Margaret Hinz, an owner of Family Tree Landscape Nursery, said the No. 1 tip for homeowners looking to add a patio is to talk through their plans with a professional.
“The important thing is talking to the nursery — finding out what you need, what your plans are, and then making it the appropriate size so that you utilize it — so it’s beneficial, and not something you don’t like,” she said.
Brandon Delaney, the assistant manager at DeCook Landscaping, stressed the importance of communication with contractors — making sure you both have the same idea of what you want, and perhaps looking at photos of past work they’ve done for comparison.
Pro tip: Those photos will also show how well your contractor cleans up after the project.
Look for “lean cuts, proper drainage, basically the whole aesthetics of it,” Delaney said. And choose a location that’s near the home — you won’t want to walk 50 meters out to enjoy the new space.
Size matters. Plenty of homeowners underestimate the size of their new outdoor space, Hinz said. A 10-by-10 area, for example, is not large enough for multiple chairs and walking space around them. And no one wants to sit with their feet in a firepit — or put their chair on the grass, which defeats the purpose of a patio in the first place. Twelve-by-12 or 12-by-15 builds may work better.
“We want to make sure you’re aware of how big a patio should be,” she said, “thinking of what’s going to go on the patio.”
A previous patio by Family Tree Landscape Nursery (contributed photo)
Stability check. The material you choose for your deck doesn’t matter as much as you think it does — what you really want to pay attention to is the base. Your contractor should put together a strong base that can withstand Minnesota’s changing seasons (yes, it’ll require some digging).
“What’s really important about the patio is not what you see on a daily basis,” Hinz said. “It’s the process of putting it together. … You have to have it packed down well enough with certain layers — and the depth of those layers — in order to have the patio not shift, not separate.”
The easiest thing for homeowners to look for is a breakdown of the build on the estimate. Be sure to ask questions — a reputable contractor should be able to thoroughly explain what they’re doing to keep your patio stable.
Private eyes. Looking to jazz things up a bit? Firepits are increasingly popular in Rochester, Hinz said. Outdoor grills and cooking areas also let people use their yards to the fullest.
A sitting wall adds privacy from the neighbors, Delaney added. And for buyers with the cash to spend, the sky’s the limit — pillars, water features, and more can all be added on.
A previous patio construction by Family Tree Landscape Nursery (contributed photo)
Wait your turn. Some clients want their new patio done within days or weeks of calling, and go with the first contractor with an opening, Delaney said. That can backfire in terms of quality. Depending on weather conditions, it’s more likely that a contractor will need about two months between bidding and installation.
It’s on the house. Both landscaping contractors declined to give a cost range for patio installation. But there are a few elements that will affect the price of installation.
Megan Magee, also of Family Tree, said the landscaping business offers free appointments to assess each homeowner’s space, sketch out a possible patio, and give an estimate. If the owners want a full design laid out, the business charges $400 (on credit).
Beyond that, materials (cheaper plastic vinyl; paver edging, “which looks a little nicer”; or different stones) can jack up a total cost. Building on uneven ground may not make a huge price difference — unless Family Tree has to put in a retaining wall, Magee added.
“Call us and set up an appointment regardless,” she said. “I don’t want to discourage people, like, ‘Oh, that sounds really expensive, because if someone says to me, ‘I didn’t want to spend that much,’ I say, ‘Well, what were you thinking?’ ”
It’s easy enough to build up a patio piece by piece, she said — starting with what’s most important, then adding on other elements as the homeowner wants and is able.