15 Backyard Patio Ideas to Wow Friends and Family

There are a thousand ways to transform your backyard patio into the perfect outdoor getaway. The only problem is knowing where to start.

If picking that next outdoorsy upgrade has you stumped, take a look at these 15 backyard patio ideas that will transform any backyard into a lovely space to entertain family and friends. 

15 Backyard Patio Ideas to Spark Your Creativity

With each backyard patio idea, we give a clear assessment of the value, options, effort, and cost, so you can find the perfect possibility for your lifestyle and budget. 

1. Add a little privacy

Photo credit: Needpix

Nothing says “this is your space” quite like having it all to yourself. Savor the solitude of your outdoor living space without worrying about neighbors or passersby.

Options: You can add standing screens or curtain rods for an intimate space or upgrade existing fencing to enclose your entire backyard. For a more natural look, consider hedges, finished bamboo, or trees to protect your personal outdoor space. 

Effort: Putting up a few screens or standing curtains is an easy project, but you may want an experienced landscaping professional to install bushes, bamboo, or privacy fences.

Cost: Outdoor privacy screens run between $100 and $200 each, depending on material and design. Installing shrubs is going to cost you, sometimes as much as $3,000. A new privacy fence will place you in a similar range, around $2,600.

2. Build a solid paver patio

Photo credit: Brenda Ryan / LawnStarter

Using pavers for your backyard patio will add market value to your property. A new paver patio can make an attractive and durable addition to any outdoor space. With brick or flagstone, you can create a solid surface for your outdoor furniture that lasts for years with little maintenance.

Options: Pavers come in a wide range or colors and styles. Brick, cement, and natural stone are the mainstays, but these too come in a broad spectrum of colors and interlocking geometric designs.

Effort: Your paver patio is going to be a project, even for someone with a background in construction. Unless you’re willing to put in hours and hours, we recommend calling a landscaping professional.

Cost: A paver is an investment. The average installation cost is $10 to $17 per square foot, with natural stone being the most expensive. So a 16-by-18-foot patio would run anywhere from $2,800 to $5,000, depending on whether you spring for that attractive flagstone.

3. Add cozy lighting to your backyard patio

Outdoor lighting is one of those backyard patio ideas that will craft the perfect ambiance for a date night, casual evening with friends, or just a little calming “me time.” 

Options: You can brighten your outdoor space by hanging paper lanterns or string lights from awnings or pergolas. A few LED rope lights would look great along railings or fences. Even a simple candle holder can create a comfy vibe.

Effort: This is an easy DIY project for anyone with a knack for home decorating. You may want professional landscape lighting if you want to upstage your neighbors, but most of us can hang a string light.

Cost: A roll of LED rope lights will cost anywhere from $25 to $70, depending on how much you need. You can find paper lanterns for as low as $25, but don’t expect much durability from the cheaper ones. A glass lantern will run about $200. If your heart is set on that professional lighting installation with buried cables and underlighting to make each shrub glow, expect to drop about $4,000.

4. Stay warm on cool nights

Photo Credit: Patio heater / CC BY  2.0

There’s no need to cut your time outdoors short when it gets chilly. Invest in a patio heater and relax comfortably outside in cooler weather.

Options: You can heat your backyard patio with electric, propane, or gas, heaters, depending on whether you want to pay for a fuel canister or electricity. 

Effort: Some units may be heavier than others, and you may need a strong friend or a dolly for transport. Some might require assembly. Just follow the instructions on the box.

Cost: Patio heaters run between $150 and $400 and are easy to find online or at any major hardware store.

5. Make your own outdoor living room 

Photo Credit: Pickpik

There’s no better way to relax outside than lounging around on comfy outdoor furniture. Invite family and friends to relax with a new custom setup.

Options: You can achieve your outdoor relaxation station with some reclined deck chairs made of teak, rattan, or waterproof fabric. Consider hanging a porch swing or hammock from your awning or pergola. You can also try a sofa with all-weather cushions.

Effort: Moving your new furniture will be the only challenge with this backyard patio idea. Find a retailer that delivers or a friend with a truck. Hanging a swing or a hammock will require minimal installation and maybe a few tools.

Cost: Reclining deck chairs run from $70 to $400, depending on quality and style. You can find a good outdoor porch swing for around $300. An outdoor sofa will set you back anywhere from $300 to $1,000.  

6. Add a touch of greenery

Photo credit: Needpix

A few well-placed planters can add color and beauty to your oasis. Turn your backyard patio into a thriving container garden.

Options: A flower box is great for decorating your railing or windowsill. Raised planters on metal stands will allow you to play with three-dimensional space in your outdoor living space. You can never go wrong with basic ceramic pots on the ground, especially for larger plants.

Effort: Your patio plants will need regular plant care such as watering, fertilizing, and re-potting should they outgrow their little homes. A landscaping or gardening consultant can give a few pointers, if you just don’t have a green thumb. 

Cost: This is a relatively low-cost addition but the price can add up if you want to go wild. Planters and pots run anywhere from $25 to $150, depending on the size and design.

7. Install your own fire pit

Photo credit: TheTechDave / Flickr / CC By 2.0

A campfire can transform any evening into a relaxing, rustic experience. An outdoor fireplace is perfect for casual fireside cookouts with hot dogs or s’mores and can take your backyard lifestyle to the next level.

Options: Fire pits run the gamut depending on how much you want to invest. A portable standing fire pit is low-mess and easy to move. A DIY stone ring could add a touch of character to your yard. If you’re really feeling ambitious, a custom dug-out installation with a surrounding paver could increase the market value of your home.

Effort: This one’s up to you. You can hire a landscaping professional to build an attractive built-in, or simply buy a standing one and haul it into place.  

Cost: The median cost for a professional fire pit installation clocks in at $700. A portable one runs between $50 and $400.

8. Outdoor dining room

Photo credit: Brenda Ryan / LawnStarter

Any weekday dinner can feel like a picnic with a personalized outdoor dining space. You’ll get a lot more use out of your backyard and can enjoy anything from full meals to your morning cup of coffee. 

Options: As with lounge furniture, you’ll need chairs and a dining table that can weather the storm. Teak, rattan, metal, and waterproof fabric are your friends. All-weather cushions can only make your life comfortable. Also, consider a casual sitting area around a simple coffee table.

Effort: You’ll have to move some furniture, but beyond that, you just need to clean up after yourself when you eat. If you really want to wow some guests, consider built-in tables and countertops, but a nice set of patio furniture will serve most homeowners just fine.

Cost: For a full outdoor dining set, expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $1500.

9. Grow a vertical garden

Photo credit: Needpix

Green walls and vertical gardens are a space-efficient way to bring a touch of nature to your patio area. They’re fun to design and don’t require any more maintenance than other outdoor greenery.

Options: Install a trellis and plant creeping vines at the bottom to create a living privacy screen. Put up a tiered stand for planters, or install flower boxes and hanging pots on an existing wall.

Effort: You’ll have to plan your green wall and put the structure in place — or consider hiring a landscaping professional. Once installed, you just have to keep your greenery alive. It’s still a garden.

Cost: Trellises and vertical stands for planters go for anywhere from $50 to $250. After that you only need to purchase plants, seeds, or additional pots.

 10. Build a pergola

Photo Credit: HGTV / CC BY-SA 3.0

Pergolas can add a graceful, architectural style to your patio. They’re also fantastic structures for hanging pots, lighting, swings, or privacy screens.

Options: Pergolas come in a variety of styles and materials, but most are made of wood. You can hire a professional, buy pre-cut pieces and assemble them yourself, or take on a full-scale DIY construction project.

Effort: Like the paver, a pergola is a major home investment. Expect construction to stretch over several days. A landscaping professional or home construction crew is highly recommended.

Cost: At the low end, a pergola costs near $1,000. At the higher end, the cost of a custom pergola can reach $10,000, but the typical price is $2,000 to $5,000.

11. Cool off in the shade

Photo credit: Needpix

Hot, sunny days don’t mean you have to stay inside with a fan and a sweating glass of ice water. Keep your patio area cool with a touch of shade.

Options: You can install a canopy over your pergola or invest in a pop-up gazebo. A folding umbrella is great for a dining area. You could even put in a retractable canopy for your awning. Of course, it’s hard to beat a good shade tree.

Effort: This will take some doing. Installing a pergola canopy or a pop-up gazebo is at least an afternoon project. Installing a retractable awning or a full tree would probably take a landscaping professional.

Cost: Retractable awnings cost roughly $2,500. A new tree costs anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on size. Pergola canopies and patio umbrellas are the cheaper option, usually costing only a few hundred.

12. Upcycle your junk

Photo credit: Needpix

Upcycling is the practice of transforming ordinary household objects into beautiful and functional outdoor décor. It gives new life to your odds and ends while adding a touch of creativity and character to your outdoor space.

Options: Your imagination is the only limitation. With a little paint and some decorative holes, tin cans become whimsical lanterns. An old step ladder can have a second act as a vertical planter. A wooden drawer could be your next flower box.

Effort: Each of these would be a craft project, but crafting is part of the fun.

Cost: Upcycled decor can enhance your patio area without costing a thing. Unless you want to raid a yard sale.

13. Add a relaxing water feature

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The sound of running water can add a touch of serenity to any environment. A small water feature can create the perfect soothing space for meditation, relaxation, or sitting down with a good book and some fresh air.

Options: Garden fountains come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so it’s really up to your aesthetic preference. You can choose between soothing step waterfalls, rock fountains, or bowl fountains.

Effort: This is an easy way to upgrade your patio area. You can always build your own rock fountain, but there’s nothing stopping you from simply picking up one at the garden store.

Cost: A nice patio water fountain usually runs between $100 and $400. If you really want a masterpiece of sculpture, a custom water feature can cost $1,000 or more.

14. Rock out with an outdoor sound system

Photo credit: Pixy

Music is the perfect way to set the vibe for welcoming friends and family to your patio. There’s no need to settle for your phone when listening to your favorite tunes outside.  

Options: Weather-resistant speakers come in a few different styles. You can choose between wall mounted systems to install on your home or natural-looking rock speakers to arrange in your yard.

Effort: This is another simple upgrade in your outdoor living. While set-up might be confusing to the least tech-savvy among us, you can always call customer support.

Cost: Expect a full weather-resistant sound system to require a small investment. These typically run between $300 and $700.

15. Make your patio your own 

Photo credit: Needpix

Nothing makes someone feel more at home on a new patio than being surrounded by the things that bring them joy. Get in touch with your inner decorator and consider adding some personal finishing touches.

Options: The sky’s the limit. Popular flourishes include garden statues, sundials, bird baths, decorative plants, wind chimes, and weather-resistant sculptures.

Effort: Here the effort lies mostly in shopping around and picking out things that make you happy. Designing your outdoor living space should be half the fun.

Cost: Ordinary backyard patio statues cost anywhere from $30 to $200. If you really need that moving double helix horizontal wind sculpture, you can drop up to $700.

FAQ About Backyard Patios

How much do backyard patio improvements cost?

This depends entirely on what you want. Covering a large swath of your yard with a natural flagstone paver can cost up to $10,000. Transforming an old soccer ball into a creative upcycled planter is free. 

Should I hire a professional landscaper?

For large projects like constructing pavers and pergolas, definitely. For installing a standing outdoor fire pit, probably not. 

How much space do I need for a backyard patio?

The average backyard patio is 16 by 18 feet, but a small patio is only 6 by 7 feet.

Should I hire someone to create my outdoor patio design?

If you want, a seasoned landscape architect can transform your outdoor living space into a modern patio and add market value to your home. However, a professional landscape design is going to be an investment. 

Most people rely on themselves for the design, or create a plan for larger projects in consultation with a landscaping professional.

How can a Landscaping Professional Help with Your Backyard Patio?

Hiring a landscaping professional is a great idea for heavy projects like installing pavers, pergolas, shrubs, and trees.

If you really want to take your aesthetics to the next level, there’s nothing like a professional landscape designer to bring that wow factor to your outdoor space. 

Main Photo Credit: Pxfuel

Cory Ferrer

Cory Ferrer

Cory Ferrer is a LawnStarter writer with a background in communication, creative writing, and education. He spends his free time exploring Denver, taking long bike rides, and browsing used bookstores.