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You should consider the location of the patio with the floor plan of your house in mind. In the summer, traffic should flow in and out naturally without any disturbance. Usually the backyard is the most obvious place for a patio, normally having the most space and privacy, but if traffic flow suggests other areas, almost any part of the yard can work. The flow pattern is controlled by the location of your entries such as doors, gates, and paths; important centres such as cooking, conversation, or play and furniture. As well, traffic should flow from your garden to the patio as naturally as it does from the house to the patio.
South or even west facing patios are usually not recommended for warm climates, like the South and Southwest, U.S.A. There, sun-facing patios generally need some areas of extensive shade and planting to screen or filter the slanting rays of late afternoon sun.
To plan a successful patio, you should begin with three considerations: the weather and exposure, the expected flow of traffic, and the design in relation to the patio's main purpose-a small intimate one for family enjoyment or a large patio for entertaining. The best patios are planned to exploit either the sun or the shade.
The best patios are usually in scale with your lot, house and the recreations they support. You may not want to sacrifice too many trees or shrubs to accommodate a large patio. In this case, plan the patio as a unit with some prominent plantings, tying it into your landscape, or keep it close to the house, harmonizing with the house as much as possible. One rule of thumb is “not to let your patio be larger than the largest room in your house”.
Childrens play areas should be removed from the patio area, perhaps separated by a low fence and garden work centers should also be detached. Consider building service centers for garden uses, storage and convenient furniture racks can keep a patio uncluttered. Keep cooking centers away from central areas and route traffic around activities and conversation areas.
Patios that invite shade are suitable for hot regions…these patios should face north or east. A northern exposure is the coolest. Sections of a patio close to a north wall may never see the sun, but an eastern outlook will welcome the
cooler morning sun and ward off the hot evening rays. In cold climates, facing the patio north may require auxiliary heating and may never dry in winter.
To make a small patio appear larger, when building, avoid using glaring colors. Pave with smaller brick, tile, or stone to accent size comparisons. Create variety with new levels, raised planters, and steps that lead the eye upward, increasing the illusion of space. Try keeping fences low if possible to carry the eye beyond the property line.
Even a small patio may require a 300 square foot patio to accommodate a picnic table, barbecue, lounging chairs, etc. If space is limited, a few tips to make the most of it are: Begin by reducing the amount of furniture and the amount of activities the patio has to offer which will mean less congestion. Increase the space with built in seats, cabinets, etc., on the perimeter and curve the corners to break the sense of confinement.
Sun-inviting patios face south or west and are great in cooler climates where the sun's rays are welcome the entire year. A southern exposure is warmest, inviting the full day's sun, drying quickly after rains, and warming fastest on winter days. A western exposure offers a greater contrast with coolness in the morning and warmth in the afternoon.