A standard patio is a blank canvas, ready to be transformed into whatever you need it for. The thing is, anyone can put some fold-out chairs down and call it a day, but the secret to a gorgeous patio area is in the planning.
If you’re intending to build a patio, renovate the one you have, or simply get decorating so it feels more homely, we’ve got a whole load of inspirational patio garden ideas for every step.
Maybe you’re preparing for a serious garden investment, or perhaps you’re only looking for some cheap, DIY patio ideas that will elevate your space. If you put some thought and creativity into your goals, you’ll be able to make the most out of every penny.
Here’s the low-down on how to take a drab patio and turn it into something amazing.
Patio Garden Ideas
One of the most effective ways to completely revamp your patio area is to update your flooring. What that means exactly will depend on your budget and how much time you’re willing to spend; here are a few ideas for new patio flooring that range from inexpensive to serious investment.
1. DIY brick patios
If you have a supply of old bricks – or you fancy heading down to a salvage yard to find some, or you’re happy buying new paving blocks – a DIY brick patio is easy enough.
It will help to plan the formation and pattern ahead of time, but it’s easy enough to arrange and rearrange the bricks to try out new ideas in-situ. There’s lots of inspiration to be had for square, circular and irregularly-shaped patios, using uniform bricks or ones in various colours.
A cosy deck is a warm and welcoming alternative to cold, hard concrete. Available in all kinds of colours and effects, a deck can pull together a contemporary courtyard or revive a more traditional family home.
This contemporary deck with its big squashy sofa is a beautiful, comfortable spot for sitting out and looking over the garden.
If you don’t fancy the commitment of installing a whole deck, look out for outdoor flooring tiles. Perfect for small patios, they’re also ideal for covering balconies and roof terraces, or if you’re living in rented accommodation.
3. Mixed paving stones
This fresh patio is super low-maintenance, but the mixed-sized paving stones create some visual interest in an otherwise pared-back space. The contemporary furniture and monochrome colour palette also keep things looking sharp and modern.
4. Pea gravel
Gravel is a quick and easy way to cover a large area of your garden with a more hardy material than grass. Just keep in mind that it can be harmful to pets and children if they’re walking on it or accidentally ingest some. If this is a worry, take a look at our posts on dog-friendly garden ideas.
5. Paving stones and gravel
Lay flagstones, stone tiles or stepping stones in a formation, with gravel in-between to keep your patio grass-free and durable.
6. Sneaky concrete
Comfortable doing DIY concrete? With the right concrete stamp and a bit of paint, you can easily make concrete look like bricks, tiles, natural stone or, well, just about anything else. Take a look at our concrete landscaping ideas for more ways to work with concrete.
7. Patterned tiles
For maximum “wow” effect, go for patterned tiles. With thousands of colours and styles available, you can make your patio area totally unrecognisable (although the costs can climb quite quickly). You don’t have to do your whole patio though – tiling a border, or centre section can create a beautiful effect.
If you’re transforming your patio on a budget, you might not want to completely replace the flooring. One thing you can do is paint whatever you’ve got – whether it’s a slab of concrete or tired decking.
Choose one or two colours, grab a stencil (or use painter’s tape), and breathe a whole new life into your outdoor space. You can get the patterned tile effect for a fraction of the cost.
UK Patio Plant Ideas
Plants and flowers add bursts of seasonal colour and interest to your patio, whether you grow them in flower beds, window boxes or pots.
Plus, they’re a great patio upgrade for tight budgets! Combine annuals, perennials and shrubs, and enjoy enticing the birds, butterflies and bees to your garden.
Before choosing patio plants, make sure you know how much sun it gets, and where your shady spots are. It will help to know your USDA region too – all of these things contribute to understanding which plants will thrive in your garden.
Lavender looks pretty and smells even better. It likes to be in a sunny spot, but is hardy enough to survive British winters. As an added bonus, lavender attracts happy little bees but can keep mosquitos, moths and flies at bay.
Hydrangea comes in heaps of colours and sizes, and all of them are my absolute favourite. They bloom from quite early in the summer, and do well in the sunshine.
Fuschia thrives in the shade – something I’m learning just now, and explains why the one I bought at the beginning of summer is now scorched. These gorgeous little flowers look great in hanging baskets or spilling out of pots.
Marigolds add a bright burst of colour, and have the added benefit of being a natural slug repellent. Excellent news if you’re hoping to grow your own kitchen garden.
13. Lemon balm
Lemon balm is another little plant with a lovely, fresh fragrance. A member of the mint family, it’s also great for keeping mosquitoes away – a perfect way for it to pay rent for a pot on your patio.
Roses look fantastic and smell divine – it’s no wonder they’re a staple in classic English gardens. Even if you’re only got a small patio, try and make some room for a climbing rose or rose shrub. With so many varieties available, talk to a specialist at your local garden centre or plant nursery to find the most suitable blooms for your patio.
Patio Ideas to keep cool
Parasols are super versatile, as long as you’ve got somewhere dry to store them. They’re great if you like to sit in different spots and want to bring some shade with you, plus they provide a bit of privacy in terraced gardens that are overlooked.
A gazebo on your patio can keep all the elements at bay, protecting you from the sun, wind and gentle showers. Most designs come with sides that can be tied at the top or corners, but check out gazebos that have a mesh option too. They keep bugs out and offer a little bit more privacy while allowing a fresh breeze through.
More on this: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Gazebo?
Adding a pergola to your patio creates a permanent shelter and decorative focal point for your whole garden. Cover it with a trellis or solid materials to create a bit more shade, and make the most of its structure by growing flowers across it and hanging string lights from it.
18. Fencing panels
You can also use fencing panels to get some shade and privacy outside. Open slats allow you to look out over your garden without being completely exposed to the wind, sun, or overlooking gardens. This cosy IKEA garden is styled with climbing plants and string lights for a look that’s both modern and blended with nature.
Patio Garden Ideas: Decor & Finishing Touches
Once you’re happy with the overall structure of your patio, it’s time to decorate it. The right touches can transform your outdoor space into an almost-seamless extension of your home, a welcoming place to socialise or a romantic spot for dining al fresco.
19. “Indoor” decor for outside
Since moving to a sunnier part of the world, I’m much more appreciative of the indoor/outdoor trend; my humble balcony essentially becomes an extension of my living space from spring to autumn. We literally take our dining table outside, as well as an old loveseat with removable cushions (which I bring in on damp nights).
Outdoor rugs are great for making a patio area feel as cosy, as are pouffes and cushions. Other homely touches, like coffee tables and portable lamps add to the vibe. As you can see, this cosy patio setup is pooch approved!
You can really take the “outdoor living room” styling as far as you want. This bright, happy patio in Somerset even has a fireplace setting as a focal point! Against the crisp white of the wall, the pastel colours look totally tropical – I think you’d have a hard time coming back inside!
20. Patio lighting
My favourite outdoor lighting is string lighting – either delicate fairy lights, or the larger bulbs of festoon lighting. I like the fun, festival-like atmosphere they create, and being able to string them along the most important areas of your garden (like the path) is really practical too.
When weighing up the lighting choices for your patio garden ideas, make sure you strike the right balance between practical lighting and ambient lighting. If you just want a place to sit and chat, low lighting levels will probably be adequate.
When you want to eat, work or play in your garden, a fixed light (that’s wired into the main) will effectively provide “task” lighting. It all depends on how late you expect to be out!
Strip it back, and this is a simple paving-stone patio, but it’s been upgraded in just about every way! The painted fence and overflowing flower beds (including trendy wooden planters) provide a beautiful backdrop that complements and contrasts with the wooden furniture. The wicker elements and cosy cushions provide more visual contrast and consistency, tying the whole look together.
21. Secret storage
Garden clutter really takes the shine off of an otherwise swish-looking patio. It’s really important to think about garden storage, and whether you can incorporate any into your patio furniture ideas.
Basically, any new accessories that you buy for your patio should have a home inside a table or footstool – don’t let your patio garden ideas start taking over the inside of your home too!
22. Keeping it snug
I’m perfectly happy to stay out in the garden all night… as long as my toes are toasty. Curling up under heavy blankets is always my first choice, but as the temperature drops you really need a primary source of heat.
Fire pits are brilliant and, although they’ll take a day to build or install, are usually the most cost-effective solution long-term. You can build a DIY fire pit pretty easily, and they don’t need much maintenance beyond getting cleaned out (and covered in the rain).
Chimineas are a popular alternative, and are better at directing the smoke away from wherever you’re sitting. You can’t really build a DIY chiminea, but they’re a relatively inexpensive purchase if you’ve budgeted to heat your patio.
Propane heaters are a popular choice when it comes to heated patio garden ideas. You might associate them with restaurants or beer gardens, but lots of homeowners have them too! Available in lots of contemporary and retro-inspired designs, they work really well in modern and minimalist gardens.
Last – but far from least – you could always install a hot tub! They’re often associated with luxury homes and gardens, but you might be surprised by how low-cost a patio hot tub can be. Check out our post on garden hot tub ideas if you’re curious!