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Garden design for entertaining: three tips for creating a fantastic space for outside entertaining

What is our garden’s primary role? Is it somewhere for our children to safely play? Is it a quiet space for us to escape to after a long day or week at work? Or is it somewhere to enjoy spending time with our friends and family. Increasingly, I am asked to help our customers create an outside area in which they can socialise and enjoy the company of others.

 

Perhaps it’s a legacy of the pandemic and the isolating lock downs, or perhaps it’s because more of us are starting to see our gardens as an extension of our homes? Either way, here are my top three tips for getting to grips with a fantastic entertaining garden:

 

 

1. Give it some space

If our garden is large enough then it really is a good idea to devote sufficient space for entertaining. We may want a big table and chairs for al fresco dining, or maybe a couple of outdoor sofas for a few g&t’s? The key is to ensure that the space doesn’t feel cramped.

 

There is a fine line…we don’t want to it to feel like a pedestrianised high street, but we do need enough room to be able to accommodate the furniture we’d like and still have space to walk around. Built-in seating can work, but I find that freestanding tends to be more flexible.

 

 

2. Think about floor surfaces

Whether we want paving, decking or gravel, we’ll obviously want it to look good. But we’ll also want it to be practical, so let’s find a paving material that isn’t so textured that our table rocks constantly, a decking that isn’t too slippery, or a gravel that is difficult to walk on.

 

Let’s think about colours too. Lighter materials can make a space feel larger, but might be too bright in very strong sunlight. Darker colours can lend themselves to more intimate spaces.

 

 

3. Let there be light

Given that we are probably likely to want to use our entertaining space in the summer evenings, it seems sensible to consider how we can use garden lighting to create atmosphere. I always think the key is to keep things simple and subtle. Warm white LED lights can create a lovely glow, and are best used to highlight a focal point, uplight some attractive planting or provide navigational support for paths or steps.

 

Let’s think about being able to have different lights on at different times depending upon how we are using the space. Most importantly, let’s plan our lighting right from the start- it can make so much difference.