Patios became popular in America during the 1950s, especially in the warmer regions of the West and southern states, like Florida. The patio became an essential component of the 'American dream', a scaled down version of the magnificent stone terraces of Europe.
While our homes are our castles, they're usually not quite on a scale with the old world palaces. Nonetheless, the purpose is much the same. It's a place to gather with friends and family in a relaxing and comfortable environment. There are probably as many patio landscaping ideas as there are patios. The best patio landscaping ideas are inspired by approaching the design and making it your own getaway spot in the garden, one that serves your purposes and lifestyle.
Looking through some of the garden design magazines is a good starting point. While you may not see the patio design of your dreams in any single home, you're sure to notice certain features of different patio designs that you really love. Perhaps a certain type of patio lighting will knock your socks off. You might see some paving stones that create just the ambience you want for your patio. Most home garden magazines have a directory at the back of the magazine that gives product manufacturers and details telling you where you can purchase the item. If not, and the article doesn't give the information, just tear out that page and make a little scrapbook to take with you to various vendors, who can help you match up with the right product for your needs.
Now that you have a sense of the look for your patio, it's time for more practical considerations. The functional aspect of your patio landscaping ideas plays a big part in how happy you'll be with your final design. If it looks like it belongs in a magazine, but doesn't suit your lifestyle, it doesn't work. For example, if you love to entertain, you'll want to consider the style and placement of patio furniture, including a dining table large enough to accommodate your family and guests. Do you enjoy the backyard barbecues? On the other hand, if you're looking for patio landscaping ideas that offer more privacy, with the patio serving as a little getaway spot when you want to kick back with a latte and a book, your patio furnishings might consist of a couple of chaise lounges and a small bistro table for two.
The patio should also provide some shade for those hot summer afternoons. If there are no mature trees in your location, you might want to construct or purchase an awning or arbor structure.
Plants indisputably bring the patio setting to life, creating a softening effect to an otherwise bare patio. Hanging plants can be filled with bright summer annuals and replanted each spring. If your patio landscaping ideas lean towards the function of a retreat, you might want to partially surround the patio with planter boxes. Perennials can be a good choice, as they come back on their own each year and are less maintenance intensive than annuals. You might also enjoy a partial surround of ornamental grasses, both as a windbreak and for the soothing effect of the rustling grasses in the breeze. Many of these look spectacular in winter. Pots of bulbs on the patio makes a splendid spring flower display.