Are you neglecting your outdoor space because you can't think of how to pull it all together? This guide provides helpful ideas to transform your patio.
When you finally get a house, it’s easy to get carried away with planning on how you want to decorate it. You want your bathroom to feel like a spa. You plan to turn your living and dining area into the perfect spaces for entertaining guests.
You’d like your kitchen to be a chef’s dream. You’ll tackle work and get things done in your home office. Your ideal bedroom would be a soothing, relaxing place to unwind after a long day.
However, there’s one area of the house that can get overlooked when you spend so much time and money perfecting the inside and that’s your backyard patio. Whatever the size, your backyard patio adds valuable square footage to your real estate, and there are easy ways to make the most of it and turn it into an extension of the indoor space.
Of course, an oasis is in the eye of the beholder and depends on the space that you’re dealing with. If you have a covered patio, maybe you’d like a Moroccan-themed outdoor sitting area full of colorful fabrics, rugs, and pillows. If your patio is exposed to the elements, then you might think the best use of the space could be for grilling and entertaining guests.
Whatever your tastes, there are plenty of ways to turn your backyard patio into an oasis.
Transforming your patio from meh to wow can be as simple as choosing the right lighting features. From fire pits to stringing old-fashioned light bulbs, brightening up your patio space can help take you beyond spending time there during the day to a new area for lounging at night.
Homemade Light Poles
You can even create your own lighting. For this DIY project you spray the inside of two five-gallon buckets with WD-40 to prevent the concrete bases you’re going to create from sticking to the interiors.
Once you’ve poured and mixed the cement in the buckets, you can insert what you’d like to serve as your light pole. You can use anything from tree trunks to curtain rods to bamboo trees. After about 20 minutes of holding your chosen light pole in place, the cement will have set enough for it to stay straight while it dries.
A day later, when you’re sure that the cement has completely dried, you can hammer the edges of the concrete loose from the buckets and take the buckets off if you want to keep and reuse them again later. If the bucket is too heavy and you’re not going to use them again, you can cut the buckets off the concrete block.
Place the two bases across from each other and drill a small hole into the top of each pole to insert small hooks. String the lighting of your choosing, like white fairy lights or festive Christmas lights, from one hook to the other to complete your handmade outdoor light fixture.
Build a Fire Pit
If the temperatures drop at night in your neck of the woods, you can still enjoy your patio and bring your own warmth by building a fire pit.
Make sure local codes don’t have any restrictions that could prevent you from getting started, and the site for your pit is safely located away from your house or any other buildings or foliage. Mark the center of your site with a stake and make the circle a little bigger than the intended pit’s actual size. Dig to a depth around 7 inches below grade and use a hand tamper to pack the dirt walls.
Build a gravel base and use a level to layer the blocks that will serve as the first layer. You might need to tap down the blocks or use sand to make things level. For the next row, alternate the joints. Before you stack blocks any higher, insert the fire pit bowl and readjust the blocks if necessary.
Once you’re happy with the fit, remove the bowl, take off the top layer of blocks, and use construction glue to bring the two layers together. Repeat the process until you’ve accumulated three or four layers of blocks. Placing the fire pit bowl is the last step.
If you want to define your patio or create separation from neighbors who are too close, there are several ways you can build “walls” to bring new life to the space.
You can install outdoor curtains on a rod designed for outdoor use within the walls of a screened porch or deck. You can select vivid colors in waterproof fabrics to brighten up the space and give it a vibrant feel. Or if you want to have a more relaxed or Mediterranean vibe, you can pick gauzy white curtains to make the patio feel airy and light.
If you don’t want to use curtains, you can also use outdoor blinds made of a lightweight, durable material like bamboo.
There are patio shades that can provide shelter from sun exposure that can be installed to drape over the patio like a sail or a canopy. If you have a free weekend, you can build your own combination canopy awning complete with walls. You can choose a sheer fabric that won’t darken the space and still allows for air flow, so you don’t feel stifled.
Make a Wall of Plants
You can create a vertical garden wall to add privacy and greenery to your patio. Creating a wooden frame for a mesh rebar sheet will serve as the foundation for your “wall” that you can use to hang plants. If you select plants that drape, it will increase the sheltering effect.
Build an Actual Wall
If you’ve got the time to invest and can get the permits, you can construct a wall that adds some stylish flair to your patio. First, you have to dig the post holes, and then you pour concrete into each hole before putting post brackets on top and letting the concrete dry for about a day. Once dry, insert 4X4-inch posts to the brackets that will be the foundation for a stud wall.
Use a nail gun to mount 2- x 4-inch x 4-foot boards in two feet intervals to the stud wall. Mount smooth ¾- x 4-inch x 8-foot cedar boards to the stud wall with exterior wood glue. You can use 1- x 4-inch nails to reinforce the cedar boards and then use a stain to give the wall the appearance you prefer.
Furnish Your Space
You’ll probably be more inclined to spend time out on your patio if you furnish it with some comfortable seating and tables. Depending on your space, you might just want to have a couple of Adirondack chairs or a bistro set of two chairs and a small table. Or if you have a bigger patio, you can get some benches or a sectional outdoor sofa that provides plenty of seating.
If buying furniture is not in the budget, or you want to have a less cookie-cutter look, you can create your own by upcycling something as simple as shipping pallets that area stores may have discarded. Pallets can be repurposed to be used as seating, or a daybed for your patio, or even a table.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Green
Adding potted plants or flowers to your patio is an excellent way to augment that outdoor feeling, even if you have limited space in an urban environment. Although terra cotta planters are a classic, they can feel generic. You can use patio pavers to build planter boxes.
Make sure the pavers are all the same size so that you can use four to create a box and the fifth to serve as the base. Glue the four sides together before adding the bottom. Once dry, use the latex primer and paint to put your own artistic stamp on the planter. When the paint has dried, fill with your favorite plants or blooms.
Add a Water Feature
These days, there are a multitude of ways that you can add some Zen to your patio space with the addition of a water feature. From rustic fountains that look like staggered old water barrels to solar powered bright blue cascading pumps, and rock fountains, you can find a design that suits your style.
If you have the budget and can afford to splurge, nothing turns the patio into everyone’s favorite place to hang out like adding a hot tub.
Creating an oasis in your backyard patio can be very simple, and the sky’s the limit. There are as many options out there to make your outdoor space feel as much as home as the inside of your house.