Use these outdoor concrete patio ideas to add color and functionality to your backyard design. Includes seating ideas, container plants, and how to provide shade.
Our tiny patio is open for the season!
Creating a cozy and inviting outdoor space doesn’t necessarily require sprawling grounds or large budgets. Small concrete patios can transform even the tiniest areas into relaxing outdoor rooms.
The ideas I’m sharing today will inspire you to unlock the hidden potential of your outdoor area, no matter how big or small, and create a backyard oasis of your own.
Good Things About Concrete Patios
- Small & easy to manage: We had a very small patio space at our house on Sutton Place, and when we found our current home, I was very happy to find almost the same set-up. The existing concrete patio we have now is smaller, but that’s OK with me. The concrete slab has ample space for extra seating during the summer months, yet is small enough to manage with very little effort.
- Low maintenance: In my experience, no outdoor space is maintenance free…but a poured concrete patio comes very close. Our current outdoor patio is just six years old, and it’s in great shape.
- Easy to clean: Nothing could be easier to clean and keep clean that a poured concrete patio. Before we were ready to get the patio set up, I cleaned it off with the jet setting on my garden hose. Personal tip: after the initial deep clean, the best way to keep a small outdoor space tidy is to use a small cordless blower.
- Patio dimensions: 16 ft. x 12 ft.
- Table dimensions: 39 in. x 75 in.
- Potting bench dimensions: 42 in. long x 24 in. wide x 32 in. high.
- Planters are 16 in. square by 16 in. tall.
- Fence: 4 ft. tall, pickets spaced 3 in. apart.
- Space between fence and patio filled with rocks: 32 inches.
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Where We Started
The first thing we did was install a fence. We did not opt for a privacy fence, and instead chose a 4 ft. high white picket fence to keep Millie safe and corralled. It completely changed the overall look of our backyard, and immediately became one of the focal points. We chose the design in order to avoid a closed-in feeling, and to give our yard a classic and timeless look.
Since I was working with a plain, hard surface, I knew I needed to provide seating, coziness, and add our own personal style. I began with what I already had:
- Patio furniture: another focal point of our outdoor area is a white Polywood table and chairs set. This is our third summer using the set, and it is still in excellent shape. It has a very classic look, looks amazing with the fence, and is a great place to hang out and have lunch.
- Faux galvanized planters: I purchased two of these planters a few years ago, and used them on the Sutton Place porch. Last summer I added one more, but the area felt unfinished. The space in the rocks needed more than 3 planters, so I splurged and bought two more!
I then added:
- A potting bench under an out-of-the-way window, and I have to say that I absolutely love it! I’ve wanted one for a very long time, but never had the perfect spot. It’s a great way to lift my herbs up off the ground, and it adds interest and coziness to the small space.
- Decorative pillows and cushions: It’s easy to dress up your seating area with colorful and comfortable pillows and cushions. This can add pops of color and make the space more inviting.
- Container Garden: Using planters I already had, plus a few new ones, I added color and life to our patio by planting annuals. It’s best to choose plants that thrive in containers, and complement your personal style.
Patio Cover Ideas
Providing shade to our backyard patio was very important because it sits in full sun. I recently researched the installation and cost of retractable awnings. Although they are easy to use and beautiful, I felt the cost was high, so I opted instead for a simple patio table umbrella.
I chose dark navy blue in a 3-tier design to provide shade and color. The 3-tiers provide a little more wind control than an umbrella with just two tiers. It also has LED lights included on the underside of the umbrella, which will be a nice touch at night. Patio umbrellas are a portable and affordable way to cast shade on a sunny patio. Although I would still love to have a professionally installed awning, right now I have better ways to spend my money!
Sun Container Garden Ideas
When I was choosing the plants for the containers in our small backyard, I did something I’ve never done before. I simply chose the prettiest plants I could find, in fun and bright colors. I was careful to select plants that would thrive in full sun, and I coordinated the colors to provide visual interest. Five plants were added to each container:
- In the middle: ‘Lollie’s White Chocolate’ Argyranthemum (basically little white daisies)
- In the four corners:
- ‘Lime Heart’ Sweet Potato Vine
- ‘Shamrock Rose’ Lantana
- ‘Margarita Cool Purple’ Osteospermum (African Daisy)
- ‘Deep Lavender STREAM’ Lobularia (Alyssum)
By filling in the unused space between the fence and patio with decorative rocks, I was able to make a spot to set the containers that was out of the way. They don’t take up valuable space on the patio, and I don’t have to worry about them leaving marks on the concrete.
I can’t wait for the plants to grow and fill in the containers. If all goes well, I’ll be back in mid to late summer with an update!
To save on potting soil, and decrease the weight of the containers, fill the bottom third with plastic water bottles or other items from your recycling bin. See these easy planters for more information.
More Budget-Friendly Ideas for Patio Decor
Remember to consider your personal style, the amount of space available, and any specific functional requirements when choosing decor items for your small concrete patio.
- Fire Pit Area: If room allows, a small fire pit adds coziness and light in cooler weather. Solo Stoves are perfect for small patios.
- Outdoor Rug: Lay down an outdoor rug to soften the concrete surface and add a cozy feel. Select a rug that complements your patio furniture and overall design theme.
- Hanging Plants: Utilize vertical space by hanging planters or baskets from railings or hooks. Cascading plants like ivy or trailing flowers can add visual interest and create a beautiful atmosphere.
- String Lights: Install string lights above the patio area to create a warm and inviting ambiance. They can be hung between walls or posts, or draped across the space.
- Privacy Screens: If your patio lacks privacy, consider adding screens or trellises adorned with climbing plants. This will create a secluded and intimate space.
- Outdoor Art: Hang weather-resistant artwork or sculptures to add personality and style to your patio.
- Small Water Features: Install a small water feature like a tabletop fountain or a mini pond to introduce soothing sounds and a sense of tranquility to your patio.
- Outdoor Curtains: Install outdoor curtains on a pergola or railing to provide shade, privacy, and an elegant touch to your patio. Choose lightweight and weather-resistant fabrics.
What We Gave Up
The one thing that’s missing from our patio is a grill or outdoor kitchen. A grill would have been a great addition to the dining area, but there just wasn’t ample space. This would be a game-changer for some people, but it wasn’t for us. We keep our grill in the front corner of our garage, and pull it out onto the driveway when we want to use it…which isn’t very often! I felt that taking up precious space with a seldom-used grill wasn’t a good decision, so we opted for the next best thing.
The most important thing about our backyard is that it fits the season of life we’re in right now. It’s a small space, with an inviting atmosphere, and it’s easy to maintain. There is functionality, color, and a variety of natural elements. It’s right out our back door, and it’s the perfect spot for Millie and I to hang out!
Shop + Source
*I used things I already had for this backyard design, and many of them have been around a while! Some of the items are no longer available, so I’ve tried to find similar options.
- Polywood table and chairs
- Patio umbrella
- Square faux galvanized planters
- Potting bench
- Small round faux galvanized planters
- Herb garden markers (similar but smaller)
- wood dough bowl
- garden tools
- garden gloves
- large galvanized steel watering can
- Pillow option 1 | Pillow option 2
- Placemats (similar…I like actually like these better!)
- Melamine tableware
- Tervis tumblers
- Navy flatware