Spending time in your garden with friends and family can be a special experience and a relaxing way to enjoy summer nights. It can also be a stressful experience for the host if they fail to plan ahead.
Kitchen to Garden
Make sure you have a clear path between the kitchen and the seating area so that food and drinks can be replenished easily. If dining outdoors, don’t place the dining area too far away and make sure you have protection from the sun and wind.
Take advantage of the range of canopies available or place your table under a pergola or other natural shade. If you’re planning to eat as the sun goes down, try to take advantage of the last rays by positioning the table accordingly.
It’s easy to overlook lighting in the garden, since we only tend to stay outside at night if having people over. If entertaining into the evening, you will need some kind of light for practical reasons, particularly in the cooking area if barbecuing.
Lighting can also be a great way to add atmosphere and even to repel insects. Go for candles (citronella to keep the insects at bay), hanging or free-standing lanterns, as well as strings of lights in trees or shrubs which can all create magical ambience.
Solar powered lights are available in a range of styles if you don’t have easy access to electricity in the garden.
Do yourself a favour and make use of the ranges of plastic and enamel crockery and glasses to choose from, rather than risking breaking your best china on the pavers.
Plastic table-wear has come a long way in recent years and can add a colourful and stylish dimension to the dining table. Gone are the days of floppy plastic or paper plates that melt at the slightest sign of heat.
Make sure you have plenty of surfaces to prepare the food, especially when barbecuing and have enough utensils and serving dishes ready so that you’re not searching for things when you should be socialising.
Have one or two tables nearby to keep uncooked and cooked food apart and to rest utensils when not in use.
Food & Drink
Have a range of meat and vegetarian options that can be cooked outdoors. It’s tempting to focus on meat when barbecuing but there are plenty of fish and vegetarian options that can be prepared in advance or bought ready to cook.
When it comes to drinks, they can be kept cool either in a drink chillers of some kind with the use of ice or freezer packs to save you trekking in and out to the fridge. If you have a water feature, it could double up as a drinks chiller.
Finally, but very importantly, don’t forget the condiments and prepare as much as you can in advance, such as salads and accompanying rice, pasta or potato dishes.
Garden furniture is one of the main considerations when dining outdoors and should be chosen with consideration of the amount of space you have, whether you can store it during the winter months and whether you’re prepared to treat and maintain it.
It’s worth spending as much as you can afford on quality comfortable chairs but if you only have an old, weather worn table at your disposal, you can always cover it with a bright table-cloth.