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Outdoor Living - Relaxing on the Patio

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Sandy DeFoe

When I was growing up, having a patio at your home usually meant that there was a square (or sometimes rectangular) slab of grey concrete protruding off the house in the backyard. In our neighborhood, patios were not terribly common and I can remember the consternation when my father not only had one installed, but it was a white (more accurately, white-ish) half circle instead of one of the grey “regulation” shapes. My mother proudly planted precise rows of flowers around it every summer and every summer we pulled out our green metal lawn chairs and blissfully baked in the sun as we watched the street traffic drive by. (corner lot — no trees)  We had achieved the American dream!



Thankfully, there have been some changes since then. I have learned to plant my flowers in masses rather than lines, I no longer use the metal lawn chairs with the plastic webbing, I understand the risks of baking in the sun and traffic is not my favored view. What hasn’t changed however, is the pure joy I experience relaxing on my patio.



According to a 2016 study by National Association of Realtors, a well-landscaped patio area is one of the top three outdoor features that homeowners want. In economic terms, installing a high quality patio will recover 102% of the project cost. Dollar for dollar, that’s a higher return on investment than remodeling a kitchen or bathroom.

This patio?

Or this one?


As a “Joy Score,” which is the wonderful term that the National Association of Realtors has coined, installing a patio scores 9.6 out of a possible 10. Homeowners report that they have “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are home…and a feeling of “better function and livability.” According to these survey results, adding a new or reviving an existing patio can entirely change your attitude and your lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that adding or reviving a patio can give.


Pure joy!

Pure joy!


A patio can act as a transition between the indoors and the outdoors, extending living and entertaining space. It can be the place that invites family and friends to share time together taking in the sights and sounds and sweet scents of nature. Include a fire pit so you can roast marshmallows or make s’mores or just sit and watch the flames dance, sharing conversation and making lasting memories.


A patio can be your own private retreat from a stress-filled world. It can be small and intimate, the perfect place to gently rock in a hammock or lounge in a comfortable outdoor recliner while listening to the gentle trickle of a flowing stream or fountain nearby. Your patio can be your personal space fulfilling your personal needs.



A patio can add architectural interest to an otherwise plain space. It can become the focal point of the outdoors, adding style and drama to the existing area while providing valuable living space. An artfully designed and  landscaped patio can add depth to a small space and bring intimacy to an open vista.



My father’s plain concrete slab patio was a popular design trend at the time in large part because it was a readily available, affordable option. Today, we have a variety of materials from which to choose, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. I talked to Dan Nelson, Senior Designer at Embassy Landscape Group to get his opinion on five of the most popular ones on the market today.




  • Least expensive
  • Can be poured in almost any shape
  • Can be stamped or stained to add visual interest
  • Tends to settle and crack
  • May chip and discolor




  • Classic appearance
  • Can be mortared to a concrete base or dry laid
  • Retain color well
  • Strong and long-lasting
  • More expensive than concrete




  • Excellent durability
  • Wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes
  • Can be mortared to a concrete base or dry laid
  • Wide variety of price and quality
  • Can have some maintenance issues



  • A natural material
  • Can have a classic or contemporary look
  • Can be mortared to a concrete base or dry laid
  • Can be labor intensive to install
  • Fairly expensive to install



  • Contemporary look
  • Variety of shapes, styles and colors
  • Slip resistant surfaces
  • Can be mortared to a concrete base or dry laid
  • Currently an expensive option











If you’re thinking about installing a new patio or renovating your existing one, give the designers at Embassy a call. They can help you design a space that it perfect for you and your lifestyle.