When most people think of a patio, they conjure up a picture of a seating area right next to their house, usually just outside the back door. Of course, these traditional patios are great. They’re a perfect transitional space from the back yard to the home, creating a nice spot for relaxing, a good place to leave garden tools and muddy shoes outside the back door, and the ideal location for grilling.

Garage patio

The area next to this garage makes the perfect location for a satellite patio, with the garage providing a pleasantly sheltered spot for an informal outdoor room.

Photo Credit: Povl Eskild Petersen

Stone patio

This satellite patio is carved into the gentle upward slope of a back yard, nestled nicely into the curve created by a raised stone bed.

Photo Credit: Russell Hoffman

Brick patio

A satellite patio can be tiny but still highly functional. This one is just large enough to hold two chairs for a mini outdoor retreat.

Photo Credit: Emily Patrick

But there’s another type of patio also worth considering, a so-called “satellite patio.” Just the way a satellite orbits the Earth, a satellite patio is a secondary seating area that relates to – but is set apart from – the main house. The purpose of a satellite patio is to draw people away from your home and over to this other seating area. After all, have you ever noticed people standing outside the back door, admiring the plantings beyond but seemingly rooted in the spot, unable (or unwilling) to venture out and explore a bit? The satellite patio pulls guests away from that main gathering spot – giving them a new and pleasant place to sit and relax, as well as a whole new perspective of your garden and home.

Your satellite patio can be located just about anywhere and be nearly any size – small and intimate, or even larger than the “main” deck, porch or patio attached to your home. It can also be part of a landscape that doesn’t already have a primary patio.

Although not attached to your residence, the most successful satellite patios are still anchored to something. It’s human nature to avoid sitting smack-dab in the middle of a yard, with nothing nearby to offer shade or shelter. For that simple reason, the most comfortable satellite patios are usually backed up against a fence, hedge or the wall of a garden shed or garage. They’re also attractive, functional features when tucked into the broad curve of a flower bed – especially a raised bed – or attached to a beautiful water feature.

The shape of your satellite patio can take whatever form you prefer: a perfect circle, square or rectangle, or an abstract shape that fits into the curve of a bed or the lay of the land. The materials you use to create your patio are also endless. Brick, concrete pavers or flagstone are logical, easy choices, but your satellite patio could also be made like a low deck of lumber – with or without railings and steps.

If a satellite patio sounds like a little too much work for your taste, consider a mere satellite seating area, which serves a similar function. Creating satellite seating is as easy as adding some lawn chairs and a table to a grassy spot at the back of your yard – just include everything you’d put on a permanent surface. The area will still draw people out into your yard and provide another vantage point on your garden. It just won’t be as dry and firm as a “true” patio, and you’ll have to move everything when you mow.

So explore your yard from new angles and start thinking about the best place to launch a satellite patio. This little seating concept is an easy and affordable way to guarantee you and your guests a whole new adventure in gardening space!