Patio Pavers, Decking, and Natural Elements: Striking The Right Balance
Make your backyard a perfect patio experience with the right balance of pavers and natural elements like trees, gardens and grass.
My childhood was spent on large grassy lawns, large enough to hold a swimming pool and a swing set. Because of the architecture of my area, people tended to have elevated wooden patios, rather than ground-level paved patios. This meant that you could go for an entire summer without ever really touching grass, going from inside, to the patio, to the pool.
But there is something to say for the elegance of a ground-level patio with beautiful paver patterns. To me, it feels more connected and integrated to the landscape; a function of the yard rather than of the house. But it’s also easy to get enthusiastic and pave everything: the path from the house to the patio, a little side area… and soon enough there’s no more backyard and lots of pavers.
As it goes with most landscaping, balance is the secret to a beautiful backyard. If you plan on adding patio pavers to your backyard this year, consider these handy tips to make sure that you balance the practical, human elements and the natural environment.
Have a bird’s eye view
The first thing you should do is develop a bird’s eye view of your yard. See it from above rather than from the side. (This is the right time to ask your friend with a drone to bring it by and take pictures from the air!) Are there any unused sections of the yard? Places that have been walked smooth by dozens of pairs of feet? Have a feel for the general layout of your space.
A bird’s eye view is also much easier to put down on paper. Making a plan of your yard is just as useful as making a plan of your home–so start there.
Grass, trees, patio, garden
A well-balanced backyard should have space for both human uses and natural space. Start with what you have: trees can be a source of shade for your patio in the heat of the summer sun. A sunny corner can serve as garden space for plants that do well in all-day sun like flowers, herbs or vegetables.
Once you’ve noted good spots for shade, semi-shade and full sun, you have a good idea of what you can plant where. Your patio should be in a spot that’s practical, but also that doesn’t take away good spots for planting.
A good ratio
It’s good to keep a nice ratio of grass or other groundcover. Too many garden beds, bushes and plants can make your yard feel cramped and busy. But there’s nothing wrong with using a portion of the ground for practical uses–fruit trees, vegetable garden, herbs, etc. Of course, the more gardens, the more maintenance and work it requires! Make sure to only plant as much as you can handle.
Go with the flow
Take a walk around your backyard. Where do you come out of your house? Do you step right out on the yard or have to walk down some stairs? Is there a path from the front part of the house? A fence?
You want to set your patio pavers in a spot that is both practical for walking in and out of the house (think of the summer parties!) and that balances with the other elements of your yard. Setting it in an area surrounded by thick bushes or lots of flowers isn’t the best idea. But an empty corner can seem just… empty. Make sure it’s a spot that gets sun, but also where it’s possible to sit in the shade if needed.
There should be space around the patio tiles to move around, but a few flowers and plants are nice to keep around. Opt for planters rather than garden beds to avoid trampling by inattentive feet. Make sure people can easily walk onto and off the patio area to reach the pool, garden, house or other areas of interest.
The last idea I have for you is to look into adding interesting patterns to your pavers. Use different size and colors of stones and be inspired by your environment. Does your patio area really need to be a perfect square or rectangle? How about a leaf or a pond-like shape? There’s a lot around you to inspire your patio design!
Your outdoor space
How would you judge your current balance between pavers, decking, and natural surfaces and elements in your own outdoor living space? What surfaces have you always wanted to incorporate into your yards? What’s been some of the challenges you’ve had in getting there? Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.