a few of the reasons we are constantly drawn outdoors. But being outdoors does not mean that we have to make any sacrifices to comfort and convenience. An outdoor living environment can offer practically all of the amenities you’ll find indoors, and more. And in many homes today, the patio is the hub of our backyard lifestyles.
The patio is fundamentally a defined surface that supports foot traffic and furniture and keeps weeds and mud away. It can be made of many different materials, which is one of the reasons a patio is a more versatile outdoor living option than a wood deck (nothing against decks, of course).
Perhaps the greatest thing about patios, though, is that they are fairly easy to design and install yourself. You don’t need a lot of expensive tools and the techniques are far less complicated than wood joinery. Typically, however, a good amount of labor is involved, so if you have difficulty digging or moving slightly heavy objects around, you’ll want some assistance. But at the same time, there are many patio building products available today that are easy to handle and are quite forgiving.
This DIY Guide to Patios is mostly about designing and building the most popular kinds of residential patios. But in it you’ll also find some related information on other horizontal structures for the yard, including walkways and landscape steps. If a patio is a stage from which you can enjoy the outdoors, walkways and paths are the ties that bring it all together, linking the house, patio, garden, lawn, driveway, and any other points in between. Pathways unify various landscape elements, they define spaces, direct traffic, and make it easy to travel from one place to the next.
In this guide you’ll also find many inspiring and helpful photos of completed projects, some very practical guidance for designing and choosing materials, and helpful step-by-step projects for improving the patio space by creating wall or roof structures that shield you from rain, hot sunlight, wind, insects, and even cold weather.
In just the past few years, enhanced interest in environmentally friendly building practices has lead to a host of new patio materials. Some are made from recycled plastic, rubber, or glass. Others are “green” because they are designed to be lightweight so they combat freight costs and, by extension, save fuel and reduce pollution. Still another way in which a patio can be earth-friendly is by incorporating a permeable sub-base—that is, one that allows rainwater to soak through and stay in your yard instead of washing off the surface and into the gutters and wastewater system. Products and techniques that highlight each of these reasons to be earth-friendly with your patio are highlighted in an all-new, special section called “Earth-friendly Patios”.
Chances are pretty good that at some point you’ve enjoyed spending time on a patio. Perhaps your home has a patio already. Once you’ve gone through the steps of designing and creating just the patio to meet your needs, you will truly understand how much enjoyment these humble structures have to give.