Patio Primer – “Patios are like icebergs. What is underneath is more important that what is on top” Anna Pavord.
With the glorious sunshine of the last few weeks, no doubt you are now luxuriating on your outdoor lounging furniture and enjoying the odd fabulous weekend lunch on your well-loved patio furniture. Take a moment though to consider the surface on which your furniture is standing. You can have the most expensive rattan garden furniture in the world, but if you set it on a cheap or uneven surface, it will never create the atmosphere you are looking for.
Patio Primer – Foundations. Ensure that you have a layer of hardcore at least 10cm deep, topped with sand and shingle in order to create a relatively flat surface for any paving slabs that are to go on top. Aim for the finished level of the patio to be at least 15cm below the damp course of your house – or create at gap of 7.5cm between the patio and the house wall, to be filled with gravel or pebbles.
Patio Primer – Drainage. Ideally, any water that might collect on the patio should run off harmlessly into the garden, not towards the house.
Patio Primer – Texture. Concrete may be the cheapest option for an outside space but it looks it. Coloured concrete looks even worse! Use colour with care – if you go for a chequerboard of slabs in say pink, green and grey, you will find it an uncompromising pattern to live with.
Far better to inject colour through plants and containers which can be changed seasonally and shown to their best against a plain background. If you are choosing paving slabs, go for those with some texture (known in the trade as riven slabs). They won’t weather like caramel or crumble like brick but they look pleasing. The key thing is to harmonise the texture and colour of whatever you use with the other materials around the patio.
My personal favourite is brick since you can lie these in many different patterns to great effect such as basket weave and herringbone. However, old bricks do weather and not everyone likes the shabby chic look that I aspire to.
Patio Primer – Wood. If you want decking, remember that wood is not as durable as caramel or brick, and that it will need to be treated carefully. The great advantage of decking is that it can span an uneven surface.
Patio Primer – Size. If you are planning a patio for scratch you will need to bear in mind the size of the garden in which it is set. More often a patio is too small for its environment than the other way around. Do bear in mind the size and shape of your precious outdoor furniture too.
Remember, the point of a patio is to use it not just have it.