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I have seen some extremely nice patio umbrellas with large bases that can cover quite a large area on a patio. These do not attach to the home and usually do not attract HOA disaprovals. I'd also recommend observing some of your neighbors and see what they have done to create shade on their patio. Finally contact your HOA and see what they suggest.
There are several options you might select to create a "usable" outdoor area for you, family and friends.
1) Have a concrete pad poured to extend the current pad you have or to create a new one. These are durable and last decades with the minor issue of possible cracking.
2) Create a backyard stone pad. Stone pads look great and don't have the cracking issues of concrete pads.
3) If cost is a major issue, create a pebble or gravel area. Although it's not the best idea to walk on barefooted, it does create a flat area for a picnic table or beach chairs for example.
4) A gazebo is a wonderful way to create a sitting area outside that that doesn't have a patio. It also creates shade and is quite eye pleasing.
5) A wood or composite deck can create a great outdoor area and it doesn't necessarily have to be attached to your home.
Once you chose your method of backyard area, accent it with solar or electric lights, sun shades, furniture, plants and yard art to make it trully yours and to add character to your outdoor living space!
Stores like menards and home depots, etc. do in fact sell some things like these. If you're looking to have someone out to install, and do everything for you, you can try US Patio Systems. They have great products, great staff, and they're great with timing!
Mark Miles, Pavers have become extremely popular over the years. Please make sure the pavers are on a wet set concrete so you have the longevity you desire. A dry set can cause cracking with settlement. Ken (Red Carpet Remodeling)
This should be a simple project. It depends if you are hiring a contractor or DIY. You can use pavers or poured concrete. Either way, one of the key steps is prep. Make sure you use the correct materials for drainage, rock, sand and do the proper levelling and tamping. There are many excellent ideas at Unilok (pavers) or you can even do a poured concrete patio (with colors added) and stamp it with a pattern. Check out your local BBB for a concrete contractor, or if it is DIY do some investigating on YouTube.
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