Outdoor entertaining has so many advantages. It is less formal, and with a small amount of prep, you can finish cooking the meal on a grill without leaving your guests. People like to be outdoors and even enjoy meals served outdoors. Just look at the popularity of the farm-to-table dinners. Your entertaining could be much the same, especially if you are growing vegetables in your home garden. The following ideas will help you to create the type of outdoor entertainment area you will enjoy sharing with friends and family.
- Clean up and assess. The first step is to clean up what already exists. Clean your deck or patio with a power washer that you have bought or rented. Remove weeds and other debris. Prune any flowering bushes or trees with low hanging branches if needed. Check for any damage to your deck or patio and determine if it can be repaired or needs to be replaced. Determine if the current deck or patio is large enough to accommodate the type of entertaining you want to enjoy. You may need to consider adding additions, but you may have enough room for seating guests if you add room for your outdoor cooking to the side of the existing patio. Your budget, as well as your skill level, will determine how you will proceed. If you are confident in your DIY skills, you may want to do the work yourself; otherwise, hire a contractor to make your deck or patio exactly what you want.
- Add a fire pit. A fire pit is so much fun in the dark of night, plus it has the practical advantage of heat as the evening cools down. If you are rebuilding your deck or patio, this is a feature you might want to include at the same time. If you are unsure if you want a permanent fire pit, consider purchasing a free-standing fire table
- Consider adding a pergola. If your patio or deck is like being in the Sahara Desert during most of the day and evening, adding a pergola may be the answer. The pergola will provide shade, and if you add outdoor curtains, you will have even more protection from the sun. The curtains can be tied back on the posts when not in use and opened when needed. Another option is to plant climbing vines at each corner post and let them grow over the top of the pergola, forming a living roof.
- Evaluate your outdoor furniture. Now is the time to upgrade your outdoor furniture. There are so many options for furniture–from sleek contemporary looks to oversized deep-cushioned couches and chairs. Tables and chairs for outdoor dining should coordinate with the other seating. Consider adding outdoor carpets to define the areas.
- Incorporate shrubs and trees. If your patio is surrounded with lawn, consider planting shrubs and even trees to give a sense of enclosure and transition to the rest of the yard. By selecting flowering bushes, you will also provide the beauty of the flowers and possible fragrance to your outdoor space.
- Consider building an outdoor kitchen. Your outdoor kitchen can range from a simple grill to a complete kitchen with plumbing, ovens and cookstove and refrigeration. An outdoor kitchen can be done in stages as the budget allows. Just have a plan and start with the mechanicals, like electric lines and plumbing, so you won’t have to dig up your newly finished patio to run the plumbing.
- Plant an herb garden. Incorporate space for gardens in your patio or deck plans. A perfect choice would be an herb garden planted with the herbs you use for meal preparation.
- Improve your lighting. Today, there are so many options for outdoor lighting that are functional and also beautiful. The best news is many of your choices are solar-powered so you won’t need to have expensive electric lines added in order to have light. Start with string lights hanging in your pergola roof. Use spotlights to illuminate a beautiful flowering shrub or the foliage of a Japanese Maple.
- Use flowers for natural decoration. Plant flowers around your patio for added beauty and softness. Start with perennial plants for sale in spring that are pretty foolproof. Plants like coneflowers and daylilies are hardy in most conditions. Perennials are more expensive than annuals, but they come back year after year so are well worth the additional upfront cost. Once you feel more comfortable with your flowers, you can expand your garden to include a few more needed plants if you want.
- Incorporate outdoor entertainment elements. If your vision of entertaining includes watching the game on TV, it may be worthwhile to invest in an outdoor TV. Besides the games, your children could host a Disney party and watch the movie with their friends. Host a comedy night special or murder mystery night.
- Don’t forget about storage. If you are purchasing new furniture, consider storage. Many of the outdoor couches have removable seats that open to storage compartments. This space is great for extra pillows or children’s toys. Also, consider where you will store things like the garden hose or tools that are easy to leave conveniently but not attractively on the deck or patio table. An attractive enclosed hose reel can hide the hose and still be on the patio. If you add a pegboard storage wall in the garage or garden shed, you will be more likely to put these tools away.
- Complete your space with accessories. Adding decorative pillows, potted flowering plants and candles will give the finishing touch to your outdoor entertaining space. Add potted tulips or daffodils in the spring, followed by colorful zinnias or impatiens in summer. Finish with chrysanthemums for fall.
It doesn’t take much to move your deck or patio from ho-hum to a spectacular spot to spend time, share meals and entertain. Once you have a plan, you can add different parts each year according to your budget. It won’t be long before you want to stay at home on the weekends and enjoy your free time on your own deck or patio.