Contemporary patios are an extension of living space. Gone are the days of simple wooden porches attached to the back of the house with a few container plants adorning the space and a grill for outdoor cooking. Modern patios now feature fully functional outdoor kitchens and fireplaces with living room-style seating areas.
A patio is a key focal point in the landscape and should be an attractive feature. Currently there are many materials available for patio decking beyond treated wood. Composite woods are long lasting and virtually maintenance free, and numerous patio pavers and bricks exist. Coordinate colors to match the foundation if the patio is close to the home. Sometimes the best location for a patio isn't right outside the backdoor. Choose a location that best suits the patio's purpose. Close to the home is useful if it will mainly be used for outdoor eating, but a patio placed in a relaxing location elsewhere in the yard may be an option.
Large containers for potted plants are more practical than small ones. Large pots don't dry out as quickly as small ones, and they are less apt to blow over in the wind. Large containers are a visual anchor and are useful in creating boundaries. Choose pots, urns, boxes and other vessels that work with your design aesthetics and choose plants well suited to your region. Don't limit yourself to ornamental plants; incorporate dwarf variety fruit trees other edible plants like kitchen herbs, container-grown strawberries and tomatoes.
Furnishings for a contemporary patio include tables and chairs, chaise lounges, serving tables, and benches, as well as outdoor patio heaters and fans with misters. If an elaborate outdoor fireplace is beyond your means, consider smaller outdoor chimneys and fire rings or pits. Water features are another bonus in an outdoor living space. A well-placed fountain helps mask unwanted background noise in the environment. Pergolas and arches provide additional lateral patio space and give a sense of height. Choose complementary colors and styles for a coherent, contemporary look.