How do I make my terrace livelier?


What is a terrace?

A terrace (from the French "terrasse", derived from the Latin word for earth = "terra") has been a flat, open area built in front of the house on the same level or a level below it since the 18th century. The purpose of the terrace is to create a harmonious, direct connection between house and garden. The paved surface allows furniture to be set up on the terrace, but there are no walls and mostly only a partial or temporary roofing ("patio"). The transition from the terrace to the garden can be at ground level, higher or lower, depending on the terrain, and can be reached via a few steps or a ramp, for example. Special forms of the terrace are roof terrace, veranda, esplanade and the classic seat, which is not adjacent to the house, but is located in the middle of the garden.

Terrace shape and size

In the architectural design of a terrace, the design of the house should always be in the foreground. The shape of the terrace is based on this to create a harmonious overall design. Depending on the shape and size of the property, the terrace can be angular or rounded, elongated, square or encircling a corner of the house. Whether the terrace connects to the house at ground level or can be reached by steps depends largely on the architecture of the house and the location of the room from which the terrace is to be entered. A sunken terrace surrounded by flower beds or flower boxes looks homely and cozy, while a raised terrace allows a good all-round view of the garden.

In terms of size, the terrace should keep an appropriate proportion between the house and the garden. Terraces that are too small are narrow and difficult to furnish; terrace areas that are too large quickly appear cool and uncomfortable, especially when the garden furniture and plant pots are cleared away in winter. Also think in advance for what purpose you mainly want to use the terrace. Should small children be able to play and crawl on it? Should there be space for a sun lounger? Would you like to set up a lounge corner or a large dining table with a grill, or are you even planning an outdoor kitchen?

The alignment according to the course of the sun

The orientation of a terrace area usually goes to the south or west, as this is where the solar output is highest. South terraces are the perfect feel-good place for sun worshipers, west terraces lure with warm evening sun after work. If you have breakfast on the terrace, an east terrace with morning sun is suitable. Unfortunately, you don't always have the option of freely planning the placement of the terrace. Shadows from trees and neighboring houses also influence the lighting conditions individually, which must be taken into account when designing and planting.

The right terrace covering

A number of different materials can be used as a covering for the terrace: wood, WPC (Wood Plastic Composites), concrete stone, natural stone, ceramic tiles, clinker or gravel are the most common. When choosing the terrace covering, make sure that it is weather-resistant and that it does not get too hot when exposed to sunlight. Also check the care properties and requirements. Terrace wood is a living material and therefore looks very natural, but has to be treated twice a year. WPC decking is very easy to care for and quick to install, but it can easily look cheap and the product quality also varies greatly.

Ceramic tiles and porcelain stoneware as terrace coverings are particularly easy to keep clean, but can be slippery, while natural stone tiles have a naturally structured surface, but can easily scratch, get dirty and splinter. Impregnation is therefore recommended for these panels. Decorative gravel is easy to maintain and available in many color nuances, but it is a real dirt magnet, similar to exposed aggregate concrete slabs, which are inexpensive, but quickly accumulate moss and due to their coarse structure are not for everyone barefoot. When planning the terrace covering, also pay attention to its visual effect. The larger the tiles, the calmer the floor appears, but the more difficult they are to lay.

The terrace needs a substructure made of wood or concrete for sufficient stability. The structural requirements vary depending on the surface, for example, in the case of a ground-level terrace, the underground at the terrace space must be dug a few centimeters deep for the substructure. For heavy stone slabs, on the other hand, a level gravel bed is usually sufficient. Use screws and nuts made of stainless steel when screwing wooden planks so that there are no ugly discolorations from rust. Also plan the water drainage by a slight slope or drainage grooves. How you can build a wooden terrace yourself, we show you in our building instructions.

What does a terrace cost?

The cost of building a terrace depends on many factors. The most important factor is of course which material you choose. The most expensive are wooden terraces, although there are large price differences between the different types of wood. You can get a square meter of Douglas fir or larch wood for around 20 euros, for tropical woods such as Bangkirai, Garapa or bamboo you can calculate with prices from 60 euros upwards. Thermo wood made of ash or pine can cost up to 160 euros per square meter - in addition, the materials for the substructure, the foundation or the substructure and, if necessary, the laying costs are provided by professionals. For example, a square meter of wooden terrace made of thermo ash, made by a professional, can quickly add up to around 300 euros.

You can get away a little cheaper with stone paving or slabs - be it made of natural stone or concrete. The most expensive here is of course natural stone (for example 170 euros per square meter of basalt pavement, including installation by the landscaper), closely followed by large-format concrete slabs, which are becoming increasingly popular for terraces in new buildings. With a slab size of 1 meter x 0.5 meter, they cost around 70 euros per square meter (only the covering, without installation), but can hardly be laid without a professional and heavy equipment. Including substructure and installation by a professional, you therefore have to budget just under 160 euros. Conventional concrete pavers, which cost around 20 euros per square meter (around 110 euros with substructure and installation by a professional) or concrete paving slabs (25 cm x 50 cm, price with installation around 150 euros) are significantly cheaper.

Of course, you can save a lot if you build your terrace yourself, but in the implementation, in addition to the pure costs for the covering, there are also items that you might not necessarily have expected. This includes, for example, the rental of machines such as a mini excavator, which is needed to excavate the terrace area for the substructure above a certain terrace size, or a vibrating plate to consolidate the subgrade. The gravel base layer must also be taken into account. Therefore, when planning a new terrace, make a detailed list of all costs in advance and compare prices so that you do not experience any nasty (and expensive) surprises later.

Sun protection for the terrace

When it comes to sun protection for the terrace, there are very different solutions - starting with the classic awning with manual or automatic operation and the parasol, which can be flexibly placed. There are also other modern or classic solutions for roofing terraces. A sun sail has a special, organic character and can be stretched as required. Make sure that the bracing is sloping so that rainwater can run off. If you have clear preferences for sunbathing, you can install a permanent roof over your terrace, for example made of glass and aluminum or wood. A pergola that is covered with wine, wisteria or clematis in summer offers airy but effective protection from the sun.

The right garden furniture

The furniture on the terrace should be just as consistent as the furnishings in the rest of the house. Combine natural materials such as wood or rattan and fabric for a cozy flair. Tables made of glass and aluminum give clear structures and fit perfectly on stone floors. The space required by the garden furniture also plays a role: Heavy teak or lounge furniture requires a large terrace as a frame, while a compact balcony set or a filigree bistro table are the right choice for small areas. Regardless of the furnishing taste you have, make sure you use harmonious combinations. Whether floral upholstery or white linen covering - there is a large selection of patio furniture and accessories for every taste.

Privacy screen for the terrace

Due to the dense development, terraces are unfortunately often visible from neighboring houses and gardens or from the paths leading by. Then an additional privacy screen is needed. This should be as space-saving and inconspicuous as possible, but at the same time not restrict the view from the terrace too much into your own garden. Wooden trellises are ideal here, which not only keep curious glances away, but also the wind. Tall potted plants can be placed on the edge of the patio for the same purpose. With a flowing transition from the terrace to the garden, tall flowering shrubs such as jasmine, lilac or monk's pepper serve as a natural border. Another suitable privacy protection plant is bamboo. Planted in a narrow channel along the terrace side, it protects against wind and unwanted glances.

Plant the terrace

The amount of sunlight on the terrace varies depending on the direction of the compass. This is the main starting point for choosing your planting. A huge selection of robust balcony and container plants with different requirements in terms of light, location and care is available in specialist shops. Annual potted plants, which are renewed every year, or hardy woody plants such as boxwood or large ornamental grasses are usually used for terrace greening. Set in pots and tubs, perhaps tiered on a plant staircase, the flowering plants create a seasonal mood. Even tall trunks in pots have great ornamental value on the terrace.

Fresh herbs in pots or boxes give off a spicy scent and can be used straight away in the kitchen. Fragrant roses, lilies or jasmine also fill the air with their fine aroma. Ornamental foliage plants and grasses give the terrace planting structure and the eye a quiet spot to linger. Attention: Mediterranean potted plants such as citrus trees or oleanders are only suitable for terrace planting if you have the opportunity to overwinter the plants in the house. Tip: Include the greenery in the terrace design right from the start. For example, plant boxes embedded in the floor can serve as a border. Individual mini beds integrated into the pavement also look great on the terrace. Raised bed team edge of the terrace can be used as a privacy screen.

Lay out terraces correctly

The trick when creating a terrace is the balance between privacy and openness. As a sociable, personal retreat, the terrace should offer the opportunity for undisturbed relaxation, but at the same time be so open that the garden can be overlooked and visited. Therefore, consider the angle and height at which you want to create the entrances to the garden. Should there be a staircase or a door? Or is the terrace directly adjacent to the large play lawn? Do you pursue special shapes and clear contours with flower beds, or do the individual elements flow directly into one another? Tip: If you are planning to build a new terrace, visit garden shows and public gardens. There you will see a number of different design options implemented.