Patio Designs and Garden Paths – Type and Theme
Patio Designs and Garden Paths
Choosing the Type of Patio or Path For Your Garden
The type of garden you plan to create (and the individual features you choose to make up the garden) will involve a basic design decision, namely whether you want it to be formal or informal, beautifully symmetrical or attractively irregular in character.
The formal garden is generally characterised by straight lines, although circular paths may also be included in the scheme. Wide walkways, rigid planting and grand staircases are at home here, along with terraces and courtyards. Symmetry and balance are the two essential distinguishing features of the formal garden.
Paths and patios are made from similar materials, usually relatively sophisticated, and neatly finished off. Marble, for instance, was a favourite in the great classical gardens, but slate, brick and tile are equally appropriate.
Steps are usually built of brick, concrete or planed timber, often with pillars and balustrades on either side.
The informal garden contains design elements which are quite the opposite of those found in the formal garden. Here you find rustic materials and curved, irregular lines and forms. Herbaceous borders alongside paths, with plants spilling over the edges, are perfect, as are stepping stones which wander off around corners.
Materials chosen should be less contrived and tending towards rusticity. Gravel and slasto (slate crazy paving) paths are commonplace, while steps are often built with stone. If bricks or blocks are used, they should be laid to enhance the informal approach, and plants could also be encouraged to take root in the joints.
Of course, few things in life are as well defined as this, and in practice, many gardens include both formal and informal elements. This usually works best on a large property, where sections can easily be subdivided, but even in a reasonably small area, you could combine these two types and establish, for instance, an informal planted area with a winding pathway, which leads to a relatively formal patio built adjacent to the house.
Theme for Your Patio Designs and Garden Paths
Professional designers often choose to follow a theme. This can work well, but it is essential to ensure that paths, steps and areas intended for entertaining guests are appropriately designed and constructed. Style is an obvious theme option (see below), but is one which usually relies on the existing architecture of the house. For instance, a rustic cobbled path will not suit a clean-lined modern house, and a marble-topped patio could look quite out of place next to a brick cottage.
If you decide to focus on colour, you may want to use several shades of a chosen hue (a pink theme could range from deep cerise to soft powder-puff pink, while a blue theme could include lilac and purple tones) or you might prefer to mix colours. Perhaps your living room has been decorated in bold blues and yellows; if so, the obvious hues for a patio leading from this room will mirror the interior. This could change to yellow and orange along a linking pathway which disappears behind a screen wall or hedge into a herb garden. Here, the colours would be primarily yellow, orange and blue, without too much planning on your part. This does not mean that surface materials need to match; in fact it is probably more important to ensure that they complement established plants. There are always many possibilities, but a black slate patio could be very effective surrounded by blue and yellow flowers, while red brick shows up white blooms to good advantage.
Your theme may follow through the entire outdoor area, or it may be limited to one section only. Herbs and roses, for instance, are often planted in separate areas which are frequently bounded by paths.