A well-designed L-shaped patio can open up your garden, creating a more practical and stylish area for entertaining or relaxing, while also giving key features room to breathe.
It can hug the corners of a house or be designed with the ‘short’ part of the L following the back wall of the house and the ‘long’ part stretching out into the garden.
Designing an L-shaped patio might feel a little daunting at first, but a successfully planned addition will make the most of every inch of your outdoor space. It will also provide a strong element of garden design that will give your backyard the professional edge.
And L-shaped layouts are just as easy to lay as square or rectangular patios, says Lee Dunderdale, product manager for Bradstone: 'From a technical aspect, there aren’t any different challenges brought about by an L-shaped patio as any other shaped patio.'
Let the experts show why going for an alternative shape for your patio could be the best decision you make for your backyard layout.
10 L-shaped patio ideas to try in your space
Whether you only have space for a small patio and want to try something interesting with the shape, or you have a large backyard that needs more thought in terms of layout and zoning, these L-shaped patio designs have plenty to offer.
Our favourite inspirations deal with everything from how to zone this useful space to what to plant around the edge.
1. Use an L shape to create different outdoor zones
This patio layout leads out and into the garden, where a pretty dining area has been created next to the lawn on one side, with a relaxed seating area on the other side. Designing the patio as an L-shape helps to zone these two areas, with each section of the patio having a distinct function.
When designing such as large outdoor space as this, choosing the correct patio paving is crucial for the success of the design.
'Your first decision should be the material you choose,' says Steve MacDavid, landscaping category manager at builders’ merchants Jewson. 'If you’re going to have a lot of traffic back and forth you’ll want a very hard-wearing surface. This can be laid with stone-look designs to match your garden style, or natural stone paving like Indian Sandstone is ideal if you want to have a more rustic feel for your garden.'
2. Wrap the patio around a house
With a wraparound L-shaped patio, you should be aiming for a seamless transition between the interior of your home and the outdoor living space. In terms of materials and color, opting for patio flooring that matches the color of your home and backyard walls can unify the space and even make a small garden look bigger.
'For those looking to show off their backyard as an extension of the indoor space, porcelain paving offers a wide range of fine finishes and colors that can be used to really connect the colors and style of your indoor space to your outdoor one,' says Steve MacDavid.
When an L-shaped patio leads straight off the house like this, you have to be disciplined to prevent a sizeable chunk of it ending up full of clutter and backyard items. Add a dedicated screened-off garden storage area to prevent this happening.
3. Surround a pool with an L-shaped patio
An L-shape is an obvious choice for a pool patio, allowing you to add a practical paved area to two sides of your pool. Not only does it give you easy access into the water, but it will provide you with the space you need for seating and lounging areas.
Make sure each side of the patio is wide enough to allow plenty of space for your chairs or loungers, while still leaving enough room for people to walk safely along the pool's edge without the risk of tripping over furniture.
Plus, if the pool is likely to be used by boisterous kids, you'll want to make sure you can move those loungers well away from the edge of the water. Unless, of course, you enjoy getting splashed while you're relaxing in the sunshine!
4. Design the L-shape to lead towards a pergola
An L-shaped patio can be both decorative and practical. For instance, it can provide a path towards an outstanding backyard feature such as a pergola.
Pergolas are one of the most popular additions to a garden, with a multitude of uses including dining, entertaining or relaxing space.
In this neat scheme the ‘end result’ of the L-shape turns up a couple of steps to accommodate the different levels of the garden. This split-level patio feature accentuates the attractiveness of the layout and has been designed to offer a generous semi-covered space.
5. Use it as a design tool
If you’re fortunate enough to have a blank canvas to play with – perhaps if you have a new-build house with no landscaping – you can lay a patio in an L-shape as a stand-alone design feature from the start. A good idea is to devise a use for each part of the shape – one of these should be seating/relaxing, another dining/entertaining.
'When choosing where to site specific areas in the L-shape, think about where the sun is as different times of day,' says garden designer Jane Brownhill at Longacres Landscape Ltd. 'Some clients prefer to eat in the shade but sit in the sun. With an L-shape, it’s very important to think about placing furniture so it does not block views out from the house. And finally, when you’re thinking about where to site the area to be used for dining, think about carrying a heavy tray out from the kitchen and consider how far you would want to walk with it.'
6. Include a raised flower bed in your patio design
The raised bed helps to bring the L-shaped patio scheme to life, and could be planted with low-maintenance seasonal color. You could easily incorporate a raised wildlife pond in the same way, which would be safe for children and pets and provide year-round interest.
6. Use your patio to edge two sides of a lawn
This is a common way to design an L-shaped patio, wrapping it around a lawn in order to provide full access to the grass. It's an ideal choice for families with young children and/or pets. In this situation, it provides ample hard landscaping for activities and storage and place to play and exercise too.
'L-shaped patios are a great way to create a large amount of patio in what might be a fairly small space, whilst still maintaining a lawned area in a family garden,' says Lee Dunderdale.
7. Link different parts of the garden
Some of the most successful L-shaped patio ideas can be used to cleverly link different parts of the garden. This creates an easy flow and rhythm and allows every inch of the outdoor space to be put to use.
Depending on how you site your patio, it may be the case that it can lead slightly around a corner to a ‘hidden’ part of the garden. This is an ideal spot to place a garden building such as a shed or garden office, as the location would be relatively private in terms of the house.
If this is choice, introduce generous planting either side of the building to help it sit naturally into the patio, rather than ‘floating’ above it and standing out.
Indeed, planting is a key way to soften the effect of lots of hard landscaping in any design scheme. Some of our favorite patio gardening ideas for a space like the one pictured include pots filled with colorful scented perennials and climbing plants growing up trellises or pergolas. You could also use the end of the L-shaped patio as a garden arbor with a bench to create a quiet and secluded haven.
9. Make a statement with strong lines
Making a strong design statement with your L-shaped patio will win gasps of admiration, but if you’re not mindful it can look rather stark and unengaging.
To avoid a common patio design mistake and ensure your L-shaped patio will sit snugly in the landscape, always think of how you are going to plant around the finished design.
'One of my top tips is to create a feature tree planting pit or square within the patio,' says BBC Garden Rescue’s presenter and garden designer Lee Burkhill, owner of Garden Ninja. 'By bringing a multi-stem tree such as an amelanchier into the patio you can help blend the L-shape more seamlessly with the garden. The multi-stem form will help add some interest without casting too much shade.'
If you're creating new flower beds from scratch and it will take a while for your planting to grow and fill the space, some vibrant container gardening ideas will add instant greenery and flowers.
10. Shadow your patio shape with an L-shaped path
In this Mediterranean-style garden, the L-shaped patio has been cleverly echoed on the lawn with a garden path made from brick pavers. This serves to shadow and emphasize the concept and moves it away from the basic L-shape.
Whilst the L-shape following the back of the house is practical, and provides directly connected indoor/outdoor space, the repetition of the right angle makes it seem less obtrusive than if it had been used only a single motif. A row of conifers both brings together and accentuates the design.
What's the biggest design challenge with an L-shaped patio?
'The key challenge for homeowners installing an L-shaped patio is the dimensions – ensuring there is enough patio space to really make the most of it in a meaningful way, whilst also ensuring enough soft landscaping is left over to keep the garden colorful and interesting,' says Lee Dunderdale, product manager for Bradstone.
To overcome this, the key is planning and drawing out how you want the patio to look, and considering the features which will soften the blocks of paving. A good tip is to incorporate curves and circles elsewhere, so think sweeping paths and gravelled areas, as well as circular flower beds.
How should you light an L-shaped patio?
When it comes to patio lighting for an L-shaped paved space, you need to avoid the ‘airport runway’ effect, with lights dotted all the way around the perimeter of the paved area.
Gardener designer Sam Proctor at Chiltern Garden Design says she would always avoid uplights placed in the ground around the edge of a patio, because 'lights need something to graze or fall onto, uplights along the edge aren’t effective as they’re simply throwing light into a void.'
Instead, she recommends placing simple spike spotlights in planting beds, angled towards the edge of your patio: 'The planting helps to mask the light sources and soften the overall effect.'
Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.
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