In planning and designing a garden, the project’s single largest expense is usually the hardscape, in particular, the patio and walkways. And the cost of the hardscape is dependent on the materials chosen, the preparation required, and the size and shape of the surface. Details Landscape Art has been advising clients in the art of patio and walkway design, and building functional, beautiful patios through the North Bay since 1991.

Balanced landscape design

Although the surface materials are an important aesthetic and financial decision in the process, we believe that function comes first. The patio must be the correct size and shape to accommodate the dining table and chairs, the fire pit, or other required furniture. The number of adults and children dining is to be considered, as well as the number entertained at gatherings, with sufficient space to move around, to relax. We would never recommend sacrificing size for materials – better to have a comfortably larger patio and use a less expensive surface material than vice versa.

If ta dining table and chairs is to be placed on the patio, it needs to be large enough to be able to pull the chairs out from the table to sit down, and to be able to walk behind the chairs to serve food and otherwise move around to socialize. If there is a second table or other furniture, there needs to be space between these elements for easy traffic flow.


Walkways should likewise be wide enough to accommodate foot traffic. An entry walkway from the street or driveway to the front door should be from four to six feet wide, maybe flaring at either end. A s

eldom used walkway from the patio around to the side gate, likely to be travelled by one person at a time can be from two to three feet wide.

We like curves. Square or rectangular configurations tend to be a waste of space, since the corners are generally not utilized. If this type of shape is required, we usually recommend cutting the corners at a 45-degree angle. The most efficient use of space (and the most economical) is the circle…a close second is the kidney shape. Either curvilinear shape also helps to break up the monotony of the rectangular house on the rectangular lot.

If the property is sloped, we sometime build split level patios with steps connecting the two (or sometimes three) levels. We have done several multi level patios consisting of two intersecting circles which is an interesting configuration.

Zwerin Patio

Another split level style is to have two intersecting diamond shaped patios (square patios set on a forty five degree angle).

Then when the patio and walkway design is complete and the sizes and shapes have been determined, we can do a square footage takeoff. Once the size is known, the surface material can be selected. Usually we have a fixed ‘per square foot price for various surfaces, and, by just doing the math we can figure a total cost to fit the homeowner’s available budget.

Details Landscape Art is one of the finest patio and walkway design contractors in Sonoma County.