Turn you backyard into an oasis to unwind with your special someone after a hectic day at work. A patio gives you a place to sip a glass of wine and watch the sunset or just enjoy each other's company. It just takes a little effort and not much cash to turn that slab of concrete into an inviting outdoor room. Start on a Saturday morning and you'll be ready to wine and dine by Sunday afternoon.
Glam It Up
Your concrete patio needs some touches to give it pizzazz and personality. Choose a theme for consistency. For example, if you've always dreamed of a vacation south of the border, use serapes as table runners, wrought iron lanterns for lighting and bright throw pillows in orange, turquoise, green and yellow. A beach-side feel is obtained with lots of potted plants -- keep them up off the concrete with pot stands. Folding lounge chairs from the drugstore are cheap and harmonize with the mood. Keep colors cool, in hues of green and blue. Spray paint is a frugal decorator's best friend. Find second-hand rattan furniture at yard sales or thrift stores, give it a good scrubbing and then a couple coats of spray paint for a sparkling new look.
If you don't have a patio, you can make one. Concrete pre-cast stones are available in lots of different colors, shapes and styles and range in price from a $1 to $5 at the time of publication in May 2012. That's dirt cheap. No mixing or mucking about. Just level off the ground and place the stones. Then fill in between the stones with pea gravel. Another alternative is to place square stones as close together as possible. Use a variety of colors to visually break up the patio so you won't notice any small gaps. Concrete stones are available to mimic the look of flagstone for a different vibe.
Expand the Patio
Houses often have a small patio leading from the living room or kitchen to the backyard. Expand that small concrete patio into a space large enough for entertaining without breaking the bank or your back. Pouring additional concrete yourself is a challenge and for someone who's not an expert, and the color, texture and height probably won't match the original patio. Much easier: Expand the patio with concrete pavers or stepping stones. Create different areas using different stones. For example, set your grilling area off with stones set in gravel so when the stones get grease-stained you can pop them out and replace with new stones.
Make a tired-looking or stained concrete patio look almost new again. It's a frugal approach to updating your hardscape. You have several choices. Most won't require more than a weekend of work and few if any special tools. Just remember you won't be able to walk on the patio for a day or two. If that's a problem do the patio in sections. The first step is to clean the concrete to remove grease and dirt. Use outdoor house paint or paint specifically for concrete in one shade or make a pattern with several shades. Paint cost between $20 and $30 per gallon as of May 2012, so it's a minor expense. Concrete stain will permeate the top layer of concrete. Stain cost about $25 per gallon in that same time period. Get creative and use several shades to mimic the look of natural stone.
- "Great Ideas for Your Garden"; Jane Courtier et al.; 2003
- "Backyard Blueprints"; David Stevens; 2002
- "Susie Coelho's Everyday Styling"; Sue Coelho; 2002
Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.