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Pocket patios - create the perfect compact outdoor space

Posted 11 April 2016

Clever planting and design tactics can transform the smallest outdoor areas into perfectly formed alfresco havens.

Even if you have the tiniest of pocket handkerchief garden or backyard, limited size doesn't mean limited creativity. A little bit of imagination can go a long way to making the most out of your outdoor space and one solutions for transforming your patch into somewhere you want to spend time is to create a patio garden.

To ensure a successful outcome, it's worth spending some time planning the sort of patio you want, working out your budget and fine tuning the details. Start by asking what it is you want to use your garden for? A modern patio can have many different uses. Will its primary purpose be dining, cooking or just a place to chill out and enjoy a cup of coffee?

The modern patio has numerous materials at its disposal. It all depends on the size of the space and its situation. But what's your preference? Do you want something modern, making use of concrete and render, or do you prefer a softer, more natural approach using timber and stone?

Start with the type of flooring you want. Natural stone looks beautiful and is extremely durable, as well as being almost maintenance free. Concrete slabs are inexpensive, low maintenance and come in a variety of designs from flagstone to brick. Wooden decking is inexpensive and simple to install, but is high maintenance, requiring cleaning and sealing every couple of years. Brick gives a lovely old world look and can be installed in a variety of patterns, such as herringbone. Pebbles and gravel are attractive and can be used in combination with any of the other flooring options.

Wooden panelling is ideal for concealing neighbouring buildings, as will structures such as trellis, arches and pergolas, which can be planted with climbing plants to add extra cover. These can all be used to add extra height and variety, helping to break up boxy spaces and generally add interest.

Planting really does help bring a patio alive and stops it feeling so sterile. Layers of plants will add depth to a garden and growing plants in attractive containers means you can reconfigure the shape of a basic patio by moving the pots around. Make sure you choose plants that grow well in containers.

Garden furniture has become increasingly sophisticated to the extent that you can create an outdoor living cum dining room with rattan sofas and armchairs, cushions in exterior fabrics, dining table and fire pits. A parasol is a good idea your patio offers little shade or you could go one step further and acquire a smart little gazebo or canvas sail.



1. Abundant planting, including hanging baskets has turned this tiny courtyard into a stylish urban garden

2. Fire pits are a highly fashionable accessory for urban gardens, and if space is tight this stylish but compact Fire Cube complete with ethanol burner, is just the ticket, £2,000, www.solusdecor.com

3. Attractive planters and ornaments that weather gracefully will add a finishing touch to a patio garden, set of three galvanised steel planters, £68, www.black-by-design.co.uk

4. It's worth investing in good quality garden furniture to transform a patio into an alfresco dining area, B&Q Summerfield dining set, www.diy.com

5. Haddonstone's AquaStack fountain is ideal for patios as it can be positioned without the need for excavation, £295, www.haddonstone.com

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