In this article, we will discuss some of the key features for a garden that help you entertain guests.
A garden should be a productive and useful space. As well as being a space to grow, and a space for quiet relaxation, a garden can also be a wonderful space for entertaining. But you do need to think about how you can create the perfect environment for your guests. And also about practical elements that will help you ensure entertaining is easy and everyone has a good time.
Herb Gardens and Food Producing Growing Areas
Before you even begin to think about the built infrastructure that will make it easier for you to entertain guests in your garden, start with the plants.
Remember that a garden is made by the plants. So no matter what other features you plan to include, you should always begin with planting. The plants in your garden can fulfil a range of functions, both within the ecosystem, and for you.
Grow Food To Entertain Guests
It is a good idea to consider growing at least some of the ingredients you will feed to your guests over the summer months. Having herbs, fresh fruits and vegetables on hand can help you entertain in style. Home grown food tastes great – and your guests may well be amazed by the abundance of food you are able to grow – even in a relatively small amount of space.
Enhance the Environment with Plants
It can also be helpful to think about how your food producing areas can fulfil other functions too. To create a perfect garden for guests, for example, think about how trees, fruit bushes and edible vines might be used to create a sense of lush coziness and privacy in the space. Vertical gardens and hanging planters can also not only maximise yield but also help create lush and enclosed spaces for you and your guests to enjoy.
Think, too, about how fragrant herbs and flowers can be used to enhance the appeal of the areas you will be entertaining in. And how the entertainment areas of the space will be enhanced by surrounding planting in other ways.
Do not be afraid to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects – even close to seating or dining areas. Attractant plants will actually help keep insects busy, and away from your food etc.. And guests will often love watching the bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife in your garden.
A Patio or Decking Area to Entertain Guests
While you could entertain guests on an area of lawn or enjoy a picnic on a wildflower meadow, an area of patio paving or decking can be a practical choice. Such an area can make access easier, and provide a level surface for any furniture you plan to include in your outdoors room.
However, it is important to remember that not all paving and decking are sustainable or eco-friendly choices. Try to consider natural and/or reclaimed materials whenever possible – both to save money, and to ensure that you minimise your negative impact on our planet.
Natural wood decking can be a good choice, and can be relatively affordable. Just make sure that you treat your wood in a sustainable way (with natural oils, for example) so that it won’t warm wildlife and yet will stay in good repair for as long as possible.
For paving, reclaimed stone, or ceramic tiles, perhaps even a mosaic of broken pavers or tiles, can be more sustainable than new concrete pavers. When creating new areas of paving, however, always think about water runoff, and where it will go. Try to consider how attendant planting schemes and features such as rain gardens can help to capture the water and slow its release from the landscape.
Remember to think carefully about where you place your patio or decking area. Look at the patterns of sunlight, wind etc. in your garden to decide where to position this feature. A south facing patio will of course be far sunnier than a north facing one. Facing east, your area will be lovely in the morning, while facing west means it will catch the sun later in the day.
A patio or decking area might commonly be placed up against your home. But remember, this is not your only option. An area at the far end of your garden – though further from your home – might provide better conditions in some circumstances.
Cover for Rain Protection/ Shade
Thinking about cover for your patio or decking area can allow you to use your garden more frequently. If you have a cover of some kind – a canopy, porch, pergola or other garden structure, this can provide a place to sit in wetter conditions perhaps, or simply provide a bit of shade on really hot days. A polytunnel might also be a good place to create a delightful entertaining space – as well as being a place to grow some food…But as above, make sure you also consider natural and reclaimed materials.
In order to make sure that your new structure does not stand out like a sore thumb, it can be a very good idea to consider how you can use climbers and vines, or perhaps even vertical garden structures, to blend it in with the surroundings through planting. With pergolas and arbours, climbing plants themselves can create a beautiful area of dappled shade below.
Outdoors Dining and Seating To Entertain Guests
Once you have your patio or decking in place, and perhaps some kind of cover, you will of course need to think about what outdoor furniture you need or would like. Outdoor seating and dining areas will make a big difference to how easy it is for you to entertain guests in your garden.
Again, use natural and/or reclaimed materials or second-hand items. And think carefully about positioning in terms of sunlight, wind. Comfort, privacy and exposure can all be key things to consider. Remember to position pleasing, fragrant and tactile plants close to garden room seating areas where you and your guests will spend a lot of time.
Adding some lighting to an outdoors living zone can allow you to make the most of it after dark. However, it is important to choose eco-friendly lighting – solar powered lights, for example. And it is important to think about the impact of lighting excessively – not only on your household and neighbours, but also on nocturnal wildlife. Use lighting conscientiously and make sure it is off overnight when not in use. Avoid adding excessively to light pollution.
An Outdoors Kitchen
Being able to not only eat but also cook outdoors can also be a great feature for a garden where you like to entertain guests. A barbecue area can be fun – but this is not the only option. For example, you might also consider a wood fired pizza oven perhaps. Or even a solar oven for warm summer’s days. It can also be very useful to have an outdoors sink/ wash area, where you can prep produce from your garden and wash up. And some countertop space could be useful too.
A Patio Bar Area or Garden ‘Pub’
Close by, you might also consider having a patio bar area, or even turning a garden shed into a garden ‘pub’ where you can serve drinks to your guests. These structures might be built into a pergola or other covered structure, or be stand-alone constructions. Again, consider natural or reclaimed materials before buying anything new.
Fire Pits, Outdoor Fireplaces and Chiminea
Having an outdoors heat-source can also be a good idea in some areas – even if you are lot planning on cooking on it. Fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and chimineas can all be great focal-points for outdoors seating areas. Humans evolved congregating around a fire or hearth, and having one of these features can help create a convivial, cozy and welcoming atmosphere in your space.
Water Features To Create the Perfect Ambiance to Entertain Guests
Water features can also be great focal features for a garden. And both tranquil wildlife ponds, and water features with flowing water, can help create a calm and restful environment for you and your guests. Views over water from your entertainment area can help set the right mood in your garden.
Do you have the perfect garden for entertaining guests? Which features have you included in your design? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.