Choosing the surface material : The most common surface for a patio are paving slabs. There are many different types of paving slab with a wide range of price tags. Steer clear of concrete slabs - they are often more expensive than natural stone, will fade over time and always end up looking fake. Indian Sandstone has dominated the paving slab market for years as it is cheap, natural, widely available and looks good.
Intended use of the patio : Decide how you want to use the patio. Is the patio mainly for alfresco dining or sunbathing or relaxing with a book or all three? The intended use will dictate the size and location of the patio. A patio mainly for dining is best placed where there is some shade so that diners can keep cool on warmer days and seek the sun when the weather is cooler. A patio intended mainly for sunbathing needs to be in a spot where it's sunny all day. If you want young children to safely use the patio, it needs to be somewhere you can see them from the house.
Location of the patio : Most patios are sited immediately adjacent to the rear exit from the house because it is convenient - this may not be the best location for your patio. The back of the house may be shaded all day and therefore not ideal if you wish to like to sit in the sun. Consider a small terrace to the rear of the house with another seating area somewhere else in the garden which gets more sun. When designing a garden it's a good idea to include more than one patio.. One patio can be sited so that it catches the last of the evening sun to provide a warm spot for an evening drink or meal. This makes the garden much more interesting and ensures that you are using more of the garden.
Decide on the budget : Installing a patio is expensive but it is worth spending as much as you can afford as the patio is such an important part of the garden. The garden should be viewed as an outdoor room and if you are prepared to spend a little extra on getting it right it will be useable for most of the year. Allow around £120 per square metre as an all-in cost to get a contractor to lay your patio.