Patio Garden Ideas

Unique Designs for Small Patios and Decks

Patio garden ideas for decorating small decks and patios with style.  Pictures of unique landscape designs that will easily adapt to the tiniest courtyard or most modest budget.

Private patio garden in Cordoba, Spain.

A well-designed patio garden is a roofless room; during good weather, it can be the most lived-in square footage on your property.  With good planning, even the smallest yard can house an outdoor sitting or dining area filled with plants that suit its exposure and establish its mood.

Designing a patio or deck garden is the most enjoyable of landscaping projects and a good one for a beginner to start with. 

  • Because you are dealing with a relatively small space, it will not seem as daunting as, say, redesigning your entire backyard.
  • Patios are usually personal spaces situated in tucked away areas of the landscape where they are not on public display.  This takes the pressure off if you are uncertain of your design skills.  The space only has to be pleasing to you.
  • Small gardens are less expensive to create and easier to maintain.  Less strain on your wallet.  Less strain on your back.

Let the patio garden ideas on this page inspire you to create your ideal outdoor room.

Posters of the images on this page are available.  To buy one, just click on its caption.

Tropical Deck Garden Ideas

Jim Thompson House, Bangkok, Thailand

There are two ways you can go with this concept:

  1. You can create a green oasis of tranquility like the one in the photo, or
  2. You can use flowering tropical plants to design a vibrant, exciting garden full of hot colors.

Your exposure may make this decision for you. 

If your deck is shady for most of the day, flowering plants will be unlikely to get enough light to induce bloom.  Focus, instead, on foliage plants.  Add interest by varying the leaf textures and shapes.

A sunny deck provides you an opportunity to assemble the collection of tropical flowers you've always dreamed of, but it will take just a bit more planning.  Decide on a color scheme before you start buying plants or your tropical paradise could wind up a hodge-podge.

Whichever direction you take it, a tropical garden needs to be lush.  After all, you're trying to simulate a rainforest.  Rainforests are not restrained spaces, so pack the plants in cheek by jowl. 

Just remember to leave space for a comfortable seat.  You'll want someplace to relax and admire your creation when you've finished.

Small Patio Garden Designs

An opulent garden on a small patio.

A sense of opulence can be achieved in the most diminutive garden if attention is given to three things:

  1. The hardscape elements need to harmonize and be high quality.
  2. The furnishings need to be in scale with the space and elegantly positioned.  Watch the number of pieces used. If the finished space looks crowded, remove something.
  3. Give a nod to history by including architectural features.  The fireplace and urns in the image above do this with panache.  The fountain in the image below serves a similar purpose.

A fountain with seats nearby on a small patio.

The mood established here is that of a French garden.  The fountain pays homage to those in the gardens of Versailles right down to the pots of flowers "planted" around it.

Patio Garden Ideas
The Use of Water

An outdoor dining room surrounded by sumptuous plantings.

Water plays a role in most of the garden designs on this page.  In the garden above it is the dominant feature.  Because the pond flows under and around it, the patio appears to be floating in the water.

Water is visually cooling and soothing.  Moving water adds sound which can enhance other natural sounds: birdsong, for example, or mask unnatural noises.

Potted palm trees adorn an indoor courtyard

Above, a lighted water feature surrounded by potted areca palms, provides an idea of how delightful a patio garden can be at night.

White lights are always elegant and do not have to be pricy.  You can float lit candles in a pond, stuff baskets full of Christmas lights, or place lanterns on any flat surface where they will not be easily upset.

A feature wall becomes a focal point on a small patio.

The brightly-colored feature wall on this patio provides a surface on which vines can scramble and a backdrop for a dramatic tiled fountain.  Water flows from the top basin, to the slightly larger middle basin, into the pool below creating a waterfall effect.

The huge, perforated leaves of the Swiss Cheese plant, and the fronds of Mediterranean fan palms complete the Moroccan look.

Related Pages:

Landscaping a Small Space

Courtyard Gardens

Patio and Deck Design Ideas

Hot Tub Decks

Stepping Stone Walkway Ideas: 6 Inviting Garden Paths

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