Having a patio lets you enjoy your garden in a bit more comfort and style than simply putting a few chairs on the lawn. It also protects the ground by keeping furniture and footfall to a hard surface, away from plants and grass.
For many people, the patio is something that only gets used when the weather is nice. It's understandable, of course — nobody wants to sit outside burning up, freezing or getting soaked while pretending to have a nice time.
But there's something nice about eating or relaxing outside when the weather is less than perfect, as long as you can still do so in comfort. Make your patio an all-weather seating area, and you'll be able to spend time outside with family and friends, no matter what the weather is doing.
If you already have a patio, you're stuck with whatever material you chose originally, which shouldn't cause you too many problems.
However, if you're having a new one built, it's worth considering a permeable surface material like brick or gravel. Alternatively, although concrete and various stone slabs aren't porous, they can be laid over gravel with spaces between so that water can run through.
This stops rain pooling on your patio, so you won't have to wait for it to dry off before you can use it.
Choose metal or treated wood, and you'll be able to leave your furniture outside all the time. Just make sure you get chairs with removable cushions so they can be stored indoors but put out for extra warmth and comfort when you need them.
To stop rain from pooling and puddling on the table, look for one that has gaps between planks.
A patio awning is one of the most important things you can get if you want to use your patio in either pouring rain or unbearably hot direct sunlight.
Look for a folding one that doesn't need to be kept up all the time, as you'll otherwise miss out on the sunshine when you want it.
For cold days and evenings, a chiminea is both warming and attractive. A fire pit is another safe way to have your own fire outside, and you can even cook on it by adding a grill.
Alternatively, gas or electric patio heaters will certainly warm up the area, and some of them can be used safely with an awning up. That way, you can sit outside even when it's cold and raining.