Patio concept with hanging chair.

12 Backyard Patio Ideas To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space

Michelle Giorlando16 minute read
June 16, 2022

Your backyard is a sanctuary where you can relax and enjoy the outdoor life. One way to level up your yard environment is with a patio. Whether you’re sprucing up an existing patio or installing a new one, here are 12 outdoor patio ideas to help you transform your living space outside.

Read on to learn different design styles and elements you can incorporate to transform your backyard patio from plain to pleasing.

Considerations For Designing Your Backyard Patio

Before you begin your transformation, put some thought toward how you want to use this space. A few ideas include:

  • Incorporating a patio into your indoor-outdoor living space
  • Entertaining family and friends with lots of seating areas and an outdoor bar
  • Eating meals at an outdoor dining set and preparing them in an outdoor kitchen
  • Making a kid-friendly or pet-friendly space where you can contain your little pals
  • Enhancing outdoor features like an inground pool or fireplace
  • Creating a private, tranquil space away from the house

The way you intend to use your outdoor space will affect how you design your patio, so it’s good practice to give it some thought.

Patio Design Ideas And Styles

There are many patio design styles, ranging from modern and contemporary to cozy and cottagey. Let’s look at some of the most popular options.

Modern

A modern patio is streamlined and contemporary with wooden furniture and neutral colors.

A modern patio is streamlined and contemporary. Consider replacing any old outdoor furniture if it’s looking worn. Choose furniture with clean lines and neutral colors. Warm woods and metals add a contemporary touch. You can add pops of color with pillows, plant pots, lanterns and dishware – these are easy items to swap out yearly for the latest color trends and patterns.

Patio lights are your friends here, too. Consider adding posts to the corners of your patio to string lights on, or hang them beneath a patio umbrella. Choose contemporary styles of cafe lights to add some interest.

Finally, consider a sleek fire feature. There are many ultra-modern ones to complement your patio, including some tabletop designs.

Mediterranean

A Mediterranean patio with metal furniture, lots of stone and greenery.

A Mediterranean patio is positively dreamy. Think stone, tile, wood and greenery to spruce up your space and add flair. A warm color palette can evoke the Mediterranean very easily, and you can accent it with pops of cool colors. Consider some beautifully detailed wrought-iron furniture, especially a dining set to encourage conversation and joyful mealtimes.

A pergola provides some shade, and you can plant climbing vines like bougainvillea, wisteria or clematis on it for a charming effect. For a more inexpensive alternative, install sheets of lattice that your vines can climb. Adding a water feature can add to the atmosphere, too. A chiminea fireplace adds some style, and if you want to go big, install a brick pizza oven.

Add terra cotta pots to complete the look, and think about planting aromatic herbs like rosemary, basil, oregano or lavender. Their scents are unparalleled, and as a bonus, you can use them for cooking!

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Rustic 

A rustic patio with worn wooden benches, coffee table, and plants in wooden barrels.

Create a rustic look on your patio with lots of wood and wicker. Use warm neutral colors and reclaimed woods. Consider a long wooden table with benches or chairs for an inviting dining space.

Think about bigger features. A pergola is a pleasing addition to a rustic patio, as is a fireplace. Complement your rustic decor with metal lanterns or mason jars to hold candles and include a few throw pillows of different textures.

Classic

A rattan sofa and coffee table on a wooden patio floor, surrounded by colorful flowers in flower boxes.

A classic or traditional patio is simple, with neutral features. Try a picnic table or a seating area with cushioned chairs. Wicker and rattan are timeless materials, and Adirondack chairs make a classic, classy statement.

Tranquil

A tranquil patio with a hanging swing, and comfy outdoor sofas and chairs, surrounded by greenery.

For a tranquil patio, relaxation is the inspiration. Think about installing a fabric and metal gazebo with sheer curtains. Or, install a pergola for shade. Consider hanging swings or chairs in muted tones or installing a hammock. Adding a water feature like a fountain or bubbler will give you soothing sounds to enjoy. And don’t forget lots of greenery – potted plants and hanging baskets add pops of greens and florals to your relaxation station.

Cozy 

A cozy patio with a picnic table and conversation area around a fire pit.

A cozy outdoor patio should feel like a sweet oasis. White wicker furniture gives it a cottage feel, and you can mix and match florals and patterns for a shabby chic look. Adding lots of cushions makes it cozier, as well as adding an outdoor rug. String lights contribute to a pleasant atmosphere. Make sure to add lots of plants and flowers!

Retro

A retro patio with a midcentury dining set and midcentury chairs.

Flash back to the midcentury with a vintage-inspired patio. Try a metal bistro set in mint, turquoise, red or yellow. Look for a new or used metal or wicker settee with retro floral cushions, and don’t forget an outdoor bar cart for your summertime lemonade. Add plant pots in bright colors to complement the decor.

12 Outdoor Patio Ideas For Your Home

There are so many different design elements you may want to consider when planning and designing your outdoor patio space. Once you figure out how you want to use your patio and settle on a theme that’s relevant to your interests and intentions, you can start choosing which features to incorporate to maximize your patio’s enjoyment factor.

1. Patio Flooring Materials 

A classic backyard patio with stamped concrete flooring.

You’ll need a good base to get started. There are many outdoor patio flooring materials and styles, including ones for pathways and walkways. Figure out which material suits your taste and your budget. Here are some of the most common patio flooring options:

  • Concrete: One of the most inexpensive options for patio flooring. Concrete is very versatile and can be stamped and stained to your tastes. It’s very easy to maintain and can last decades.
  • Bricks and brick pavers: Bricks look beautiful, and brick and concrete pavers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. An advantage of using bricks is that when one is damaged, you can replace it without touching the rest of the floor, something that can’t be done when concrete gets a crack.
  • Ceramic tile: Tile is a durable choice for patios, and the design options are endless. You can also choose tiles with a bit of roughness to them to prevent people slipping. Much like bricks, when one tile gets damaged, you can easily replace it without disturbing the others.
  • Hardwood – It’s beautiful and lasts long when treated for the outdoor elements properly. However, it’s typically more expensive.
  • Composite decking: Made of resin, sawdust and wood fiber, this decking looks like real wood but lasts much longer due to its durability. This is less expensive than actual wood but shares the timeless look.
  • Rubber tiles or pavers: This is an excellent choice for families with small children. Rubber tiles or pavers are inexpensive, come in a variety of shapes and colors and provide a softer surface. They’re very durable, too.
  • Stepping stones: Whether you create a path with them or a whole patio, flat stepping stones like flagstone instantly add character and charm. You can even fill in the gaps between with mosses or other creeping plants.
  • Gravel: One of the most inexpensive options, gravel is excellent for oddly shaped spaces or slopes. Just make sure to put a layer or two of landscaping fabric beneath it to choke out the weeds.

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2. Outdoor Furniture

Modern wooden outdoor sofa and chairs with neutral cushions, surrounded by greenery.
There are so many outdoor furniture options to each to complement any décor scheme. Choose pieces that will properly enhance your environment and give you the best use of your space:
  • Dining table/picnic table: For many, outdoor dining is a must. Whether you have a simple bistro table with two chairs or a long dining table that seats eight, you’ll have a welcoming place to eat al fresco. If you’re looking to save some money, many patio dining sets and picnic tables can be bought on social media marketplaces and at yard sales. You can always buy replacement cushions if they’re not to your taste.
  • Bench: Benches are very versatile. They don’t take up much space, and they can be used for seating, as an extra coffee table or to hold potted plants.
  • Outdoor sofa: If you’re looking to lounge, try an outdoor sofa. These come in a wide range of styles and colors, and you can swap out the cushions any time you want. Consider making a conversation space with an outdoor sofa, lounge chairs and a coffee table.
  • Lounge chairs: Whether you want to stretch out in the sun or nestle under a pergola for shade, lounge chairs are a resourceful addition to a patio. They’re easy to move around so you can shuffle your furniture to suit your occasions.
  • Hanging chair: With the comfort of a chair and the fun of a swing, a hanging chair is a delightful addition to a patio. You can buy a stand or hang it from a sturdy tree.
  • Side table: Several side tables will be useful to have around! They’re easy to mov around and perfect for setting down drinks or displaying flower pots.
  • Coffee table: Complete an outdoor living area with a coffee table to anchor a conversation space. You can also repurpose a bench or side table for a smaller-scale coffee table.
  • Ottoman: Sit back, relax and put your feet up with an ottoman. These also work as side tables and extra seats for crowded gatherings.
  • Hammock: A relaxing addition to any patio, a hammock is a perfect place to chill out. Use a stand, two trees or install sturdy posts in your patio to hang them from.
  • Swing: A gentle porch swing is a pleasant choice for a patio. It can be part of the conversation space or by itself to encourage tranquility.
  • Kid furniture: Don’t forget your smaller folks! There are child-sized versions of most of these furniture options, and your little pals will love furniture in their size. Kid furniture is often found at yard sales and on social media marketplaces, which may be something to consider if you only occasionally have younger visitors.

3. Lighting 

A wooden table and chairs set with bistro lights strung above in tree branches.

Don’t forget to light your outdoor space. This gives you the option to use your space late into the summer nights. There are electrical, solar-powered and battery-powered versions of most of these options, so choose what works best for you:

  • Hanging lights: If you’ve got the perfect place, consider hanging pendant lighting over your conversation area or dining area.
  • String lights: One of the most cheerful, versatile additions to any patio! You can choose inexpensive holiday lights all the way up to trendy, vintage-tinged Edison bulbs and everything in between.
  • Lanterns: Lanterns are a staple lighting option to light your patio and add a classic and cozy vibe. You can choose kerosene, solar-powered or candle-lit versions. Regardless, a lantern will add character to your environment.
  • Candles: Used in lanterns and mason jars or atop decorative dishes, candles are a lovely way to add some mood lighting to your patio space. Plus, you can use citronella candles to ward off bugs in the height of summer.
  • Torches: Used with citronella oil, these are gorgeous ways to add visual interest while repelling insects.
  • Path lights: These are usually solar powered, and are an excellent way to avoid tripping and falling when darkness comes.

4. Flowers And Plants

: A wooden wall with plant pots attached and flowers inside, with two chairs beneath them and potted plants beside them.
A patio isn’t complete without flowers and plants. There are so many kinds you can arrange in your patio space. Think about plants that bloom at different points in the year, like the best summer flowers or plants for fall. Adding evergreens nearby ensures color all year-round.Here are some ways to incorporate flowers and plants into your patio space:
  • Grow a small flower graden or herb garden: Flowers and herbs add color and can create a scent for your patio. Grow them in containers or in the ground. Flower beds make excellent borders to define the patio space.
  • Add potted plants: Potted flowers and plants are a versatile addition because you can move them anywhere you want. Choose colorful pots to complement your decor and select flowers that bloom at different times of year, so you’re always surrounded by blossoms.
  • Build a plant wall: If you don’t have a ton of space but still want greenery, consider using some of your vertical space to make a plant wall. It can be as simple as attaching a sheet of lattice to posts or to the side of your home or garage and screwing in plant pots. This can also double as a privacy screen.
  • Grow vines up a pergola: Clematis, bougainvillea and wisteria, among others, all love to climb. Add some visual interest to your pergola with a vining plant.
  • Use ground cover plants: Creeping plants make perfect fillers for between paving stones and add so much character, especially if you’re going for a more timeless, natural look on your patio.
  • Create an evergreen border: Add privacy and greenery with evergreens, such as arborvitae. These hold their leaves year-round and make perfect natural fences.

5. Fire Pit

A backyard patio with a square fire pit in front of an outdoor sofa and chairs.

Add warmth to your outdoor patio space with a fire pit. You can build the fire pit yourself or hire a professional. Other types are moveable and require no installation. You’ll need to pay attention to the type of patio flooring you have – don’t use a fire pit on wooden, plastic or rubber flooring without a fireproof mat.

Here are some popular choices for a fire feature:

  • Fire pit: The most classic of all fire features. You can build a permanent one or use a fire bowl, which can be moved around. These are made of all kinds of materials, such as metal, stone and concrete.
  • Propane fire: These give you a beautiful fire without the mess and smell of wood and ashes. You’ll need access to a gas line, though.
  • Tabletop fire: These are generally smaller features with a controlled flame.
  • Chiminea: This feature has a chimney to help direct the smoke away from your eyes. They’re often more decorative than other features and come in a variety of materials and designs.

6. Patio Coverings

A backyard pergola covering two comfortable outdoor chairs.

Shade is an essential part of an outdoor space. Patio covers not only provide shade, but they can also protect from rain. There are many ways to cover your patio:

  • Umbrella: This is one of the most inexpensive ways to give your patio some shade. Umbrellas are a fun way to bring color and style onto your patio without a big financial investment.
  • Pergola: Pergolas are a beautiful architectural feature that might be worth the investment. They offer shade without blocking the view of the sky, and they allow excellent airflow. Climbing vines or sheer curtains can add a lot of interest to a pergola, too.
  • Awning: Installing an awning or sail is an easy way to provide shade and character to your patio. There are many designs to choose from, including permanent and retractable options.
  • Gazebo: perfect for covering a seating area, dining table or hot tub, a gazebo provides plenty of shade and, when used with curtains, provides plenty of privacy. There are all kinds of designs, materials and price points to choose from.

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7. Fencing 

A backyard patio with wooden fencing with vertical slats surrounding an outdoor sofa and umbrella.

If you’ve got neighbors close by you may want to consider some sort of fencing to give you some privacy. Fencing also allows you to contain kids or pets onto your patio as well.

Here are some fencing options to think about:

  • Classic fence: Choose wood, metal, composite or vinyl/PVC fencing for a traditional look. Of all these types of classic fencing, vinyl/PVC is typically the least expensive.
  • Reed fencing: An inexpensive alternative, reed fencing is moveable and can add a more natural feel and a lot of character to your outdoor space.
  • Greenery: Combine privacy with vegetation and plant arborvitae around the border of your patio. These tall, dense shrubs are a popular option because they grow easily and are hardy – often unaffected by pests and disease.
  • Lattice: Another inexpensive alternative, lattice fencing gives you privacy and also makes an excellent wall for vines to climb.

8. Technology 

: A comfortable outdoor living space with a wooden roof and an outdoor TV on a stone fireplace.

Technology isn’t just for inside the house. If you’re looking to make an entertainment oasis, consider adding some outdoor tech to level up your patio:

  • TV: An outdoor television can make bingeing your favorite shows in fresh air easy. Look for models that are meant to be installed outside and can withstand the elements.
  • Projector: A projector might be the perfect addition to have family movie nights outside. Invite the neighbors and hang a sheet for the perfect make-shift screen.
  • Stereo system: This can be as simple as a speaker or as complex as a fully equipped, surround sound system. You can even find speakers disguised as rocks … rock on!

9. Outdoor Decor 

Patio with a charming table and chair, set on an outdoor rug, with matching napkins and tableware.
One of the easiest ways to add to your patio’s general theme and vibe is through accessories. These are often inexpensive ways to add pops of color, surprise and delight, not to mention making your space more functional and comfortable.Here are some accessories to consider:
  • Area rug: Protect your toes from hot flooring while tying together your conversation space. An outdoor rug is an easy way to add some color, softness and life to your patio. Choose one that’s mold and mildew resistant.
  • Rolling cart: Whether it’s for food, drinks or both, a rolling cart can make your outdoor life a little easier. It’s easy to move around and comes in handy when grilling or entertaining.
  • Outdoor storage: Keep your cushions and pillows dry by having a place to store them, such as an ottoman or bench with built-in storage. As a bonus, your storage containers can work as extra seating when it’s party time.
  • Unbreakable tableware: Outfit your table with unbreakable drinkware and dishes. It’s an economical way to avoid damage from wind and other weather patterns and ensure everyone’s safety.

10. Seasonal Considerations 

A pair of bamboo citronella torches burning in the evening.

Consider ways to make your patio more comfortable and useable year-round (or as close to year-round that weather permits):

  • Waterproof cushions and pillows: Make sure that any fabric items you add are waterproof. This will help them stay fresh and avoid mold and mildew.
  • Bug-repellent candles and torches: Keep the mosquitoes at bay with citronella candles and torches.
  • Bug zapper: If you’ve got lots of bugs, neutralize them with a bug zapper.
  • Mesh tent: Yet another way to keep insects from bugging you. These canopies are relatively inexpensive and can make your outdoor lounging and dining much more comfortable.
  • Mesh plate covers: Keep the flies off your food with inexpensive plate covers.
  • Furniture covers: Prolong the life of your outdoor furniture with covers, especially over the winter.
  • Patio heater: Extend your patio usage into the winter with an electric or propane patio heater.
  • Ceiling fan: If you’ve got the structure for it, hanging a ceiling fan can help circulate the air on your patio to make it more comfortable on summer’s hottest days.

11. Outdoor Kitchen 

Outdoor kitchen with dining area under pergola.

An outdoor kitchen might be a big draw for cooking and barbecue enthusiasts. If you don’t want to build a full kitchen, consider some smaller elements instead:

  • Grill: Add a gas, electric, charcoal or wood pellet grill to your outdoor space. These range in price, with some as low as $30.
  • Smoker: A smoker allows you to slow-cook meats from the comfort of your own backyard.
  • Refrigerator or cooler: Keep your cold stuff cold with a small fridge or cooler.
  • Pizza oven: You can buy one or build one to enjoy fresh pizza anytime.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

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12. Water Features

A simple, beautiful patio with a round concrete water fountain in the middle.

A water feature can bring peace to an outdoor space, whether it’s large or small. Consider adding one of these popular types:

  • Water fountain: From ornate to minimalist, water fountains come in all shapes and styles. Some are freestanding and some are best used in conjunction with a small pond.
  • Koi pond: You can buy pond kits to install yourself, and if you’re up for pets, add some beautiful koi fish, which can survive through winters if properly cared for. You’ll need to ensure the water is kept clean, aerated and at the right temperature and avoid overfeeding the fish.
  • Bubbler fountain: These are an excellent way to add a water feature to a small space. You can buy a small bubbler and insert it into an upright container, where it’ll make water bubble to the top, but stay inside the container, providing the sound of flowing water without the mess.
  • Bird bath: Assist our feathered friends with their daily water needs by installing a bird bath. Make sure it gets no deeper than 3 inches and has a non-skid interior.
  • Hot tub: Go big with a spa for yourself. A hot tub is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors year-round. You can get a permanent one or an inflatable one for less cost.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking for a small, tranquil oasis or a large party pad for entertaining, you can transform your patio into your perfect space with furniture, accessories and greenery. In the mood to revamp more outdoor spaces? Explore other backyard landscaping ideas!

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Michelle Giorlando

Michelle Giorlando is a freelance writer who lives in metro Detroit. When she's not writing about homeownership, finances, and mortgages, she enjoys performing improv, gardening, and befriending the wildlife in her yard.