17 Small Backyard Patio Ideas That Make A Big Impact

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Time for a makeover.

Laurey W. Glenn

Laurey W. Glenn

Maximizing a compact space like a small patio can be tricky. It usually ends up not just being underutilized, but entirely underappreciated. We get it. There are lots of questions: What are my top priorities? Will I overcrowd it? How do I add something unique? Outdoor space is meant to be enjoyed, so we’ll let you in on a little secret: Small spaces often have the most potential—all that’s needed is a little inspiration. Here, you’ll find all the vision you need to bring your small backyard patio to life this season.

Swing It

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

There’s few things quite as Southern as a porch swing. Swaying the day away is even more tempting when paired with a bench-turned side table, a basket of essentials, and a warm rug underfoot.

Go For The Bold

Photo: Tria Giovan, Stylists: Rachel Burrow and Liz Strong

Photo: Tria Giovan, Stylists: Rachel Burrow and Liz Strong

Combining patterns and colors, like these geometric green cushions with rainbow throw pillows and pale blue siding, breathes life into even the smallest spaces.

Go Green

Tria Giovan

Tria Giovan

As it turns out, all you need to create your own magical getaway is an iron pergola and a canopy of wisteria, which envelops you in the very best way. (Not to mention, keeps the sun out of your eyes.)

Lounge In Color

Laurey W. Glenn

Laurey W. Glenn

We believe covered patios are nothing if not an opportunity to add an unexpected color. Paint a playful shade on the ceiling, then incorporate complementary accessories and neutral furniture to balance it out.

Put It On The Shelf

Photos by Jean Allsopp

Photos by Jean Allsopp

The possibilities are endless with a simple shelf. Turn it into a gardening station, a bar, a spot for all the citronella candles you burn in the summer, and more. The best part: It doesn’t take up any of your ground space.

Take A Seat

Hector Sanchez

Hector Sanchez

Even in the tiniest of spaces, you can usually fit an iconic bistro set—which just so happens to be foldable so you can easily clear the space as needed.

The Door Is Always Open

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Turn the patio into an indoor oasis, building it out and adding French doors for a seamless, versatile space. It can be used as a sun porch, breakfast room, or even an art studio.

Make (A Dining) Room

Photos by Jean Allsopp

Photos by Jean Allsopp

Who doesn’t like to dine al fresco? Half of this narrow porch is dedicated to a teak dining set, thoughtfully chosen to keep the space from looking crowded by complementing the surrounding wood. On the other side is a seating area to keep the conversations flowing after dinner.

Fire Away

Photography Ralph Anderson / Styling Rose Nguyen

Photography Ralph Anderson / Styling Rose Nguyen

Petite patio or cozy corner? We’ll let you decide. Invite loved ones to curl up by the fire, a focal point for everyone to gather around, even on cold winter nights.

Make Your Bed

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

The star of this setup is the bed swing, which creates plenty of seating. If you need more though, just grab the pouf, bench, or garden stool, which fit effortlessly into the small footprint and make it feel more eclectic.

Arbor Days

Add height and definition while keeping the patio open and airy with an arbor. The structure is beautiful in itself, but even more so with some climbing flowers and a lantern or two.

All Grown Up

Design by Mark Thompson;  Photo: Robbie Caponetto;  Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Design by Mark Thompson; Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Growing the garden of your dreams doesn’t have to take up the patio or lawn if you have siding to spare. Made of planters hung on a wall, the vertical garden is exactly what it sounds like—and a fantastic way to maximize your backyard.

Up Your Alleys

Ralph Anderson

Ralph Anderson

Make the most of a narrow space with a pebbled path and simple yet effective landscaping. Chairs and a bench are essential, and make it feel even more like your secret hideaway.

Add Styles

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Those who are more focused on fashion than function can channel their inner magazine stylist by creating a vignette. A vintage pitchfork, a trio of lanterns, and a metal bucket tell a rustic story along with a planter of petunias, and can also be used for outdoor activities.

Stripe Away

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Make a statement from the ground up by painting or staining stripes onto your decking, a much more playful alternative to an outdoor rug that’s easier to accomplish with less square footage.

A Place In The Sun

If you already have a pool, all you’re missing is a cabana to go with it. The canvas curtains and blue-and-white color scheme are easy ways to channel the nautical theme without being too literal for such a primary part of the backyard.

Make It Work

Laurey W. Glenn

Laurey W. Glenn

Could you use a project space more than a patio? Turn it into one. A galvanized sink always comes in handy, whether as a potting station or a place to wash your dog.

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