Elements for great patio design

Elements for great patio design

South Africans have warm, wonderful weather for most of the year and it’s one of the reasons why we spend the spring and summer months outdoors. A garden, whether small or large, can be designed to accommodate a patio area – or garden room - that becomes a personal sanctuary and an extension of indoor living space.
A patio or garden room doesn’t have to be overly complicated as long as it provides a shady spot to sit and relax with family and friends and there are plenty of ways to build a patio that suits your budget and your lifestyle. We put together some helpful tips on essential elements and useful ideas to plan and build your own patio, or have a patio built for you.




Reclaimed materials are probably one of the most affordable ways to build a patio or garden room. Even if you only use reclaimed timber for framing, this can save you lots on the cost of materials. While the garden room above is constructed using a variety of reclaimed materials, the overall look is romantic and rustic. A fibreglass sheet roof provides shade during the hottest part of the day and protects the room from the elements. Wide doorways and windows allow a cool breeze to circulate and refresh.




A contemporary take on the traditional gazebo, this steel structure creates a dramatic feature in a small garden and serves as the perfect gathering spot for entertaining. Mild steel will rust over time and add a patina or age and colour to the steel.




A steel framework is covered with climbing roses to provide a romantic patio for two in a corner of the garden. If your garden already has a large shade tree you could consider building a patio under the canopy for a cool, shady retreat.

Planting climbing plants allows you to design a patio that becomes an integral part of a small garden and allows you to take in the sights and scents of a garden up-close and personal.




Casual and comfortable… split pole beams mounted on surrounding walls are covered with grass mats to provide cool respite from the midday sun. A comfortable day bed made from reclaimed wood offers a place to relax and while away the day. Whitewashed wood planks form a raised deck in a concrete courtyard.




Building a pergola is a reasonably simple process if you have the tools and DIY savvy. Love this pergola on concrete pillars. You could substitute with concrete pipes as a more affordable option. This cosy patio area overflows with style, from the suspended chandelier to the comfortable wrought iron chairs and wooden table.

Incorporating plants, either surrounding or on a patio, will allow you to introduce colour and texture, as well as scented varieties that will enhance your outdoor experience.

Click here to tips on building an easy pergola.




Light and refreshing… this colourful Mediterranean style patio is draped with jewel-hued bourgainvillea. The blue windows and trellis panels mounted on wooden beams create a relaxing spot outdoors where you can relax and unwind on evenings or weekend.

Visit our Easy DIY garden board for more ideas and inspiration for your patio.




Furniture makes all the difference on any patio. Whether you opt for resin, wicker or wood furniture. Choose outdoor furniture that not only complements the style of your outdoor patio, but is also comfortable and durable. On an open patio a small fire pit or brazier will warm up the surrounding area on cooler evenings and make the space a gathering place.

Incorporate large tropical plants on a concrete or paved patio. The lush foliage with soften the atmosphere and enhance a contemporary or modern patio design.




Spend more time outdoors by setting up an area that has plenty of space to invite family and friends around for a braai or outdoor dining, or where you can sit and enjoy afternoon tea with the girls. Wooden beams mounted on brick plastered pillars are an easy solution for creating a covered patio that can be used all year round. 

Add personality and style to your patio but don’t forget to incorporate lighting for evenings. Solar or low-voltage lighting is important to illuminate and add ambiance.




More home owners are looking at hardscapes as an alternative to high maintenance lawns and beds. Stone pavers and zero-maintenance cast concrete benches provide plenty of comfortable seating, while succulents and hardy creepers soften hard edges. This type of space-saving design is ideal for smaller gardens. A portable umbrella can be moved around to provide necessary shade on hot summer days. Colourful cushions in orange and blue bring life and personality to the space.




Where a patio is situated to extend your living space outdoors, decorate the space as you would your home interior. Take elements from indoors and bring them onto the patio to create a link between indoors and outdoors. Soft furnishings and drapes will not only dress up an outdoor patio, they also assist in turning a bland outdoor area into a relaxing room where you want to spend more time.




A patio or garden room doesn’t necessarily have to be placed right outside the door. A well placed garden room creates a private retreat in a large garden. However, if you plan to use your patio for regular outdoor dining it’s probably better to position as close to the kitchen as possible.

A covered patio provides shade and visually encloses the area. You have a wide variety of options to choose from depending on your budget. A simple pergola-style frame will suffice if you only want to filter the sun and cover the space, while a natural covering such a bamboo, grass thatch or branches will provide a cool, shady spot. However, if you plan to use the space as an extended living area, look at the options for building a full-on roof over your patio.


Janice Anderssen