Downsize your patio plans to suit your recession-battered budget. Cash-conscious homeowners are ordering up shorter seat walls because they require less stone; settling for less elaborate barbecues because the purchase price is lower; and choosing more economical materials so they can do more for less.
Cover up your scratched, cracked or stained patio floor. It’ll be easier than you think if you use “overlay pavers,” which save you the trouble of ripping out your old floor. Belgard's
1.5-inch concrete pavers, about an inch thinner than regular pavers, lie in an inch of sand applied directly over top of your old concrete, flagstone or other patio floor, and cost about $2 per square foot.
Save the expense of building an outdoor fireplace or barbecue. Instead, install a pre-fab version that looks just as nice as custom-built.
Consider a portable, store-bought barbecue instead of a built-in version. You have hundreds of choices, from a traditional, charcoal-fired Weber Kettle to a top-of-the-line Viking gas grill with an infrared burner and double side burners. Even if you scale back the number of cabinets, drawers and cooking options, you can buy a pretty nice portable model that fits your budget.
Go with a gas fireplace instead of a built-in, wood-burning model to save money and get around no-burn restrictions on bad-air days. Tip: Hire a professional to hook your gas line up to your outdoor fireplace.
Take a look at travertine. It’s gaining on flagstone as a Phoenix favorite for patio floors, walls and countertops. It’s a natural stone in the limestone family that comes in shades of white, beige and reddish brown. A tip: Seal it to protect it from the heat and spills.
Invest in LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and shy away from incandescent and halogen outdoor lighting. LEDs cost quite a bit more than standard light bulbs, but they last so long you might never have to replace them. Plus, they use so little electricity that you might see a difference in your utility bill. New versions of LEDs emit light that’s closer to standard, incandescent bulbs than they used to be, and they come in multiple colors as well as white.
Garden in containers. If you’re short on yard space or just don’t want to spend a lot of time tending to a large garden, plant your annuals and vegetables in containers on the patio. Build the containers from travertine, pavers or another material that matches your outdoor décor if you don’t mind leaving them in permanent position. Tip:
Figure out how the container will drain before having it built. You can build in drain grates if your containers are permanent.
Darken your palette. Earth tones like browns and terra cottas are “in", replacing the green-and-gold color scheme that’s been popular for so long. Subtle is “in”; bold is “out.”