When the weather’s good, it’s fun to get outside with your friends and family and make the most of the sun. And any outdoor space can easily be transformed into a social hub, be it for informal barbecues or elegant summer parties.
So whether you’re starting your garden from scratch, or just want to add a few bits to your current setup, our top tips are here to help you create the ideal space to entertain come the warmer weather.
There are few important questions to ask before planning your socialising space.
Will it be family and neighbours wandering over when they smell the barbecue? Or an adults only cocktail party and dancing? Planning for your lifestyle is key to getting the most out of your garden.
The unpredictable British weather can sometimes put a dampener on a get together. But once the rain stops, the right choice underfoot can get you back to enjoying that holiday feeling sooner than you think.
We love decking for all-weather outdoor entertaining. It can be fitted with decking lights to add extra illumination and is available with non-slip layering to offer more grip. Paint timber deck boards with exterior wood paint to add colour and interest, and make the most of limited space with raised decking.
Fitting everyone around the garden dining table can sometimes be tricky. Our range offers tables that seat up to six people or create extra surface space thanks to our extending dining tables. These feature sliding extensions that quickly and easily conjure up two extra seating spots. And make room around the table with a backless bench (pictured) or add to your dining set with individual seats.
Offer guests a place to perch with our cushioned outdoor sofas. Ideal for sunny coffee mornings, they bring the comfort of indoors outdoors. Choose seating that matches with your dining furniture for a coordinated look, or go for something different to create zones in your garden. We love the Rocha sofa range which boasts built-in side tables and the Sulana range (pictured) with its clever two-in-one pieces. These include a table that doubles as a seat and a table box that opens up to offer cushion storage.
If you have the space, why not combine seating and structural elegance with an arbour? Pile high with cushions to create a cosy garden corner. And if you want to encourage guests to settle near a focal point, arrange garden benches nearby. We offer classic park benches in wood and metal, or opt for a natural sandstone one – perfect for the modern garden.
Love eating outdoors? Design your own outdoor kitchen for fun food in the sun. For cooking, choose a masonry barbecue. These charcoal barbecues make an attractive and permanent fixture in your garden that will last for years to come. And for all the cooking utensils, fashion hanging racks (pictured) so that you can quickly and easily reach everything you need.
Finish the look with a nearby herb garden. Grow it a safe distance from the grilling area and pack with all your favourite herbs for seasoning the grilled meat and vegetables.
Impress family and friends by serving drinks from one of our outdoor bars. These stunning structures feature a bar platform and window area for a fun serving space, while the overhanging apex roof provides shelter should it rain. And when the party’s over, it doubles up as much-needed garden storage.
Personalise yours by adding internal shelving to fashion your own cocktail bar. We love the Kilner Clear Drink Dispenser – twin with the matching Kilner Handled Jars for serving cooling iced teas when temperatures soar.
Be sure to offer guests – children in particular – shade from the summer sun. Parasols are a quick and easy way to block out harmful rays and can move to where you need protection the most in the garden. Look out for overhanging parasols that offer even greater coverage.
If a particular area of your garden is a suntrap, consider a larger structure like a gazebo. They look great decorated with outdoor string lights and double up as shelter from the rain should the weather turn bad.
Don't let the party stop when the sun goes down. Add some lighting to your outdoor space to keep the fun going for hours. A little goes a long way, so don’t flood the areas with light. Instead use table lamps, lanterns and garden party lighting to create a relaxed, fun mood.
And to help keep guests safe, add solar powered stake lights to illuminate pathways with no wiring required.
Is there a bit of a nip in the air? Don’t have your guests scurrying indoors – warm them up with our outdoor heating range including chimeneas and fire pits. Chimeneas offer the greatest amount of heat and so are perfect for large parties or big gardens, while many fire pits feature a grill for toasting marshmallows and other late night treats.
Why not add a woody herb like thyme, lavender or rosemary to the fire? It'll fill your garden with its delicious scent as you and your guests talk into the evening.
A party isn't a party without some music and lights and these can often be made easier with an external power supply. It may also be helpful if you use any power tools to clean or maintain your garden. And if you want to add a water feature to your space, that’s going to need power too.
Read our how to guide for instruction on how to install.
Get the conversation started with a statement feature in your outdoor space. Water features bring a dash of drama and can be introduced relatively easily if you don’t already have a natural water source in your garden. Consider a pool or waterfall, or add a pebble fountain to your decking.
Ornaments or statues are another way to express your personal style. They can be traditional or contemporary, a bit of fun or quite serious – it’s up to you. Get creative and make your own with found and reclaimed objects - a hot trend in outdoor upcycling. We love hanging colourful plates and pot saucers from outdoor walls - it works brilliantly with the vibrant Janeiro garden furniture range (pictured). Let your imagination run wild and you’ll have a great conversation starter.
The right plants are an important part of creating a welcoming garden for your friends and family. For a bit of colour, as well as a talking point with your guests, flowers are always popular. Choose pretty perennials and they’ll add a splash of colour every year without requiring much maintenance.
Pots are a quick and easy way to add a floral touch to your decked or paving areas, and our lightweight options allow you to easily move them out of the way should you need extra space for socialising. If space is scant, add height with climbers that grow up and over walls or trellis. Choose sweet-smelling varieties like Jasmine (Jasminum). It’s not only pretty but also smells heavenly creating a sensual delight for all.
And don't forget that it’s not just in the summer months that you'll want to enjoy a bit of greenery. You might want to take your Halloween party outside or feast on a winter barbecue, so be sure to include some evergreen options in your selection. Once planted, they’re a low-maintenance option that will prevent your garden from looking bare once summer's over.