Decorating a backyard patio can be as simple as placing a few potted plants around a picnic table---or you can get fancy by including more outdoor furniture and planting large tropical-looking plants in the ground around your patio. A patio can be covered or open air. Depending on your climate, you might consider building a roof over your patio to protect from rain and harsh sun.
Build a Deck
Build a wooden or paving stone deck in the area you want as your patio. Typically, a deck will be situated adjacent to your house. If you have a staircase from your house to the yard below, build your deck so it joins the stairs and creates an area that is convenient to your kitchen or living room. Your deck can be round, square or rectangular, large or small. Consider the uses for your deck. For barbecues and outdoor dining, plan and build a deck large enough to accommodate those needs.
Decorate with Potted Plants
Many plants grow well in large, decorative pots or half wine barrels. Add color by using continuously blooming flowers and multi-colored foliage, such as ornamental ti leaf plants. Grow a fruit tree (orange, lemon or lime) for attractive dark green foliage and fresh fruit.
Plant Tropical Foliage
Plant palm trees, bananas, crotons, large ferns and other plants around the perimeter of your deck. Some palm trees, such as the Mexican fan palm, are hardy down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit and some varieties of bananas do well in temperate climates, dying back when winter arrives. You can grow them as annuals and then replant them the following spring because they grow quickly.
You'll undoubtedly want to include at least one table with chairs so you and your guests can have a comfortable place to eat, enjoy beverages and relax. If you're on a tight budget, look for used patio furniture and shop garage sales.
Make Your Patio Private
If you have neighbors nearby and no fences or tall hedges to separate your yard from theirs, add a fence or trellis adjacent to your patio---you can grow a flowering vine or ivy that will climb the trellis and make it look more attractive.