Wouldn’t it be nice if you could head outside on warm summer nights and eat a delicious home-cooked meal under the stars? Or enjoy cocktails in the spring or fall when the weather is perfect—not too warm and not too cold. You can have a usable outdoor living area, even if you have a small backyard patio.
The key is to have a smart patio design that enables you to utilize the space completely. Start by figuring out how you want to use the space, which can help guide you in deciding on the best outdoor patio idea for your outdoor living space. Get inspired by these ideas and start planning your backyard makeover.
1. Small Patio Ideas for Backyards
If you have a large backyard, use it to your advantage when creating your small patio space. The larger space around your patio gives the illusion that your backyard patio is bigger than it really is. You could use this space to create the perfect outdoor kitchen. Then place picnic tables out on the lawn.
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You could create the perfect cocktail hour space with a couple of Adirondack chairs and a fire pit. Then you can gaze out over your backyard as you sip cocktails and stay warm by the fire.
The key to making this a success is with the backyard landscaping. The rest of your backyard needs to be attractive to look at. Start by creating a smooth transition from the patio to the backyard. You could do this with a mini stone wall and path from one to the other. Or you could build a raised patio with gradual tiers going down to the backyard.
If you have a larger budget, you can create a water feature with a fish pond and fountain. This feature will create gentle white noise. Choose plants that can create multiple levels. Plan to use larger trees and bushes towards the far end or back. Then work your way closer to the patio with smaller plants. Choose plants that produce beautiful flowers for the immediate area to create a vibrant view.
2. Contemporary Small Patio Ideas
What’s nice about a contemporary design approach is that it works well with a small patio space. To create a modern design, you’ll want to use simplistic furniture with minimal details and ornamentation. This furniture can also be small in size so that it fits better in your small space. Look for clean, bright white cushions on sleek wood or metal frames.
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Then decorate the space with potted plants that you can prune into neat shapes. This will keep the greenery looking clean. You could hang a shipping pallet or other large rack on your wall or fence. Then hang small pots from it with different herbs. Now you have a useful herb garden and decorative greenery.
If you have a concrete patio, place a geometric patterned outdoor rug. Use exotic wood or bamboo to build a privacy wall on one or two sides of your small patio to create a more intimate space. Then consider hanging a sleek outdoor chandelier or pendant light above the seating area.
3. Covered Small Patio Ideas
Adding a cover to your little patio or small deck space will give you more usability. The right coverage can protect you during the hottest of summer days from the harsh sun and shelter you on the rainy ones. An affordable option is to place a large patio umbrella on your patio. The downside is that the umbrellas are only so big. They’re also canvas, so you’ll need to replace them eventually. The advantage is that they move, so you can adjust them to exactly where you need them.
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More permanent options include a solid extension of your existing roof, a new independent roof, shade sails, louvered, or a pergola. If you’re worried about a solid roof blocking too much light, you can use clear corrugated plexiglass. This will provide protection while also allowing light through.
If you use a pergola, you have the perfect opportunity for a dual purpose covering. Instead of having a separate garden, you can grow your plants on the pergola. Vining plants will love growing on your pergola and provide you with protection from the sun. Some of the best plants for this are bougainvillea, cape or giant Burmese honeysuckle, Carolina jasmine, chocolate vine, grapes, and wisteria.
If you want a tropical vibe for your small patio, consider building a thatched roof. These structures provide shade and are incredibly sturdy. Be sure to check your local codes and regulations before you build any of these structures. You may find there are restrictions on the type and size of the patio cover you can build.
For more covered patio ideas, check out The Top 50 Best Patio Ceiling Ideas .
4. Inexpensive Small Patio Ideas
You can DIY a patio space in your backyard by leveling an area and spreading pea gravel. The gravel is affordable, and you can spread it yourself. Just be sure to level the ground and remove any grass or other plants growing in the area.
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Add some lighting to the space by hanging string lights. You could plug them into an existing exterior plug. Then mount hooks on the exterior of your home to string the lights on. If you want the lights to extend over the entire patio space, install a wood beam on your patio’s outside edge. Dig a hole a couple of feet deep and place the wood beam in it. Make sure the pole is seven feet or taller once in the hole. Secure the pole by filling in the hole with quick-curing concrete, then secure a hook on the top. You can now string your lights across your patio for a light covering.
If you already have a concrete slab for your patio, you can affordably dress it up with a rug. Look for one meant for outdoor use. This will prevent it from holding water and growing mold. A color rug will give the patio a bright pop of color.
You can create cheap yet comfy seating with pallets and large cushions. Stack two or three pallets and then place a large square cushion on top. Finish with over-sized decorative pillows.
For more inexpensive patio ideas, check out The Top 54 Patio Ideas on a Budget .
5. Narrow Small Patio Ideas
Embrace the narrow space by making smart furniture choices. You could have a bench along the wall with cafe tables and one or two and chairs on the other side. Or you could place a couple of comfy chairs with small tables between them in a line looking out over your property.
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Another smart small patio decor idea is to use folding furniture so you can fold it out of the way when not in use. When you do need it, unfold it and set it up. This approach works well with a modern design theme. Keep everything clean and modern.
Don’t sacrifice decor because your space is narrow. Place a large statement plant in the corner to give the space some green. Another option is to place a multi-tiered planter and hang other plants from the roof. This adds levels to the patio, which breaks up the visual and gives the illusion that it’s larger than it really is.
If you aren’t planning on entertaining, turn your patio into a personal oasis escape. A hammock is a perfect outdoor furniture solution for a narrow patio. Place a rug under it and then grow some lush greenery around it. You could use bamboo to create a decorative wall feature. A small fountain in a corner will create white noise and complete the tropical illusion.
6. Small Paver Patio Ideas
There are reasons why so many people create their small patios with poured concrete. Once you pour the patio, it’s durable and a safe non-slip surface. If you find the look of concrete unpleasant, you can apply several finishing treatments. You could etch into it, stamp it, or apply a faux finish. You could even tile your small patio with a natural stone tile to improve the look and maintain a non-slip walking surface.
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If you want something else, you can lay stone pavers to build your patio area. You can choose from flagstone, cobblestone, cut stone, or veneer stone. The one you choose will depend on your budget, your small patio’s size, and the look you’re going for.
Stone and concrete pavers typically have space between them that’s filled with Irish moss or pea gravel. Flagstone will create a continuous and almost smooth surface for your patio. Traditional pavers are the most versatile when it comes to laying them in unique patterns and designs. However, they also create the most varied surface. This is something to think about if you have guests with mobility issues.
For more paver ideas, check out The Top 60 Best Paver Patio Ideas .
7. Tiny Patio Ideas
If you have a tiny outdoor area, look at small patio decorating ideas to maximize your available space. One idea is to build a bench into the side of your house or along one wall of your patio. It will seat multiple people and take up less room than the equivalent number of chairs.
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The second thing you should do is match your shapes. If your outdoor space is round, look for a round table. For a rectangular patio, try a matching long table. This will enable you to use the space effectively without creating dead corners.
When buying your patio furniture, look for items that can serve a dual purpose. You could purchase a coffee table with a removable top. When closed, it’s a normal coffee table. Hidden underneath could be a cooler for storing drinks on a hot day or a fire pit to keep you warm during the cool nights.
A smaller patio has an advantage when it comes to choosing your decor. You can choose multiple bold and bright colors and not worry about it becoming overwhelming. Try adding large, brightly patterned ottomans or poufs for extra seating. When arranging your furniture, place your chairs or couch towards the outer edge. This gives you the most centralized and usable floor space. Face the furniture in order to provide the longest sight lines possible. Looking out over your backyard gives the illusion of the small patio space being bigger.
Small Patio FAQs
How do you landscape a small patio?
Create a cozy space by planting a wall of bushes or trees. This creates a natural visual and sound barrier. You can then either plant in the ground, in flower boxes, or in pots. Also, choose plants of varying heights. A water feature will create white noise and a calming effect.
How do you shade a small patio?
You can create natural shade by planting large trees with leafy branches. Or you could build a pergola over the space. Two or three patio umbrellas can also provide you with a decent amount of shade. Consider using something that you can adjust with the position of the sun for continual shade throughout the day.
How can I make my concrete patio look nice?
Look for ways to make the concrete more attractive. You could paint or stain it for an easy and quick makeover. You could lay an outdoor rug over it. For a more permanent upgrade, you could lay slate tiles down or lay decking over it. Both of these solutions will hide the concrete and transform your concrete patio.
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