The front yard patio is actually just a simplified and scaled down version of the outdoor living area found in the back yard; this patio is a replacement for the more traditional, grand old porches and verandas of yesteryear and is comprised primarily of a small sitting and greeting area. Of course, the creation of such a patio can still be very expensive. However, homeowners can design, create and enjoy an eye-catching front patio that is relatively easy and cheap to build. All that is required is a bit of work, time, creativity. careful planning and an eye on the budget
This do-it-yourself project can be broken down into three stages: forming the basic plan, planning the final look and constructing the final product.
First, consider the basic plan. Form and function are foremost. The homeowners must consider their desires, their needs and their budget. The best location is in front of the main entryway to the home facing the street. Incorporate the walkway into the plan. Imagine creating an open concept picture window effect that looks out onto the street to limit sight lines both in and out; let a balance of invitation and privacy be the guide. Next, consider the number of people to be seated. Give some forethought to the amount, the location and the type of seating desired; these considerations will be beneficial later. Make it big enough to seem comfortably spacious but keep in mind the predetermined limitations of the lot size. Nevertheless, do not let the cost of flooring materials or construction difficulties be a major detriment to the exact size and shape, as there are budget-wise and builder friendly ways around this problem.
At this point, it is important to have a good idea about how the final product will look and be outfitted.
To begin, determine what pieces of patio furniture and garden accessories will be included. Most good quality patio furniture materials, such as cedar, rattan and teak stand up to the elements well, plus their color and beauty will make the front of the house stand out. A patio swing makes an excellent center piece. If shade is already available choose an A-frame swing set; if not, a pergola swing set might be preferred as it will have a lattice roof to create shade. Another option is a glider, or a garden bench. If more seating is desired and space permits add a couple of patio chairs or adirondack chairs to the mix. Second, to create a visual perimeter and that picture window effect use planter boxes, trellises and plank benches. Think about placing three planter boxes at 90 degree angles connected by two plank benches to create a corner at one end of the street side of the patio; attach a trellis on each outside edge of the corner planter. Duplicate this operation at the other end of the street side. A pagoda or garden arbor that straddles the walkway into the patio is another aesthetic touch that will form a welcoming entry. Find out as much as possible about the dimensions and footings of each piece of furniture, as these dimensions will be needed to aid planning the floor of the patio. Third, concrete patio pavers are the recommended flooring choice as they are cheaper and more user-friendly for this particular design. The entire surface need not be covered with pavers to be functional and attractive. Larger pavers, such as 24″ x 24″ or 24″ x 30″, work best as a base for the furniture and sitting area. Once the dimensions of furniture are determined, plan for sufficient pavers on which to sit furniture, plus two or three rows in front of each sitting piece. Smaller pavers, such as 12′ X 12″ or 18″ x 18″, can be used to create walkways to and from sitting areas. All remaining space can be filled with pea-stone gravel. A border of landscaping stones such as 6″ – 8″ river rock around the perimeter will finish the job. Since the number of pavers required has been limited, more expensive designs and golden pea-stone could be purchased, budget permitting.
At last comes the construction stage. Initially, a good shovel, a wheelbarrow and a spade will be the key tools.
First, outline the perimeter of the patio with spray paint. Remember, the exact size and shape is not a concern at this point. Also, any existing shade trees or shrubs can be incorporated into the patio easily and attractively. Now, the entire patio space should be dug to a depth of 8″ – 12″ depending on the density of the soil. If trees or shrubs have been incorporated, simply leave ample space around them to look like little islands for the time being.. Use a spade first to shave off the lawn turf, then a shovel for the remainder; create separate piles for the turf, the topsoil and the unwanted dirt. Save the topsoil for the time being as much of it will be useful later. The next step is to fill the hole with gravel to create a base; highway mix gravel works fine. Roughly calculate the square footage and the depth of the cavity, erring on the generous side. Take these measurements to the gravel yard; they will help calculate the volume required. Fill the hole so that the gravel is relatively even, about one inch below yard level. The areas where the pavers will sit, however, does need to be as level as possible, though pavers are fairly forgiving. Use a 2″ x 6″ plank and long level to achieve this end. Now turn that envisioned design into reality. First place the larger pavers into place as planned, then create the walkways with the smaller pavers; the latter need not be placed tightly together as space between them can be filled with pea-stone. In this way, the walkways can be formed into a winding fashion if needed or desired and labor-intensive cutting can be avoided. The planter boxes may be set directly onto the highway mix. Next lay out the border stones then fill all remaining spaces with the pea-stone. Finally, put the furniture into place and the patio is pretty much done. If an entry arbor is used, however, it will need to be anchored somehow, either by sinking posts or by bolting it securely onto an existing sidewalk.
As an additional step, think gardening. First, fill all garden boxes with leftover topsoil. Next, if desired, create one or more small berms outside the perimeter. Use the coarser soil and turf, green side DOWN, as a base then cover it with remaining topsoil. Finally, choose the plants and shrubs and start planting.
So what is left to do? Oh yes, grab the paper or a book and a beverage then sit down and enjoy. Remember an eye-catching patio can add to the value of the house because curb appeal and first impressions remain key to the resale value of any home.