Landscaping With Outdoor Patios


Outdoor patios in Canada used to be a seasonal refuge where outdoor cooking and relaxation were the two main activities. Unlike decks, patios are at ground level and usually made from concrete, stone or concrete stone pavers.

In addition, patios can be a natural border for swimming pools and ponds and the larger ones can be spotted with shrubs and other landscape features like fountains. They can take up the whole backyard or be as small as a four-foot square. Whatever the size they spell relaxation.

Lawns Are Getting Smaller

In post-World War II America the suburbs became the places to live and a lush, green lawn was the welcome mat for every home in the neighborhood. This vegetation off-shoot of urban design spawned a whole new industry in fertilizers, pesticides and lawn mowers. Not only did they need to be fed and mowed but large lawns needed great volumes of water to survive. However, in many part of the country the water reserves are shrinking as the number of homes increases. This puts a strain on aquifers across the nation and the results can be seen in the lower levels of water in many rivers and lakes.

New laws have been put in place to conserve water and this puts lawns on the bottom of the scale of importance. As well, many areas have also passed laws prohibiting pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The result of these laws is that lawn is steadily shrinking as a backyard staple giving way to other features such as larger decks and patios. In some cases the whole backyard is a patio containing shrubs and small trees.

Outdoor Patios Begin With Planning

Just like almost every part of the Canadian home building a patio requires planning.

1. Patio Function

Many people build a patio for extended, outdoor living space but there are those who design a patio just to look at. In other words a patio can be used to play basketball or simply to meditate. So one of the first questions to ask is: "What is the main function of the patio?" This will decide some important items that have to be considered before building the patio: budget, materials and location. So before picking out any designs decide what is the best-use for the patio.

2. Patio Placement

A patio should provide:


*Great aesthetics

*optimum function.

To attain the perfect patio consider these points:

Location of the Patio: Most Canadian patios are located in the backyard, mostly for privacy concerns and to keep the home between the occupants and the street noise. The backyard also provides easy access from the home through the back door. This is especially important when bringing food and beverages from the home to the patio as the kitchen is usually at the back of the home.

The Sun: Few Canadians can say that they get too much sun. So, for extended use before and after the summer season, the patio should be located in an area where the sun can be felt on cool days, However, for those areas where the sun can really get hot it is advantageous to have a few shade trees and large shrubs for relief from the heat.

Multi-Levels: For homes built on the side of a hill building the patio in two or three levels could be the answer. Each level could be designated for a different use: fire pit, dining area; outdoor kitchen; and spa tub area. Each level could be designed and made level using retaining wall blocks.

Patio Materials

Natural stone, concrete, concrete pavers and stamped concrete are the most common patio materials. Whenever choosing patio materials look at how well they go with the appearance of the present landscape and home exterior. Also look at details like drainage and frost.

1. Stone: One of the most common stones for landscaping is slate although any flat paving stones can be found in Canadian patios. The great thing about Canadian stone is that there are many types and colours from which to choose. However, although each stone genre comes in many shapes and sizes making them more difficult to sort and install. The crushed-rock base of the patio must be altered to fit the various shapes because many of them have an irregular backing. In addition, fitting the ishapes together can be like putting a jig-saw puzzle together and twice as tedious. However, once installed natural stone is extremely durable and these patios can be found that are centuries old. Another bonus for choosing both natural stone and concrete pavers over concrete is that the pieces can be easily replaced if cracked or broeken..

2. Concrete Pavers: Pressure-formed concrete pavers are extremely durable and are available in a variety of colors, finishes and shapes. They are reasonably priced and can make almost any type of patio design.

3. Stamped Concrete: A poured concrete product, stamped concrete is dyed and then a mold is pressed into the concrete surface. Although it can be customized to almost any color, in areas where there is a freeze-thaw cycle cracking can be a problem.

For more information on patios search our Contractor Directory for a landscaping contractor or post your project online.

Posted by: Kim Kinrade
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