Introducing Our Patio

Posted by PicasaClick on the collage to see a larger image if wanted
Clockwise from top left:
1. Looking East 2. Circle & brick detail 3. Looking West
4. Wall top detail 5. House brick colours 6. Edging detail
7. Central steps up to patio 8. Wall top & edging detail
9. Central steps entrance pillar detail + accessories

At the end of last month I discovered Gardening Gone Wild and their Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop. I've been meaning to introduce our garden's design to you for a while and this month's theme of Porches, Decks and Patios is a good place to start. I haven't really shown you our main patio before, though there have been some glimpses - the most recent was my introductory piece for this month's Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day, featuring one of our patio benches.

I thought I'd share with you some of the thought processes that went into the final product. We moved here in 1999 to a complete blank canvas as the house was newly built. All we had was a 15 metre (approx 50 feet) square garden, newly turfed except for a line of paviors across the back next to the house and some steps set into a steep bank about a third of the way in. The garden's on a slope (about 1 in 10), so initially we weren't quite sure where to start, but knew that the slope gave us the potential to put together a good design with a 'wow factor'

So we sat just looking at it and scratching our heads for a year, often sitting on the steps to get the feel of being in the middle of it all. The builders had made a large flat area next to the house cut diagonally across the garden. That helped us to make our first couple of decisions - to keep most of the flat area as the patio and to retain its diagonal line. We also knew we'd need to retain the steps to get us to the next level of the garden - in fact we ended up with 3 sets of steps from the patio, so we could have 'a journey' round the garden. Step sitting's still one of my favourite places (especially at dusk when the bats are out), in spite of the many inviting places we have on the patio itself now. With those ideas in mind, I put together many rough sketches (back of fag packet more like) to discuss with NAH. Finally we were both happy with one of them, but knew the amount of construction work involved needed us to GAMI (get a man in) - I'll cover how we chose him in another post.

The drawing we got back from our chosen GAMI, not only took our design, but improved it. It was his idea to put the S curve into the patio's shape. Next we had to think about materials - our house is mainly red brick with yellow brick details, so we thought it would be good to reverse those colours for the patio. We chose a pavior that's close in colour to both the yellow brickwork and the big chunks of local stone we keep finding in our soil, with a small red 'cobble' plus a red brick for contrast. As the patio is so large (Across the whole width of the garden and 27 feet at its widest point, tapering to a mere 6 and a half feet at the other end), I thought we needed to break up the expanse a little using a several pavior sizes set randomly throughout the area and I also liked the idea of an inset circle in the widest part. We also decided to have a low dividing wall between the patio and the next part of the garden - the terrace bedding either side of the central steps. It was GAMI's idea to add the pillars at each side. Finally, we added just one small planting area (GAMI had suggested several initially) at the eastern end, to enable me to grow strawberries and herbs (this was pre allotment days) plus some climbers up the wall of next door's garage. 8 years on we're still happy with the final result of this and the garden's overall design. I now feel very differently about the planting though and having put this post together I think I need to clean the patio!

Apologies for the continued centralised formatting - this is my first photo composition blogged from Picasa and I haven't been able to override the formatting to get it to the left for the text.


  1. The stairs look very grand! You are right though, a change of level and a sense of journey always makes a garden more interesting, and also appear larger than they are. Looks like your GAMI did a good job for you, but I wouldn't clean it if it were mine, I love the lichens and the patterns they make.

  2. VP ...This is absolutely gorgeous !
    I'm afraid we would have to win a lottery before we could afford something as detailed and wonderful as this though. BUT .. if I were to follow anyone's plan pro or not .. I think yours is the best I have ever seen !
    Now you have me aiming for the sky ? LOL
    I have to go over to "Slide" site too because I really like your presentation with that method ..
    I'll just take all your ideas if you don't mind please ? LOL

  3. VP, Your patio is beautiful! I like the inset circle; it really adds some interest to the whole effect. With your busy schedule, I wonder how much time you get to spend out here--it would be a wonderful place to relax in the evening, not to mention entertain.

  4. Simply gorgeous! The detailing is wonderful & it all looks so right with the house. BTW - VIS & I just listened to the radio broadcast of your choir. (We're both big fans of choral singing.) Your group sounded great. We had to laugh at the bit after it about having the news staff flogged for misplacing a town.

  5. Your patio looks amazing - I love the choice of bricks and the central stairs. The circle was a wonderful idea. I like the idea of you sitting on the steps ... a good thinking spot.

  6. What a gorgeous patio! I love everything about it.

  7. I love reading about how people design their gardens. Having always had London gardens, thus inheriting vast, overgrown shrubs and other people's trees, I always feel envious of people who start with a blank canvas. But you've made me realise it can be quite daunting to start from scratch, especially with a square garden where you have to work so hard to give it a sense of mystery. It looks lovely: you'd never guess the garden is less than 20 years old.

  8. How wonderful that you really took your time to decide what you wanted, and how lucky that you were able to find a professional who was sensitive enough to appreciate your vision and even improve on it. The results are stunning. I particularly like the mix of materials and how they complement what you already had. The patio looks like it's always been there!

  9. Picasa-

    How elegant everything turned out. Your subtle use of different stones is excellent. They complement your home beautifully. I do understand your love of steps....I'm a nut about them myself. Thanks for sharing your's a terrific one! Fran

  10. I really like the steps. I got my garden completely levelled at the back this spring, having for many years had a step up as a result of the air raid shelter. I thought about having posh steps but I just couldn't stop myself fantasising about the huge flat space.... and i am really happy to have it. But steps would have been nice... with more room... Victoria and I have exactly the same problem...

    Brick circle is niiiice too, very Miss Jekyll!

  11. Like Victoria we've always moved into an existing house and yard - it's very interesting to read how you made your patio.

    Pretty stone stairs do make people feel secure and invite step-sitting - how pretty, Veg Plotting!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  12. Zoe - I leave the brickwork for exactly that reason, but the paving tends to look mucky. It's a good compromise!

    Joy - well we spent so long looking at what to do we were able to save up. I also planted lots of cuttings and sowed seeds when it came to doing the planting

    Rose - I love sitting out there and yes we can fit quite a crowd on there :)

    MMD - thanks AND a big thank you for listening to our choir. Everyone was chuffed to bits they'd been heard in Chicago :)

    Kate - you're right it's one of my favourite thinking spots

    Garden Girl - welcome and thanks!

    Victoria - thanks. Luckily our square's got a slope, so that helped a lot

    Nan - welcome and thanks a lot!

    Fran - welcome! I was initially daunted by the slope, but now I can't imagine a garden without steps somewhere

    Annie - hello! I suppose it's our equivalent of having a porch :)

  13. What a wonderful patio. I totally love the brickwork and something like that is what I dreamed of coating my driveway with. I was into stamped concrete for a while but ended up with advice not to do it 'cos the quality and the price are miles away. Being as disappointed as I am in our local GAMIs, I can't possibly imagine finding someone who would do a nice piece of brickwork without turning my yard into a battlefield and doing a lousy job. My compliments, and that inset circle is stunning. And I can totally relate to the step sitting....

  14. Hi Viooltje - so glad you like it! And step sitting is lovely...


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