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No two patios are exactly alike
While it is very common to find a patio directly off back of house, there are no rules or regulations that make this ultimate location. Also, patios come in various sizes and shapes and may contain any number of hardscape materials: flagstone, concrete, tile, brick, pebbles and such. As for layout, a large patio may include definition and enclosure with low walls and planting beds; while a small patio may have just a ground plane dressed in flagstone with enough room for a table and chairs (see http://www.everything-patio-furniture.com) and some planters and pots. Each patio example can take full advantage of plant forms to create pleasing effects that will maximize every ones pleasure outdoors.
Small patios: Designing with plants
Small patio spaces rely not so much on horizontal plane as on vertical plane where greenery of plants can produce handsome walls, create a sense of enclosure and privacy, and, screen out unwanted views. Vines are very useful in small spaces, and garden structures such as trellises and pergolas can assist them to grow upward without claiming too much valuable patio space. This is especially true if plants are grown in ground versus being planted in pots which will likely take up more room. For certain climates, evergreen shrubs such as boxwood and privet provide permanent architecture year round and can be clipped to maintain right scale for your needs. To find comparable plant choices for your zone consult with local nurseries and landscapers. Ask for recommendations of upright or vertical shrubs and trees that donít take up a lot of horizontal space and/or can handle being pruned to keep them upright.
With all of nice plant choices available, make use of perennials, shrubs and trees to create inviting effects. A patio shining with beautiful hardscape is wonderful, but dull without bountiful greenery of plants to balance.
Nicole Martins is a contributing author and publisher to http://www.everything-patio-furniture.com, an online resource that provides you with great information, articles of interest and reviews of the best selling outdoor furniture and patio accessories online.