Creating Your Ideal Garden Patio Retreat

By: Terry Morrill

Years ago, in most cases patios were just slabs of concrete. There just weren’t many creative possibilities at that time. Today however, no matter where you live, you can fashion a stylish garden patio that’s an intimate getaway right outside your back door.

The varieties of materials are ever expanding and being combined with other structural elements such as gazebos and cedar pergolas. With the right materials and decorative accents, a patio can become a beautiful backyard retreat that won’t rot, attract termites, or require a fresh paint job or sealant every few years. Whatever you do, think about your climate and whether you need protection from the wind or sun.

You’re much more likely to spend time in a room if it includes elements you love, such as your favorite color or favorite painting. The same thing goes for patios too.

Stone Patios and Wooden Decks

We sometimes talk to people who are trying to decide between installing a wooden deck and a stone deck or patio. Both of these can be a beautiful addition to your home and add to the value.

A stone patio gives you all the beauty and elegance of a manicured lawn without the maintenance. They add a somewhat formal touch to any outdoor living space and will long outlast a wooden deck. The life of a wooden deck is usually in terms of tens of years. Wooden decks are also very high maintenance and require wood treatment every year.

On the contrary, a paving stone patio can last a lifetime. In fact, Pacific Outdoor Living gives a lifetime warranty on any pavers cracking.

When designing a stone patio with paving stones, varying their size and colors will give your patio a quilted, cohesive look. It's also very important to use paving stones specifically designed for patios. Pacific Pavingstone uses pavers that are generally fired longer and at a higher temperature making them more suitable for a variety of weather conditions and more durable to wear and tear.

Tips for Patio Planning

Here are some tips for turning these outdoor living spots into a personal paradise.

• Imagine different possibilities. What do you want your backyard to be? How will you use it? As an outdoor family dining or sitting room? Do you plan to entertain there? If so, how many people do you plan to accommodate? Do you want it to be a dreamy, shaded, protected space, or do you want it roofless so you can stare up at the stars or enjoy the sun?

• Use the architectural style as a basis. An outdoor retreat should complement your home’s architecture, not fight it. For example, a Southwest-style courtyard enhances an adobe home, while a formal English outdoor sitting room suits a traditional style. Use colors from your house in your patio design to tie the spaces together.

• Extend the inside - outside. Pick colors, fabrics, and furniture styles you like inside your house and take them outside for a harmonious connection between the indoors and outdoors.

• Define the space. Structures help define a patio as a “room.” Adding an overhead structure gives the sense of a ceiling and the space a sense of privacy.

• Turn it into a focal point. A patio should grab your eye. Consider how you look out onto the terrace from the house and what you want to see from those windows.

• Go shopping. Look around for pieces that capture your interest and compliment your patio. These pieces will make the patio your own.

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Terry Morrill is President of Pacific Pavingstone (, a company that installs paving stone driveways, patios and pool decks in Southern California. He also owns California Waterscapes (, specializing in designing and installing ecologically balanced ponds, streams and waterfalls, and Pacific Outdoor Living Pro Division (, a nationwide distributor of Aquascape pond products.

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