Home > External Work > Terraces And Patios

Terraces And Patios

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 16 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Property Renovation Renovate Walls Homes

As long as you’ve got a reasonable amount of space then a patio or terrace can spruce up a garden area and turn it into a valuable asset for a very reasonable sum of money. A patio can open up a garden and blur the line between it and the house, which is all the rage in design circles. If the garden is on a hill, then terraces can make it more usable by giving you more flat areas that can be used for lawns, flowerbeds or areas for children to play.


A patio is an area of hard-standing just outside the back of the house, usually paved, where you can put things like a barbecue and garden furniture without the hassle of everything sinking into the lawn, damaging both the lawn and the furniture! Quite often it will also be a place to hang washing as you can go outside and come back in without getting mud all over your shoes. To make it long lasting you need to put down a good layer of hardcore and concrete before laying paving stones or bricks.

Taking care to make sure that these supporting layers are flat will make levelling the paving all the easier. Note that in fact you should aim to have the surface slightly off level, sloping gently away from the house to give water somewhere to go. If you don’t have a large spirit level for this job you can make one by securing a smaller spirit level to a long batten.

Dwarf Walls

Patios often have low walls surrounding them, purely as a decorative feature, and as there’s no structural element to them, it’s a good place for the novice to try out brick laying. Make sure you leave some gaps or drainage channels for water, and consider putting in some lighting to extend the summer evenings into dusk.


Strictly speaking, a terrace is a flat area that has been made on the side of a hill by building the hill up or digging part of it away, sometimes a combination of both. Doing both is often the easiest option as the material that you have to dig out at one point can be used to build up the other side. This lessens the chore of carting the rubble and topsoil away and disposing of it.

In contrast to a patio, a terrace doesn’t necessarily need a hard covering like stone or brick, it could be laid to lawn. But it will almost certainly need a retaining wall, and here’s where you’ll need the advice of a reputable garden landscaper at worst, and a structural engineer at best, if the hill is very steep. Each level will need a wall to stop it migrating downhill to join it’s neighbour.

Decking Takes Off

For the durable layer, whether for a patio or a terrace, the recent rise in popularity of decking has been phenomenal. This is largely because it’s cheaper and quicker to lay than a conventional hard surface. Despite the fact that there’s a bit of a decking backlash in the home and garden media, for a development project, decking is almost certainly the best route.

Go for Outstanding Results

If you are renovating to make a profit, then consider what you’re doing carefully and what the return on your investment will be. Look at other gardens in the area and assess what you need to do to make yours stand out in the selling contest. If the garden would otherwise be just a lawn with some tired borders, or a sea of mud (if you’ve had a lot of building work done) then some hard landscaping could be just the thing to make your project stand out.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Dav
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Hi I've build a porch to the front of my home, it a detached house with a garage that comes out 600mm passed the front of my house which is included…
    13 January 2019
  • Mitch
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    @Vicky - you won't get a grant for this sort of revovation. No one is going to pay you to renovate your own home, sorry. Not these…
    17 September 2018
  • Dan
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Hi I’m thinking of building a porch on the front of my house and I was wondering if I can join it to my next door neighbors house because I’m in a…
    16 September 2018
  • Vicky
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Hi I am looking for funding to reinstate a farm house that is over 100 years old and has been derelict for 30years. Do you know who I…
    15 September 2018
  • woody56
    Re: Adding A Porch
    I am looking at building a porch within the 3 metres guidelines so not needing planning permission. It will have approx 750mm brick base with…
    8 August 2018
  • Ingrid
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Hi. I'm making an enquiry on behalf of my elderly parents who live in a house in Scotland, built circa 1894. They are both on state…
    3 July 2018
  • Roget
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    @Aims - I don't think you can get grants for this sort of home improvements. Grants are much more scarce these days. A can of white…
    12 June 2018
  • Aims
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Hi I am a lone parent to 2 children and have always worked long hours as a nurse in the NHS, I simply can't afford to redecorate my…
    12 June 2018
  • Seiyune
    Re: Adding A Porch
    I need a side shelter/porch, partly for storage, partly for shelter and partly to protect a lobby that's freezing in winter and boiling in summer.…
    21 May 2018
  • buddie
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    i am in the process of having my late mothers house left to me...its about a hundred old house but in need of a lot of work as not…
    25 April 2018