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The idea of outdoor living has led to a strong movement away from a porch to something called a terrace in the northern states, and a patio in the southern states. The idea is to form a link between the house and the garden, creating added livability to both.

A patio or terrace has no fixed rules as to the size, shape, or location. They are most commonly attached to the house, where the primary function is to act as another living room. It may be a covered structure or open. The main requirement it that is has privacy, it is shaded from the streets or other distractions, instead allowing you to focus on your garden, lawn, and other pleasing sights.

The angle of an L-shaped house or the area in between the double L-shaped house offers a suitable place. If the line of the selected location is unbroken, the terrace will need to be related to the driveway side entrance or at a point that provided the best use for the house and the garden. The terrace is best kept at ground level, unless the ground slopes away from the house. This is the most inexpensive way to create and maintain a terrace.  

It is important to consider the location regarding the sunlight. The needs of this will vary depending on your location. In the south and California the patio can be used basically all year long, so it may be best to have it face the north to provide protection from the mid-day sun.

For all other areas, you will want to place your patio where it will get the maximum sunshine throughout the year. Here facing the south, southeast or southwest is appropriate. That way the sun will shine on your patio in the winter as well. You can get shade during the summer from umbrellas, awnings, and other types of equipment.

Remember that a paved patio absorbs the suns warmth, and can become very hot. Incorporate trees, grasses, and shrubs in your design to cool the air, a garden fountain will help to cool as well. If you have a small space, with only room for one tree, choose its position based upon the suns path, so it can give much needed shade!