If you love outdoor entertaining, it’s the perfect time of year to start planning your next get together or party. Graduations are in full swing, long holiday weekends promise outdoor fun and backyard barbecues fill our calendars.
Whether you enjoy a springtime brunch, intimate dinner with friends, evening cocktail party or summertime poolside extravaganza, you need an outdoor space that works for you and your guests.
Ask yourself these questions to spark your imagination and start entertaining.
What’s Your Entertaining Style?
Do you love garden brunches or are you more of an evening cocktail party person? Maybe you’re both!
Take a moment to think about your entertaining personality. Consider the time of day that you’re likely to plan events, the number of guests you may potentially have and the types of events they may be.
A huge family reunion will have different entertaining requirements than an intimate dinner with friends. When it comes time for a Master Plan, start with your entertaining wish list.
Wondering what a Master Plan is? Read more about why a Master Plan is so important and how it can help you implement your dream project in manageable phases.
What’s Your Back Yard Weather?
No, we’re not talking about literal rain or shine but how your yard deflects rain, diffuses sunlight and captures breezes.
Some spots may get full sun while others are shaded, and you may have that one corner where the wind always seems to blow.
A gazebo or pergola can provide much needed shelter from the bright daytime sun and LED lighting is important for evening entertaining. If you’ve got a windy corner, take that into account as you plan seating, dining and relaxing areas.
Do You Have Adequate Lighting?
If you entertain in the evening, proper lighting can create ambiance, from simulating moonlight to creating a dramatic backdrop.
Lighting also serves a safety function and can highlight the edges of patios, pools, curbs and stairs so your guests can navigate your space easily.
There are lots of possibilities when it comes to lighting. Read more about unique and interesting lighting ideas.
Where Will Guests Sit?
This is more than just a numbers game. If you plan to host large parties then more seating will be necessary. But seating can take up a lot of space so plan how you may want to repurpose that space when it’s not in use, perhaps as an area for your morning yoga or evening coffee.
Different seating layouts lend themselves to different types of entertaining. Create an intimate setting around a fire pit, make room for larger parties with L-shaped benches and use chairs around a small round table to foster conversation.
If conversation is important, not only does the configuration of seating play a role but its placement does, too. If you have a waterfall or other water feature, placing seating too near it can make it difficult for people to hear over the ambient sounds.
How Well Does Your Space Flow?
The best spaces have separation between areas that have different uses but that doesn’t mean each area is separate. Flow is important. That means that your guests will feel like they’re part of the group whether they’re dining on the patio or lounging by the pool.
If your pool is too far from the main entertaining area, for example, or if there is a clear break between spaces, your party will end up split into two.
Contrasts in color and texture can create differentiation between spaces while maintaining overall cohesion. Smooth patio stones leading up to the cool blue of a pool, bright flowerbeds, strategically placed ground lighting and even furniture and décor can be used to create spaces within spaces and smooth transitions as guests move from one activity to another.
Even if you have a small yard you’d be amazed by how a strategic landscape design can make space seem larger and enhance its usefulness. Here are some tips for making small spaces appear to magically grow in size.
Where’s The Beef?
Every good party comes with a delicious bite or sensuous cocktail! Just as the kitchen is the center of entertaining indoors, so it can be outdoors.
If you’re a big entertainer then an outdoor kitchen is the ideal way to create that central gathering point. Flow is important here, too. The cooking area should not be isolated from the rest of the space or too small to let guests mingle with the chef.
And remember that windy corner? Plan a space for the kitchen elsewhere or you may end up with smoke blowing into conversation areas or even back into the house.
Is The Stage Set?
An outdoor kitchen, pool, patio, main entertaining area and conversation nooks can all be part of a great landscape design but the background is just as important to set the mood and add ambiance.
Even though your koi pond may not be a focal point during an evening cocktail party, it creates a beautiful and tranquil backdrop to stage your event against.
Placement is important. You want guests to enjoy the setting without being overwhelmed by the sound of waterfalls or fountains. And you want to be able to enjoy your pond, water feature or fountain from inside your home, as well as outside.
What About The Neighbor’s Laundry?
Amusing images of billowing undergarments aside, a messy or busy neighbor’s yard can certainly distract from the charm of your party.
If privacy is a concern, you may want to think about adding screening to your Master Plan. Whether that’s a fence, tall grasses or a length of bushes, screening can create intimacy and keep your neighbors from peeking in. Bamboo is another great option for privacy screening. It tends to get a bad rap for being unruly but it’s quite manageable and trouble-free when planted correctly. You can read more about this modern beauty here.
What Happens When Summer Is Over?
No need for your yard to go dormant! We know plenty of people who entertain or just sit outside and relax year round.
Even when the weather keeps you firmly indoors, you can still enjoy the view of a four-season garden through the windows. With the right selection of plants and naturalistic hardscape, you can enjoy nuances of color and texture all year long, from the vibrant purples and yellows of springtime flowers to bright red winter berries against white stone and bark.
Are You Ready To Entertain In Style?
We want to help you imagine and build the outdoor living space of your dreams, so you can relax, entertain and truly be the envy of your neighbors.
Call us or contact us online and let’s talk about how we can start with a Master Plan and begin to create the perfect outdoor entertaining space to fit your lifestyle.