Outdoor Patio Designs

Two Level Patio with Pergola

Here is a very successful design showing a two level patio. I chose to design it this way since there was a change in elevation. There are different ways to approach grade differences when designing

a patio. This is not the only method for outdoor patio designs, but it worked well here and the clients requested this if possible.

The patio is designed so that one would step out of the house from two different rooms via sliding glass doors. They would step onto an upper patio, go down three steps and then be on the lower patio. There are another three steps taking them down to ground level from the lower patio. At first you don't realize it, but there are actually a total of 6 steps, which take up a change in elevation of about three feet. Each riser is about 6" high.

Patio Steps and Safety

Different townships have different regulations regarding the number of steps you can have without a railing. However, all of them that I have had dealings with allow you to use deep planters in place of railings. How wide should the planters be? You need about 12" for an outside wall. You also need enough space for plants. I like to use an absolute minimum of 18". More is better if you have the room…24" to 36" is a good depth.

A Pergola For Architectural Interest and Shade

The pergola here extends over the entire upper patio. When designing the size and shape of a pergola, consider your windows and where the pergola will end. You don't want it to end in the middle of a window or door. At the same time, it needs to be deep enough to create the shade you want. (See the section on Pergolas below.)

Planting Trees in The Patio

This is something fun to do if you need shade and have the space. Allow for enough area to walk around the tree. Also, the cutout around the tree should be at least 4 feet in diameter to allow for growth.

Hardscape Materials

The clients used bluestone for the patio. It was set in concrete and geometric shapes were chosen. The walls and step risers were brick. The treads were bluestone. Although the brick of the wall was beautiful, I still added some plants in front to soften it a bit.

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