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These DIY Patio Upgrades Create an Inviting Outdoor Space

Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy a patio. Perhaps the patio itself needs some maintenance or it gets too hot and just isn't comfortable. These upgrades will make your patio better.

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Patio PlantsSlavica/Getty Images

Patio Gardening

Plants are on of the most important parts of patio design. They’re also one of the easiest patio upgrades. A well-placed touch of green or a blooming mixed pot adds ambiance and style. Flowers, herbs and plants will help make the patio space feel more homey, smell delightful and even attract butterflies. And, some plants, such as catnip, marigolds and rosemary, are known to keep mosquitoes away.

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Upgrade Patio Shade

When you want to relax and unwind outside, sometimes it’s just too hot. If your patio faces east, west or south, and you don’t have sufficient shade, there’s a good chance that the sun’s hot rays make it uncomfortable to sit out there during the daytime hours. So, if that lack of shade is keeping you off the patio, here’s what you can do.

Build a pergola and place your patio furniture underneath it to get a break from the sun. A fabric pergola cover give extra protection. If you want to go a less expensive route, seek shade under a patio umbrella, patio awning or a shade sail. And, as a future solution, plant a shade tree so that when it’s grown it will provide natural shade. There are plenty of options, no matter what your budget or your space.

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Family Handyman

Stain It

If it’s just the look of your patio you’re tired of, try staining it. Concrete paints and stains are quick and inexpensive patio upgrades. And the best news? You can do it yourself in just one weekend!

All you have to do is wet the concrete and spray on the stain which then becomes a permanent part of the surface. While it can fade over time, a sealer will help protect your patio from the elements. Most home centers sell concrete stains and the color is added just like it is with paint. A gallon will cover up to about 400 square feet.

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FenceJoanne Dale/Shutterstock

Build a Privacy Fence

If you feel a bit exposed while relaxing and entertaining on your patio, perhaps it’s time for a privacy fence. There’s no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to fences. Be sure to do plenty of research to make sure your fence is compliant with local building codes and that it will actually block your view of whatever it is you’re seeking privacy from.

Once the fence is in place, you can add hanging baskets, planters or decorative outdoor lights to make the space your own. Don’t want a wood fence? Depending on your space and landscaping, privacy plants such as fast growing and dense trees or shrubs may work. A privacy screen can also give you a sense of seclusion you’re after.

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Patio Furniture Upgrades for Comfort

Some patio upgrades require no building at all. Decorations and furnishing make a big difference. Nobody wants to relax on a boring and uncomfortable slab of concrete. Bring your patio space to life with lighting, flowers and comfortable furniture. Try adding lanterns or string lights so you can enjoy the space in the evening, after the sun goes down and if it ever gets cold, snuggle into an outdoor heated blanket to stay warm. Finally, make your patio a space where people will want to relax on your comfortable patio furniture. Make sure there’s a place for everyone to sit and add outdoor pillows, an outdoor rug and a portable fire pit to round out your outdoor living room.

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Easy Patio Floor Upgrades

If your current concrete patio is cracked and looking worn and weathered, there’s no need to tear it out and start over. Instead, just cover that old concrete.

Wooden deck tiles just snap together and come in several sizes and styles. One benefit is that the tiles can be removed and relocated if needed. They also stay cooler than concrete, so you won’t burn your toes when walking barefoot.

You can also try covering the patio with pavers, which come in countless styles and colors. You’ll need to scrub the edges of the patio, figure out the layout for the pavers and spread a flat bed of sand before laying the pavers, but you can cover an average-sized patio space with pavers in one weekend.

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Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.