How to determine the best size for your patio

Landscape designer Nest Outdoors shows you how to determine the best size for your patio

Have you been daydreaming about summer nights, holding a cold drink, and chilling with friends on your new patio?

You have?

Perfect! We've been dreaming about the same thing.

Let's talk about the details of your daydream... How many people are you surrounded by? Does everyone feel relaxed, cool, and comfortable? If so, that means the patio is a perfect size.
Being landscape designers as well as installers, we think about patio size a lot. Make no mistake, we think about cold drinks and gatherings with friends a lot too, but we wouldn't be happy if that gathering was on an improperly sized patio.
The correctly sized patio is one of the most important decisions when designing an outdoor living space. It can make or break the functionality and happiness factor of your backyard so let's explore how we think about sizing your patio just right.

Key takeaways from this landscape design trends article from Nest Outdoors:

  1. The standard patio size has increased as outdoor living becomes more popular.
  2. The best patio size is determined by identifying the primary reason for adding a new patio.
  3. The number of people who will use the patio regularly and on special occasions is a major factor in determining the appropriate size.
  4. The patio should be designed based on your property size and complement your overall landscape design.
  5. Return on investment for a new patio can be calculated in two ways.

What do we consider a standard patio size?

Although the answer may differ nationally, the most common patio size we design for our clients in Southern New Hampshire is approximately 400 square feet. The standard side has increased over the years as homeowners have begun to prioritize outdoor living. This size generally is suitable for most gatherings and daily use cases as it can comfortably accommodate about 12 people and house a decent size dining table or an arrangement of comfortable chairs around a glowing fire pit. 

In terms of dimensions, a typical footprint of a 400 square feet patio is twenty feet long by twenty feet wide. Although the exact shape can vary significantly based on many factors, such as its proximity to other landscape features like a pool, trees, or structures or if the design calls for curved or straight edges. Some patio shapes are based on available space, and some are based on aesthetic choices influenced by your home's architecture and personal style. Based on the growing trend of increasing outdoor living space, we now consider this a new "standard" size and a good starting point for most landscape designs as it's small enough to not feel too large for daily use and large enough for extended gatherings like birthday parties and cookouts. 

Multiple factors help us arrive at the perfect patio size for your project but first is why you want to have a patio installed in the first place. 

Let's identify the primary reason you want to add a new patio

The best patio size for your needs is discovered by identifying why you want to add a new patio in the first place.

You might choose to add a patio to your backyard for many reasons. Generally, the biggest reason is to add additional daily living space of some sort. But when we dive a little deeper, a primary motivation is uncovered that helps determine the proper square footage for your project. 

What's most important to you might be a well-designed space to grill and share a meal with your family once or twice a week, which can suggest at least a medium size patio of about 360 SQ FT based on the size of your gang. A comfortable, intimate spot in the fresh air for your morning coffee could be what you dream about most, which directs us to think about more intimate spaces of 200 Sq Ft or less. Or, it could be that your inner extrovert feels neglected, and you need to remedy that by having a space to gather and be the life of the party. If the latter is the case, we think of more generous patios of 600+ SQ FT, perhaps including an outdoor kitchen with a bar, a pool with a fire pit, etc. There are so many fun options to let the good times roll more often and in high style in a larger space!

The next factor to consider is how many people we need to design for. 

The standard side has increased over the years as homeowners have begun to prioritize outdoor living.

Wayne Lamarre - Owner Nest Outdoors

How many people will use your patio regularly?

A patio is often the centerpiece of outdoor living and is all about the people who will use it regularly.

This means you, your immediate family, and any other person lucky enough to call your residence their home will have the opportunity to look out the window anytime and be called outside to your new outdoor entertaining hub. That means we must customize it just right for you and your crew. 

The starting point is identifying the number of people using your patio daily. 

Is three the magic number? Or are there so many of you that you need to book a conference room every time you go out to eat? The answer will guide sizing your patio correctly.

If your patio is too small, you won't use it as often because it will feel cramped and uncomfortable. It's a sad affair indeed if you attempt to host a party on a summer night only to subject your guests to shuffling sideways to get around chairs that have edged into a walking area just to fit. It's the classic sign of an undersized patio and inevitably leads to bumped elbows and spilled drinks. Who needs that in their lives? 

What about entertaining or hosting events on your patio?

Once we ensure your patio functions well for daily use, we mustn't forget to size appropriately for those yearly traditions and special occasions that will take place in your new outdoor living destination. 

Suppose more than 15 people attend your legendary 4th of July bash. In that case, your patio and adjacent spaces should plan to offer at least 25-30 square feet per person. A patio that is in the range of the standard 400 square feet is a good starting point. Good design means we would also consider spaces like an adjacent deck or open lawn where people can mingle. 

Every type of gathering you may have, including the ages and interests of the people who attend, can influence the size and amenities that should be considered in your patio design. And when word gets out that you have a primo patio space, don't be surprised if you connect with friends and family more often. 

Now we turn our attention to how we make your patio the envy of the neighborhood. 

What other landscape features are you considering to enhance your new patio? 

Is grilling your thing, or do you prefer to lounge by the pool?

When determining the best size and shape for your patio, we must consider what other features it will need to function with, so you can do you. 

An outdoor kitchen, for example, requires extra square footage to simply allow for routine kitchen functions. Even a portable grill needs a dedicated space. Additional space around typical appliances like gas grills and side burners also provides a measure of safety. An excellent outdoor kitchen gives the cook the freedom to do their thing and keeps the kiddos insulated from any potential harm.  

If the pool is your thing, then your patio most likely needs to accommodate both dining and several lounge chairs so you and your BFFs can soak up the sun between swims. And if we take things to the next level by adding a fire feature for roasting marshmallows, then we need to up the square footage appropriately. 

The next step is to take stock of the size backyard all this fun will fit into. 

Customer Review

When we started the design process, we had no idea we'd have a space as enjoyable as we have now.

Scott & Lori, Hillsboro, New Hampshire

Is your patio the right size for your property? 

The right size patio for your property is an aesthetic and legal question. 

Aesthetically we want to consider the right balance between hardscaping (patios, walkways, walls, etc.) and softscaping (space for plants, trees, and lawns). This speaks to your property's overall size, context (rural vs. an urban lot), and landscape design intent.  

From a legal and environmentally responsible point of view, patios can increase the percentage of impervious square footage on your property. This means that stormwater will tend to run off on surfaces and raise the possibility of erosion rather than infiltrating naturally into the ground. 

Proper stormwater management is crucial in landscape design. Cities and towns can vary according to their regulations on the percentage of impervious surfaces they allow on a property, so we ensure our designs are optimal for both the environment and stay in the good graces of your city.  

Our last consideration for adequately sizing your patio is how long you will live with the fabulous outdoor space we designed for you. 

How long do you plan to stay on your property?

At Nest Outdoors, we always consider your return on investment (ROI). But we don't exclusively think of this as a financial metric. For most of our projects, it's a secondary consideration we call the happiness metric.

Yes, it is wise to understand how any outdoor living space affects the value of your home. In some cases, you may not want to invest more than 20% of the value of your home if you plan to move in the next few years. But suppose you plan to stay in your home for a decade or more. In that case, it is even wiser to factor in all the enjoyment you, your family, and your friends will experience over that time. This is the case for 99% of the landscapes we design. 

In short, if you're planning on living in your home for the long haul, it's worth investing in a larger patio. But a smaller, functional patio may be a better option if you're considering selling in the near future.

Needless to say, we prefer to design to maximize the happiness factor. 🙂 


Finding the right patio size for your backyard is like the perfect pair of jeans or the right-sized driver for your long game, and it's all about finding the ideal fit. As you can see, we consider many factors when determining the size of your perfect patio because getting it just right is worth it. Get your common questions answered before here you hire a landscape designer.

Wayne Lamarre is the owner of the Bedford landscaping and design company Nest Outdoors

About the author of this article

Wayne Lamarre

Wayne founded Nest Outdoors to expand great home-living experiences to your backyard. He combines his formal art, landscaping, and design education with over 25 years of project construction experience.

Learn more about Wayne

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Contact Nest Outdoors for your landscape design

Landscape designer Nest Outdoors developed this patio concept with stone walls for a client in Manchester NH

Nest Outdoors of Bedford, NH, designs and builds amazing landscapes throughout southern New Hampshire. The design above was one of three concepts designed for a homeowner in Manchester, NH.

FAQ - Patio Design in New Hampshire:


Q: What is the biggest patio Nest Outdoors has designed? 

A: The biggest single patio we've designed was 800 Square Feet. We've recently designed and installed a three-tiered patio design that exceeded 875 Sq Ft total and had ample room for a table, swim spa, and fire pit.

Q: What is the most common material used for a patio in New Hampshire? 

A: Without precise, quantifiable data, we speculate that bluestone is the most common natural surface for larger-budget projects, followed by clay pavers and concrete pavers. 

Q: Have any new hardscape materials been introduced for patios? 

A: Porcelain is a newer product being used in New Hampshire. One benefit of porcelain is a high reflectivity rate that creates a cooler surface in the sun. Another is that each piece is manufactured consistently and hasn't suffered from supply chain issues. 

Q: Why does Nest Outdoors focus on projects that include a patio?

A: We believe getting people together outside to create great memories through thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces improves lives. A patio is usually at the center of the best outdoor living projects.  

Contact us to uncover the hidden potential in your backyard!

Bedford landscape designer Nest Outdoors

Nest Outdoors

Outdoor Happiness Designed Just for You