How Patio Planning Goes from Overwhelming to Fun and Easy

beautiful example of successful patio planningIf you’re in the process of patio planning, even if you’ve only just begun your research, then you may have already realized that there’s a lot involved. There are so many different factors in play and a big range of choices when it comes to patio materials and even patio builders (all with different price ranges), and you might feel terribly overwhelmed.

If you are going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new patio, you want it to be perfect. It ought to not only look nice but should not have ongoing problems with it either. You should be able to create a patio that meets your needs and doesn’t have you wondering if you wasted your money.

We understand that patio planning can be stressful—but it’s also an exciting addition and you ought to be able to have some fun with it. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the questions that should be asked as you start to create your perfect patio plans.

 

What Will the Main Use of the Patio Be?

When formulating patio plans that will work for your space, it can be incredibly helpful to know how it’s going to be used on a regular basis. Sure, you’ll have special events and parties, but in terms of the everyday use, what will you be doing?

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Will you be preparing and eating family meals outside? Are you looking for a space where you can lounge by the pool (now or in your future)? Or, is the patio more of a spot where you plan to hang out after dinner and could see yourself enjoying social time by a fire pit?

As you dream about what you want your patio to be, it’s helpful to also dream about how you see yourself using it. This will guide you in making the best choices in terms of everything from its size to its layout and even what features you might add on.

 

Who is Typically Using Your Patio, and How Often?

Along with how you’ll use your patio, you’ll also want to think about who you’ll use it with. Is it a space for your immediate family only or do you have neighbors that come over several times a week?

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Do you have regular gatherings that take place at your home? What is the number of people that you will entertain on average for both a small and a larger size gathering? Again, thinking about these factors in advance will help you to make important decisions regarding the patio plans that are best for you and your needs.

 

What Are the Ages of Patio Users?

As you think about how will be regularly using your space, think about their ages and the needs that come along with those ages. For instance, if you have young children or grandchildren (your own or someone else’s) that will be regularly using the space, then you might be thinking about factors like safety or being set up for playing. If there are older children that will be using the space, then you might be thinking about hang-out spots and encouraging the kids to “stay put” at your house where you can maintain a closer eye.

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Of course, you might not have children using the space at all. Instead, perhaps, you are thinking about elderly relatives that visit regularly or maybe you’re even concerned about your own aging and how the space will be usable for you. There’s no doubt that age is an important consideration when it comes to patio planning.

 

What Will be the Primary Time of Use?

Time of use also makes a difference in the features that could make your patio space more comfortable and more functional. For instance, if you’ll also use your patio in the evening hours, then you’ll definitely want to consider landscape lighting. If you’ll often be using your patio in the heat of the day, and you’ll be right in the sun, then you’ll also want to consider options for shade, such as a pavilion or pergola.\

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Chances are, you’ll be using your patio at multiple different times and therefore want to consider multiple options to ensure that your space is usable no matter when.

 

What Patio Furniture Will Be Used?

It might sound obvious but you’d be surprised just how often the desired patio furniture is not given any thought prior to a patio build. But when patio contractors fail to ask about the furniture you’ll be using on your patio, then it’s possible to design the space in a way that the furniture won’t fit.

patio with beautiful furniture

Just because you have a six-person dining set right now, maybe you’re planning to fit an eight- or ten-person set on your future patio, or even additional tables. But if you don’t plan the layout and sizing of the patio to accommodate this change, you could be sorely disappointed. We’ve seen finished patios where the chair legs are falling off the edge  because another landscape designer didn’t think to discuss this.

 

What are Your Hobbies?

Are you or your spouse really into cooking—so much so that you’d really enjoy a space with a kitchen and cool cooking appliances? Or, is your hobby quoits or horseshoes, and you love the idea of a game area right off of the patio? Maybe you really love the idea of adding some great music or watching sporting events when you’re in your outdoor space.

patio designed with outdoor audio in PA

The fact is, your hobbies are important to you and you want an outdoor space that will accommodate them. But patio builders who are only focused on giving you a cookie-cutter patio simply aren’t going to take your hobbies into account when planning your space. By making sure that your favorite forms of entertainment are considered in the patio plans, you can make the outdoor living space your own.

 

What are Some of the Special Events in the Future?

There’s no question that special uses of the space will impact who is there and how it’s being used. If you’re planning on hosting special events in your future like a graduation party or a bridal shower, it can be helpful to discuss those events and how your new patio can best accommodate them. After all, the perfect space can make your event that much more spectacular.

 

Do You Have Future Plans for the Space?

When it comes to a complex outdoor living project, you might be thinking about incorporating the plans in phases. For instance, while you might plan to have the patio installed right away so that you can start using it, you may plan to add an outdoor kitchen or even a pavilion at a later date.

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This is important to know upfront as running lines for gas-powered appliances in the kitchen and installing footers for the pavilion should be done during the initial patio construction so that you don’t have to come back and dig up your patio later.

 

Will You Be Selling Your Home or Staying Put?

Certainly, you can’t predict the future. But chances are, you have some idea as to whether you’re going to be staying in this home for five, ten, or even twenty years down the road or if selling is in your future. This is important information as it can impact the patio design.

For instance, if you know you’re moving in five years, you may want to focus on something simpler that will meet your needs and help with resale value, but won’t cost you too much since you may be building another patio at your new home in the future. Or, if you know this is your forever home, then you may want to go all out and build the patio of your dreams. The distinction is important.

 

What Styles Do You Prefer?

While most of these questions have addressed functionality so far, your personal style preferences are really important as well. After all, it’s your space and you ought to love it. Unfortunately, some patio contractors will push a cookie-cutter design on you.

Instead, you want something that is truly your own.

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Personal preferences will affect everything from the shape of the patio to the materials used. The planning process should cover what you like and dislike from other patios you have seen. Looking at patio pictures is a great way to start honing in on what’s best for your patio plans.

 

Choosing Patio Builders in Lancaster, PA and Surrounding Areas

outdoor-kitchen-flagstone-patio-boulders-6You have good reason to be concerned that you may end up with a patio builder who won’t help see your vision come to life the way you really want it to. After all, the truth is, typical patio companies don’t ask all of these questions or focus on all of these details. They have you pick out a general size and choose materials, and then they start building. They simply aren’t known for understanding deeper details beyond this.

Unfortunately, this ordinary approach can make a huge impact on the return on investment and on the return on entertainment that you’ll get out of the space.

Instead, you can make the choice to work with a company that goes far beyond just size and materials and really digs into all of the details we’ve talked about here. These details matter! Not only will they make the patio planning process more fun, but they’ll help ensure that you end up with a space that you truly love.

Don’t get stuck with a patio that falls short of your dreams. Choose your patio contractor wisely and gain the peace of mind that your finished patio will be spectacular.

If you’d like to start a conversation about your perfect patio at your Reading, Lancaster, York, Lebanon, or Hershey, PA home, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at 717-276-9447.

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Paul Squierdo - Landscape Designer

Written by Paul Squierdo - Landscape Designer

Paul brings nearly 20 years of landscape industry experience to the ETW team both from the landscape architecture and design/build arenas. Paul obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Pennsylvania State University which entailed studying for a semester abroad in Rome, Italy. Between his professional design background and hands on experience in landscape construction/management, Paul brings a balanced approach of maintaining function, while incorporating custom tailored aesthetics to each unique outdoor project and design.