Loving the warm weather? Make the most of it with our low-effort, maximum-reward tips for glorious outdoor spaces
Often neglected through the winter months, your patio may well be crying out for attention now that the sun is here. But don’t worry, you don’t need to go buying pressure washers or rigging up automatic irrigation systems to make the most of your outdoor space. Resist the need to gen up on repointing and laying brick paving in that Big Book of DIY that gathers dust most of the year.
Our easy patio ideas are a little less – well – strenuous. Have a sweep up, by all means, but then just have a little go at two or three of these ideas and you’ll soon be using your patio as if it’s a newly discovered room in your house.
1. Wheel the barbecue into position
If you haven’t already got the barbecue out to enjoy the sunshine, now is the time. Patios are ideal for outdoor cooking because of their hard stone surfaces. If weeds are popping up in between the cracks, spend a few minutes tackling the worst of them – but don’t fret, the important thing is to enjoy your outside space.
2. Put out some garden seating
Make sure you have enough chairs outside for your household and any guests you may have invited. A mixture of seating will work really well, as this cluster of three shows. Don’t apologise for unmatched pieces – if you look like you’ve done it on purpose, people will assume it’s just a trendy approach to patio seating. Which it is.
3. Try a hammock for a relaxed feel
If hard chairs don’t grab you, you might prefer a totally chilled-out hammock. Make sure it is hung securely and that the wall or tree it is attached to is strong enough to take your weight. Once you’ve done that, all that’s left is to kick back with a good book, a glass of wine and some nibbles. Bliss!
4. Think about lighting
Lighting is an oft neglected part of patios and gardens, but if you want to enjoy the outdoors late into the evening, it’s worth paying attention to. Strategically placed lights will create a wonderful atmosphere as they bounce light off plants. There are lots of options, from ground-level lighting to larger street-lamp stakes that can be easily inserted into oversized plant pots.
5. Cast a pretty glow with patio-side lanterns
Lanterns are another great lighting option. If you’re lucky enough to have a tree conveniently growing next to your outdoor seating area, why not put it to use as a lantern hanger? If you haven’t, the versatile lantern can look just as pretty hanging from fences or gracing tabletops. Go for pretty LED Chinese-style designs or hang strings of outdoor fairylights. Lovely for entertaining on warm, still evenings. If you go the candle route with tealights, remember the usual caveats and never leave them burning unattended.
6. Lay a beautiful tablecloth
Just look what a pretty fabric can do. Choose a cheery floral, give it a good press and lay it over your garden table, weighted down with vases of flowers freshly cut from your garden if you have any – or go the florist or faux option if you don’t. Choose cotton or linen for entertaining; oilcoth or wipeable PVC for the everyday.
7. Plant up those pots
A key rule of patios is have pots – lots of pots. This is particularly important if you have a small space with neither lawn nor flowerbeds that would normally allow you to plant up elsewhere. For an eclectic feel, go for a nice mix – evergreen shrubs, grasses, flowering annuals and bedding – and, where you can, choose those that don’t mind getting a little dry, such as lavender. Fragrance is another thing to consider with pots. A delicious waft of scent is a fabulous feature of any seating area.
8. Create a taste of the exotic
Get that Moroccan bazaar feel by introducing rugs underfoot and awnings overhead. Cushions and rugs in myriad patterns and colours create a gloriously comfortable place to relax. Colourful glassware is a simple decorative addition, while hanging lanterns brings in an exotic note.
9. Patio-up a balcony
If you have a balcony, you can still reap all the benefits of a patio. It may be small, but there’s usually room for a table. If you can, squeeze in a café-style design with a couple of chairs – the perfect spot for a nice cuppa/glass of wine. Surround yourself with potted plants and keep a filled watering can close by for easy top-ups through the summer months. As well as being a lovely space in its own right, a well-tended balcony can be a splendid sight viewed from inside your home.
10. Add comfort to a bench with throws and cushions
Turn your garden into an outdoor living room and your bench into a sofa by bringing out quilts, blankets and scatter cushions galore. If you’re going to spend any time sitting, it’s great to have the added comfort – giving you even longer to enjoy the view of your immaculately maintained garden.
11. Hang up a herb garden
If you are short on space, lift those pots up high. Hang hooks over a garden fence or secure to a brick wall if you have nothing overhead to hang on to. These pretty planters are perfect for creating a mini herb garden. Keep them close to your house so you can pop out of the kitchen to grab a handful when cooking. Keep well watered and move to the shade on hot sunny days.
12. Tie up curtains for a homemade gazebo
Turn an awning into a gazebo by hanging up curtain panels. Go for tie-top designs that are easy to attach and a pretty garden-inspired fabric like this modern blue floral. Brilliant for outdoor occasions and screening eating areas from sun and wind – your guests will love you. PS, we know strictly speaking this is a garden, but the idea would definitely work well on a patio, too.
Brightening up your patio needn’t be hard work and some of these easy patio ideas will take just a few minutes to do. We hope you have fun in the sun.