Patio Planning

Author: Lauren Coleman

In my spring goals post I banged on about our plans to craft a patio area at the bottom of the garden. Well so far it’s not going too well as I have zero inspiration for how I want the space to be. Well I do, it’s just that Pinterest is ruining all my plans.

Here are several before shots of the space. The plan is to keep the backdrop of shrubs but remove the firepit and boy scout campfire style seating leaving an area for a largish patio decked with loungers, outdoor sofas or some other form of seating.

We’ve had a chat about a raised deck area but discounted it as can’t be bothered with the maintenance. I had grand plans for a sunken patio but James is less keen so this brings me on to the standard patio plan.
These photos were taken about 5pm and you’ll notice the large shadow of the tree coming in from the left hand side. I know it seems sacrilege but our neighbours tell us the tree is too close to the house so we’ve decided to get it cut down so we get the last of the evening light here.

Let’s all start by looking at the ruddy gorgeous backyard of one of my style crushes, Sarah Sherman Samuel. While I’m not going to be lucky enough to get a bougainvillaea anywhere near my Northamptonshire plot, I was thinking with my tall shrubs coupled with a pergola would make a poor man’s equivalent.

However you’ll notice Sarah’s area is somewhat bordered on one side by a wall decked in the green stuff and on the other she’s created a partition with a row of potted plants. I’m worried mine is going to look a little bit, well, plonked. With so much of my inspiration stemming from patios leading from the house or nestled against walls I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. I also think adding another pergola so close to our other one might be overkill too so the current plan looks a little bit like this:

  • Level off the area as it’s on a bit of a wonk
  • Trim back the shrubs so we don’t lose too much of the lawn
  • Add a curved patio edged in something fancy so it doesn’t just drop off into the grass
  • Either side of the new patio, remove some of the lawn to create curved shaped beds, edged in the same way as the patio and fill them with low maintenance shrubs
  • Add in a winding path from the current pergola up to the new patio
  • Add a very simple wooden or metal structure above strung with fairy lights or festoons

I’m well aware that last year we had grand plans for the patio near the house. There was even talk of an outdoor kitchen but all we actually got round to doing was adding a bin store. Super glam. I’m hoping this year we can be more productive.

As always I’ve got my eyes on the prize and have already been checking out potential seating options such as this beaut of a wicker outdoor sofa from Maisons Du Monde or maybe some form of combo of the Ikea Applaro sofas. I’m in love with the M&S Melrose Sofa but it’s a bit out of my price range so we are looking into either customising something ourselves or maybe even building in-built seating.
I’ve ordered another string of the Next festoon lights I had last year. They’ve got terrible reviews though so I hope they haven’t changed supplier as I loved the ones from last summer.
Hopefully I’ll have some progress to share and in the meantime feel free to check out my Pinterest board with some of the ideas I’m hoping to incorporate.

Anyone else embarking on a garden project? Any bright ideas for my patio? Please let me know if you’ve created anything similar and how you approached the planning stage.


Styled Patio Images via Sarah Sherman Samuel.

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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21 thoughts on “Patio Planning

  1. A sunken patio would have been epic Lauren but I can totally understand why James might be a bit reluctant having seen the huge pile of soil dug out for our standard patio. You can achieve a similar effect with some raised planting though. Our patio is away from the house as well as that’s where we catch the last of the evening sun and while I was a bit worried about not being as convenient it does give the garden a great focal point and in a way it didn’t make sense to have essentially another dining are right next to our dining room. One of the best things we’ve done with ours was running power down the garden and adding some uplights around the patio. That way we can enjoy the garden even from the inside (and plug a sonos speaker in). Also adding a small tree definitely helped to give our otherwise simple garden some interest and anchor the patio in a bit – even though I don’t think you’ve got that problem with your lovely mature garden. I’m now really wanting pergola too but a bit worried about creating too much shade – a very simple one like in your inspo images would probably do the trick and I could add more festoon lights which is always a plus. I’ve got a few garden pics on my instagram under #simmonsgardenproject if you fancy a look. Can’t wait to see what you come up with as the courtyard at your last house was amazing (I’m still trying to figure out where I could plant some pleached trees after seeing yours).

    1. Kat, I love your uplighters and your little play house!
      Oh those pleached trees I do miss them and wonder how they’re getting on in their third year (sob). We had epic lighting in the old courtyard too. Thanks for reminding me to look at having uplighters again x

  2. That patio *heart eyes*!
    We were lucky when we moved in two years ago that the landscaping had already been done for a raised patio at the bottom of the garden. We’ve planted a bamboo in the corner to add interest and texture and raised lights are dotted around the edge, which is lovely at night (when we finally get to sit outside….summer, where are you?) We’ve also managed to grow quite a few David Austin roses that act as a border to the one side that smell incredible and give it a secret garden kind of feel!
    I *may* be popping those festoon lights in my trolley however…

  3. We inherited a lovely Pergola however unfortunately the clematis that had grown all over it had died so there are just a lot of twigs which is such a shame. Forever hoping we can grow something again so it looks as beautiful as those pictures! We got the Ikea sofas last year and they have worn so well and look so lovely in the garden, so I’m definitely a fan xx

    1. Definitely just cut the clematis right back to the ground – I thought I had killed mine but it came back a treat the same year with some late flowers. It can grow super fast.

  4. Sarah T! Cut your clematis back and it might just flourish for you! I cut all the woody bits back each year and gain lots of new growth again in the spring! We too have just moved and gained a large paved area, but like you are trying to anchor our seating area. What I’m doing until we have firm plans is moving my pots around to get a feel for how the area would feel depending on how we closed it in with planting. I don’t want to make permanent changes with hard landscaping until I’m sure of what I want! I agree about walls making it much easier, our last house had tiny walled back yard and it was easy to make it feel like a little secret garden with loads of climbers. For now I’m focussing on planting key trees and shrubs that I know I need for privacy and interest so they have maximum time to establish, and taking my time with the smaller details. Half the fun is in the planning. Your garden is beautiful – have fun planning ur little nook! Some pics of my endeavours on Instagram @sunnysundaymornings

    1. Sarah T, I second Laura and Kat – similarly my passion flower looked like it had given up but I cut it right back to the lowest pair of roots and so far so good.

  5. Can’t wait to see your patio when it’s finished Lauren. A sunken one would have been amazing, but I’d have drainage concerns if it was in my garden. Practicality is such a pain sometimes! Can we have a post on which ‘low maintenance shrubs’ you plan to choose please? I definitely need advice in this area. 🙂

  6. Hi Lauren,

    Hmmm I see what you mean about looking ‘plonked’. The existing fire pit certainly does. Looking at your image top left, would the sunny space to the left of your existing pergola, tucked into the side be a better location?? That way you could incorporate your patio into the existing steps so it wraps around in a backwards L shape. You could then make a feature of the patio/connection to house with similar paving etc, and its not so far to go when you’re carrying a tray of drinks out of the house. You could even then extend the existing pergola out and over the new patio area. Just a thought.

    1. I really like this idea Emma, especially as it will join the existing patio together. The only problem is if I remember rightly after the longest day, that area is in shade from pretty much 5pm because of the shadow cast from the pergola and the tree.

      1. Hmm, could it go to the other side and then would be in the sun? I think that’s what it needs, something to join the two areas together.

  7. Have you thought about composite decking that doesn’t need as much care and attention as traditional wood decking? Plus you can get it made from recycleable goods so also sustainable. Arbordeck do a composite deck range called trex, might be worth looking at.

  8. “On a bit of a wonk” – hilarious!

    Love these inspiration pictures – that is stunning! We’re in the process of buying and selling houses and I am really looking forward to doing the garden so I am very intrigued and look forward to seeing your progress! X

  9. Love the inspiration pics Lauren and looking forward to having a peak on your Pinterest! I have in mind a similar project in our garden. I want somewhere for lounging and would ideally love the cox and cox double lounger but cannot justify the money so potentially thinking of building something out of pallets. I also want some sort of structure but not a pergola as such, something softer. I love this but way out of my price range
    Look forward to seeing what you come up with and copying some ideas hopefully 😉 xx

  10. You could look at the festoon lights made by a Swedish company called Konst Smide – they aren’t solar but they are great and really rubust.

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