I would like to give you some ideas for setting up your garden, so when it comes to entertaining, it’s a space that works both functionally and aesthetically.

Firstly, if you don’t have a designed outdoor space you can simply drag the dining table outside, day or night, amid the greenery to create an informal gathering place for friends and family. Pick a place that is out of the wind and has some element of privacy. Locate the table near your vegetable or herb garden so guests can pick their own fresh lettuce or herbs for the salad and fresh flowers for the table. You can have tea or garden parties during the day on a hot afternoon or dine alfresco at night using different forms of lighting. Some of the most memorable dinner parties I have had were where I have just joined a couple of long tables together and had everyone eating and drinking under the night sky. Seeing as food is such a main part of entertaining, why not create an edible garden that has plants growing which you can harvest throughout the year …such as fruit, berries, nuts and vegetables?

The following are some key factors in creating a good entertainment area:

Create a seamless transition

Create a seamless transition from ind oors to out by locating the entertainment area in a logical area directly off or close to your main lounge or kitchen area. It needs to allow for easy flow and transport of food etc. If you have an area designated make sure it is large enough to cater for an average sized table with 4 chairs, anything less and you could run the risk of not being able to pull your chair out and not being able move around.

In terms of look and feel of the area, take some inspiration from the colours of the room leading to the garden; choose furniture and accessories to compliment the colours of the garden and the style of the house. Obviously you’re not required to have the area for entertaining right outside a room of the house. You can create a private secluded spot a small journey away from the house. You can build a small gazebo, freestanding pergola, or semi-covered area amongst the garden. Surround the area with sweet smelling plants and fantastic lighting for night-time effects.

Be practical

A good entertainment area should be practical in that it is either paved or decked so chairs and tables can sit people safely. There are a multitude of paving and decking materials out there to choose from; it all comes down to tying it into the overall theme or style you have decided to create. Some of the time these decisions are governed by budgetary considerations. You can use pebbles or a chip as a base, but these are not ideal, as tables and chairs do not sit as well on an uneven surface. This choice is better for a more casual setting.

Protection from the elements

You will need to think about some form ofoverhead protection from the sun and rain . The cheapest idea is to use an umbrella, which come in all shapes and sizes. You can also look at shade sails and awnings that are attached to the house. A more expensive option is for a pergola either attached or standing alone out in the garden. Pergolas that attach to the house require a resource and building consent, along with construction drawings to be submitted into council. They also can be designed with a number of different materials that suit the architecture of the house and the style of the garden.

Shade products :Find

Night time

A garden should also cater fornight-time entertaining . This is where lighting plays such an important role. You will get a lot more use of your gardens – especially in summer – if you are able to be out in it after dark. As well as making steps and pathways safe at night, gardens come alive at night, they can create an entirely new atmosphere and add some magic after dusk.

Outdoor lighting :Find


A key factor in creating a good entertainment area ishaving something to cook on . I do not know of many people who don’t have a barbecue sitting on their deck or patio outside. Barbecues are a cost-effective way of cooking meals without needing to design an outdoor kitchen area. I am designing smaller outdoor living spaces with cook-on fireplaces. There are some constraints with an outdoor fireplace. You would need to check in with your local council what the regulations are. Speaking of heating, if you are planning to entertain in your garden at night, you unfortunately still need to think about keeping warm as we’re not really tropical enough to be dining alfresco. Patio gas heaters are a great solution. Outdoor fires which run on gas or wood are more expensive but are certainly effective at keeping you warm at night. They give off a lovely cosy feeling.

A growing trend overseas is the demand for outdoor entertainment areas. Landscape design-build professionals are integrating audio-visual technology, lighting and climate control systems into outdoor patios, gazebos, kitchens and lounge areas. Now this really is for serious entertainers with a fair bit of spare cash!

So whatever your budget or lifestyle, make the most of summer and get your garden into shape for some serious outdoor entertaining.

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