Transform a Plain Patio into a Stunning Outdoor Space

When you only have a concrete slab for a patio, it's nice to know that there is something you can do to transform the space into a lovely outdoor area that has everything you need to sit outdoors during the spring and summer months.







It is so easy to transform a plain concrete slab into a wonderful outdoor space where you can entertain family and friends during the warmer months of the year. This homeowner had plenty of space and a plan in mind and that's all you really need to spring into action and turn a bland concrete slab into something that adds space for spending time outdoors. And best of all, cement is an affordable building material and is easy to use and you have the option to take the easy route and make your own concrete paver patio or buy readmade concrete pavers.





The existing patio area consisted of a small concrete slab located just outside the kitchen, but the area was large enough to extend into the garden itself to create a much larger and far more useful dining area. Being close to a kitchen is ideally what you want if you plan on setting up the area for al fresco dining and is also a boon when it comes to serving and cleaning up afterwards.



Due to a slope from east to west, the areaneeded to be levelled and low  retaining walls needed to be built around the central soon-to-be patio i order to split the ground into levels to accommodate for the slope.





When a garden slopes in any direction, don't forget that when building a retaining wall you need to allow for water drainage and this can be achieved by either leaving holes in the wall to allow water to drain through or, as in this case, laying a flexible pipe along the back edge of the wall to direct water run off away from the wall, or even by sloping the layers at a slight angle to ensure that water runs away from the property. You do not want water to pool or collect alongside the wall as it may end up pushing the wall over.





You have plenty of options for materials for building a retaining wall. You can use rock-face natural stone, clay bricks, or reclaimed bricks. If you are working on a very tight budget, think about using inexpensive stock bricks and applying a layer of plaster to finish off. Alternatively, if you are only building a small strip of retaining wall you could consider adding wall cladding to add a decorative finish.



Shop around for the best prices on brick, stone or artificial stone that can be used to erect a retaining wall. Going online will allow you to search for the best option at the lowest prices.



Take stock of the lie of the land and how the garden slopes to determine the best position for building retaining walls.



Once you have a level area to work with you can decide on the materials you want to use for flooring your new patio area.




Hire a plate compactor for the day to compress the ground before laying gravel or paving. At a cost of around R180 per day this ensures that the ground is well compacted before laying your choice of patio floor.



Again, you can choose from a wide range of materials ranging from concrete pavers to natural stone blocks. What you choose will obviously be determined by how much you have to spend on the project. For the new patio shown in this feature the homeowner put down 8 centimetres of crushed gravel to create a permeable area where water could drain naturally into the ground an avoid flooding or excess water being directed towards the buildings.



If you prefer something softer underfoot, bed concrete flagstones onto topsoil and fill in the gaps with low-growing groundcovers or leave enough space around the pavers to pack in soil for groundcovers or low-growing grasses.





Square concrete flagstone were bedded on a 5cm thick layer of smooth sand to create a visually appealing surface for the patio. You can fill in the gaps between the blocks with more gravel, river rock or small pebbles.




Try to design the area to avoid cutting concrete pavers. If you do need to cut pavers to fit, hire an industrial angle grinder for the day, or have someone cut the pavers for you.



For the patio furniture, if you do not already have, you can look at easy DIY options as shown below. An alternative to using concrete pipes is large fibreglass pots or perhaps make concrete pots for the supports.

Concrete pipes serve as a base for the solid PAR pine beam table. As an alternative to concrete pipes you can use cement fibre plant pots.

The DIY patio table is made using lengths of 32mm and 69mm PAR pine beams. The pine tabletop is supported on 44 x 67mm pine cross beams mounted underneath. Shop around for the best prices on these, as they can be pricey if you don't buy direct from a timber merchant. Treat outdoor wood with Woodoc exterior sealer for added protection from the elements, or let it age naturally for a more rustic look.





Rather than fork out for new patio chairs the original plastic chairs were given a couple of coats of Rust-Oleum 2X UltraCover spray paint in satin green apple. Clean the chairs well and wipe dry before applying a light spray. Allow to dry and apply a second coat. Repeat if necessary. At around R120 per can, Rust-Oleum spray paint offers an affordable way to revamp your patio furniture.





Add privacy panels with treated pine posts and PAR pine crossbeams. You will find ideas here for using reclaimed wood for fencing, or find instructions to build a slatted privacy screen. In this garden, the privacy fence serves to block off the view from a neighbouring property.





Circular concrete drain covers are piled up to create interesting flower boxes. This helps to tie the use of concrete into the finished patio design. A fun alternative to this is to use old tyres and paint these with Rust-Oleum spray paints in bright colours.

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