Tips for Choosing the Right Size for Your Patio
Whether the main purpose of your patio space is relaxation, outdoor dining, or large gatherings, these tips will help you pinpoint just how much room you’ll need.
What determines the perfect size for a patio? The ultimate goal is to make it large enough to accommodate the activities on your planning list. For example, if you intend to host large groups of people, a larger area will be required for dining, as opposed to a simple bistro set.
Here’s how to plan, test the site, and utilize the space to best effect:
Begin Simple — With a Sketch
Start by drawing it out and assigning each activity its own space on the patio. Make sure to allow plenty of room for the activity itself, any furniture required, and traffic flow through and around the area.
If your current plan isn’t big enough, either expand it or find ways for different areas to serve double duty. For example, maybe a corner of the dining space could also be used as a private relaxation area. In many cases, simply moving a chair can add privacy to a small part of a larger space.
Next, try to give each zone its own personality. Use elements like trellises, benches, planters, or differing decking patterns to separate areas physically and visually. For an even stronger distinction, make structural changes. A T-shaped patio or a multi-level patio where each level is connected by steps allows you to naturally divide spaces.
Test the Intended Site
To check whether your proposed patio is large enough, try roping off the intended area or sectioning it off with chalk or spray paint. Then arrange the furniture and equipment you’ll have on the patio in the marked off space.
If you don’t have the furniture yet, substitute with interior furnishings and add on about a foot more space for each item. Figure in an extra 2 feet square for each outdoor chair, in addition to about a foot or two to push away from a table.
Once you find that the patio is large enough to accommodate your intended activities, take a step back and observe its scale. You want it to look proportional to the house and surrounding yard. A small patio is most likely not going to pose a problem, as they’re not typically built next to big homes. More likely is a large patio that overwhelms a moderate-sized home.
To summarize, start with a patio design that encompasses all the uses you imagine, then adjust it to fit your budget and terrain. Once the size of the patio is finalized, draw your plan on paper.
Match Function to Footage
Despite having plenty of square footage, many patios end up feeling cramped because they were planned without taking traffic and activity into account. Here are a few general guidelines to help you avoid this issue:
- Dining space: You will need about 10×10 feet to accommodate a dining space for four people. For six to eight people, increase it to 12×12.
- Round table: If you have a round table with six chairs, plan for a circular space with a diameter of at least 9 feet.
- Rectangular table: An area 5 to 6 feet wider and longer than the table is required for a rectangular table.
- Cooking space: A basic cooking space made up of a grill and a small side table typically needs a space about 6 feet square. More space is required if there will be a large table, counter or island.
- Reclining chair: A single reclining chair needs an area about 4×7 feet.
- Conversation space: A 10×10-foot space is required for a conversation area for three to six people.
- Walkways: Whether from the door to the stairs or between activity areas, all walkways should be 3 to 4 feet wide.