Patio landscaping ideas: 10 unique ways to elevate your seating space

Does your outdoor living area need an update? These patio landscaping ideas will help you get inspired

modern patio in garden designed by consilium hortus
(Image credit: Consilium Hortus/Michelle Foulser)

The opportunities are almost endless when it comes to patio landscaping ideas – all it takes is a bit of creativity and – let's face it – a bit of budgeting. But the very best ones can totally transform a space, enabling it to be used to its full potential while looking fantastic. So, they are well worth considering if you want to transform your backyard into the outdoor living area of your dreams, as opposed to a dull stretch of lackluster paving.

Perhaps you want your patio to be split into zones, sheltered by contemporary overhead structures, or to feature a pond. Or maybe, the idea of built-in furniture appeals for a sleek aesthetic that's low maintenance, too. And once your landscaping plans are sorted, you'll have the perfect base for the rest of your patio ideas.

10 patio landscaping looks for your backyard

We've brought together some of our top looks for landscaping around patios, in a range of styles, to get you inspired for your own garden.

1. Opt for wraparound benches

patio with fire pit and surrounding seating and water feature

Cozy up around a fire pit

(Image credit: A Garden/Alamy Stock Photo)

Sure, there's lots of gorgeous garden furniture you can choose from for your patio, from hanging chairs to corner sofas. But if you love a sleek and fuss-free look, there is an alternative: opting for built-in designs that form part of the overall landscaping.

Benches like these are a classic choice and great for large family gardens or social hubs. Planting and a water feature around the perimeter soften the space, providing a relaxing and sensory backdrop. We also like how timber has been stacked below – its organic texture contrasts pleasingly with the modern paving. Plus, it's conveniently on hand when the fire pit needs more fuel.

Speaking of which, fire pit patio ideas are definitely worth adding to your list of potential plans. A flickering flame makes a lovely focal point for the center of an outdoor space.

2. Light up your patio landscaping

modern courtyard with lights from Detail Lighting

This welcoming lighting scheme is from Detail Lighting

(Image credit: Detail Lighting)

To get the most out of your outdoor living space, you'll want to be able to use it once night falls, as well as throughout the day. This means, you'll need to invest in some patio lighting ideas.

Lights are an important part of any landscaping plan, as they can totally transform the mood of a plot while highlighting key features. Of course, they're practical too.

Uplights, spotlights, strip lights – they can all be layered up as part of your patio landscaping scheme to accentuate edges of zones and interesting foliage, as well as illuminating task areas such as outdoor kitchens. The result? A welcoming space that you and your guests will definitely want to spend more time in.

3. Choose a split-level design

sunken patio with seating

Sink a seating space

(Image credit: A Garden/Alamy Stock Photo)

Whether you've got a sloping plot that's crying out for a bit more structure, or you simply want to define different zones in your backyard more clearly, adding levels is a brilliant approach.

Here, sunken seating benefits from the extra shelter, not just from the surrounding walls but also from the beams suspended overhead in an eye-catching green. Such patio cover ideas can be accessorized too – think glowing festoon lights or climbing plants, for instance.

On the higher level of the patio, a storage unit doubles up as a stylish rock garden – an easy-care type of planting that's perfect for busy gardeners who have less time for backyard maintenance. And on the left, a billowing border of perennials brings a sense of soft texture and bright color to the scene.

4. Zone the space with screens

patio with leisure plan furniture and screens

This setup is made complete with furniture from Leisure Plan

(Image credit: Leisure Plan)

Another way to divide up your space is by incorporating garden screening ideas into your patio landscaping.

This woven structure offers a wonderfully naturalistic vibe while creating distinct 'garden rooms'. 

Half-height fences or garden walls, large planters filled with tall grasses or shrubs, and decorative trellis panels intertwined with pretty climbing plants are other ways to break up your patio and make it more interesting to explore. And, they also create a stronger sense of privacy where needed.

5. Make a statement with overhead structures

dining area on patio with shelter

A stunning patio space from Consilium Hortus

(Image credit: Consilium Hortus/Michelle Foulser)

Samuel Moore, director of Consilium Hortus, highlights louvered pergolas as a major trend for patio landscaping features right now, with most of his clients wanting one.

Unlike traditional timber structures, you can manipulate the amount of sun or shade your space gets. And they can be customized with chic mod cons for extra comfort. 'We have even added elements like blinds, heaters, and glass doors to these structures to create more room-like structures,' he says. 

This dining setup benefits from one that's been kitted around with LED lighting and adjustable side shades, making outdoor entertaining easy whatever the weather. More overhead structures line the nearby pathway, offering drama and sculptural interest.

We love the patio paving used here too, in its light, bright shade – the perfect choice for a contemporary scheme.

6. Surround a patio with built-in flower beds

bradstone paving on tiered patio

This garden features Pauta paving from Bradstone

(Image credit: Bradstone)

Interested in patio gardening? One approach is to invest in a load of planters, fill them with your favorite flowers, foliage, and even veggies, and arrange them around your plot.

But if you're looking for something a little more permanent, and are planning a more dramatic makeover, then built-in containers are a great option. This garden, for instance, incorporates pockets of planting into its multiple tiers. Built in the same materials as the surrounding steps, they draw the eye around the space while keeping the overall look cohesive.

7. Up the sensory appeal with a patio pond

modern patio with pond and seating area

This small pond adds to a sophisticated theme

(Image credit: Ian Lamond/Alamy Stock Photo)

Garden ponds always make a lovely addition to a backyard, whatever their size. So if you're looking to up the sensory appeal of your space, why not consider one as part of your patio landscaping plans? Plus, they're good for wildlife, too.

This sleek, square design works well in a contemporary plot. And, it's been dyed black for extra drama against the pale paving. However, there are all kinds of shapes and styles to go for, so think about the sort of pond that would suit your garden's theme best.

We also like the small stretch of verdant lawn in this space, which brings a pop of lush green to the pared-back surroundings while tying in with bordering bamboos beautifully.

8. ...then add stepping stones for a playful touch

small walled garden with stepping stones across pond

Create a destination point

(Image credit: A Garden/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you are adding a stretch of water to your outside space and want to give it more of a unique twist, then perhaps you should consider some stepping stone ideas.

They're a great way to make a seating spot feel like a real destination in your garden, such as this small bench surrounded by plants. But even if you don't want to include a pond, they're a fun way of getting from A to B regardless – weave them through a lawn or around your flower beds for an exploratory sense of play.

9. Get creative with your dining area

outdoor dining table on decked patio

This chic table makes a bold statement

(Image credit: A Garden/Alamy Stock Photo)

Sometimes, it's worth thinking a little more outside the box when it comes to your garden table ideas, especially if you want to make a statement for your patio.

Take this stunning dining setup, for instance. The sleek table is suspended from the nearby half-height wall, creating a modern, 'floating' appearance that is sure to be a talking point.

Layers of frothy planting in a tonal scheme surround the space for a blissful backdrop. Overall, we'd say it's a gorgeous base for relaxing, whether you're hosting a sophisticated garden dinner party with friends or a family brunch on the weekend.

10. Arrange your patio around a pool

pool with zoned patio

The ultimate outdoor living space

(Image credit: Andrea Rugg/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you want a pool in your backyard, then you'll likely want a patio to surround it. After all, sun loungers are a must for post-swim relaxation, as is a parasol. And a seating area for serving up snacks, or gathering around a fire once night draws in, can be welcome additions too.

In this backyard, zones set up for different activities are arranged around a central pool. This gives the space structure while allowing easy swimming access from all sides. 

There are lots more pool patio ideas in our dedicated feature.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.