How to Design a Functional Kitchen-Patio Garden

Setting up a spot near the door makes outdoor living easy

Fine Gardening – Issue 191
garden kitchen patio
Photo: Stephanie Fagan
Photo: Carol Collins

On the east side of our house, adjacent to the kitchen, a screened porch connects to an open patio with a built-in grill. Having a screened area for bug-free dining or nighttime reading is a delight, as is sleeping there under the ceiling fan on hot nights. We planted a Himalayan birch close to the patio to provide dappled shade and to screen the driveway. Its canopy gives a cozy feel to this space without blocking our long views to the east and south. The garden we see from the porch is the most viewed of all our gardens. Because it is the first garden we see in the morning and the first garden that guests see upon arriving, using plants with year-round interest is important. A comfortable seating area is the perfect place to relax while dinner is on the grill, or to catch some early morning sunshine with a cup of coffee.

Photo: Stephanie Fagan

Enhance a key view. This garden bed is seen from the kitchen, deck, and driveway, so it was important to include plenty of plants that look good over a long season. A sculpture by Jane Cohen anchors the composition and lends some year-round color.

Photo: Carol Collins

A screened area offers open views without the bugs. This breezy three-season room serves as a transitional area between the kitchen and the patio. Garden beds wrap around the patio and porch, tying the two spaces together.

Photo: Stephanie Fagan

The details that make it work

  • Grill convenient to kitchen door
  • Area enclosed by walls and hedging
  • Weatherproof year-round furniture
  • Soft lighting

Key plants

Himalayan birch ‘Globosa’ dwarf Colorado spruce ‘Hameln’ fountain grass
Himalayan birch

(Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, Zones 5–6)

‘Globosa’ dwarf Colorado spruce

(Picea pungens ‘Globosa’, Zones 2–7)

‘Hameln’ fountain grass

(Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’, Zones 5–9)

Variegated boxwood ‘Flaviramea’ yellow twig dogwood Rue
Variegated boxwood

(Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’, Zones 6–8)

‘Flaviramea’ yellow twig dogwood

(Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’, Zones 3–8)


(Ruta graveolens, Zones 4–8)


Key plants photos: Carol Collins (birch and boxwood), Jennifer Benner (spruce), Steve Aitken (fountain grass), (dogwood), Michelle Gervais (rue)


To learn how to design even more garden rooms, view the entire collection:

Create Garden Rooms That Draw You In

View Comments


  1. amandarossela 09/21/2022

    In my opinion all you need is a good layout and some patio furniture to make it functional. For example, on the American Furniture Warehouse website - you can find some of them

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