White furniture and red flowers ?n the balcony

Make the most of your patio with these space saving tips

We all want our patio or deck to be comfortable and appealing – somewhere that we want to spend time relaxing or entertaining. But what if your patio is on the small side — how do you create a space that is attractive without compromising your room to move? To help you out, we’ve come up with some ingenious ideas for maximising space and making the most of your small patio.

1. What do you want your patio to be?

Relaxation area in a garden

A patio can be a place to sit and eat a meal or a place to lounge around and read a book.

Before you start planning the arrangement of your patio, ask yourself – what do I want my patio to be? – as this will determine how and with what you furnish and decorate. For example, do you mostly want to use the space to entertain? Or is your patio a space to exercise your green thumb? Possibly you’d like to achieve both and end up with an outdoor dining room surrounded with greenery.

Whatever your answer, use it as the basis for mapping out what is going to go where and how you’re going to fit it all together. And part of this process is thinking about the sun — what direction does your patio face and where does the sun fall at particular times? The answers to these questions have a significant impact on where you put things, whether it’s a dining table, outdoor lounge or a plant.

2. Space-saving foliage

A tiered or layered garden conserves space and can look amazing.

A tiered or layered garden conserves space and looks amazing.

We’d wager most people want a bit of greenery on their patio, even if it’s just a couple of well-kept Yuccas in ceramic pots. But for those who want to grow a mixture of herbs, veggies and flowers, there are some great ways you can achieve your patio garden and leave enough room to enjoy it.

Tiered planters are an excellent space-saver, providing heaps of growing room while taking advantage of your verticals — the patio balustrade or external walls. Similarly, a vertical garden is an inventive way to utilise your upright surfaces, and there are so many options available these days, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. And if not, get creative and make your own from recycled or upcycled materials. You’ll find heaps of tutorials on YouTube, as well as on how to build your own tiered planter.

Finally, there are always pots, which, when arranged in strategic collections of different sizes and heights, can effectively maximise both growing and living space.

3. Furnish without falling over

Wooden sofa with pillows, table and two chairs, ready for breakfast

A combination of bench seating and a table for two makes great use of a small space.

How you furnish your patio very much depends on how you plan to use it. If you want to create a space for meals — even if it’s just for you and your flat-mate or partner — think about things like leg and head room. You don’t want to be playing footsies on a permanent basis or ducking under your hanging pot plants.

If you have created a garden area, think about how you can position your table and chairs so it feels embraced by the greenery but not swamped. And think about shade, particularly if your patio is north or west facing. Most importantly, if this is the only furniture you can fit in your space, make sure your chairs are super comfortable. There’s no point designing your patio as a place to relax over a meal if you can’t sit still for more than five minutes.

Alternatively, you might want your patio to be more like an outdoor lounge room, and the key to achieving this in limited space is minimalism. More than likely, one comfy chair is all that will fit, so make sure it’s a good one. Position the chair in a corner, to make the most of your space, add a vinyl or canvas pouffe so you can put your feet up (it can double as an extra seat) and a small side table for books and drinks. Voila! You have your outdoor lounge without taking up your entire patio.

Finally, think about ways to decorate your patio that complement what’s already there, rather than taking up more space. Bright cushions, a pot plant as your table’s centerpiece, or fairy lights strung along the balustrade — all of these will add to the ambiance without crowding you out and help to make your small patio a delightful place to be.

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