Summer may have been and gone, but it’s never too late to add to your outdoor living essentials, in fact it’s the best time to begin preparing for next year. Whatever the size of your garden, or courtyard, there are loads of products and ideas around to inspire you with a massive range outdoor heating, cooking, lighting, decoration and furniture to choose from.
Outdoor eating conjurs images of family gatherings and balmy evenings spent leisurely sipping wine. In reality it can be lot of hard work and discomfort if you don’t plan your space and equipment properly.
For starters, there are so many options for actually cooking outdoors that it’s worth taking a bit of time working out which will suit your needs and garden space. Chimneas and firebowls offer the dual role of providing a cooking facility and heat at the same time. They also provide a decorative element to the garden and require little maintenance, as the ageing process provides a rustic look. Both do produce quite a bit of smoke however, so it’s worth placing them in a sheltered corner and away from the neighbours washing!
The Barbeque is an obvious choice but there are so many to choose from, so shop around and think about whether you have the space to store charcoal (which in my opinion provides far more flavour) or whether the instant heat and mess free gas or oil option is for you. It’s also worth thinking about how many people you’re likely to be cooking for to determine the size of equipment you need and whether who want it to be permanent fixture or to store it away for the winter..
Garden lighting is another element which allows you to stay outside for longer and creates a real atmosphere, depending on the type you go for Responsive flooding lighting is a useful security device but can ruin the ambience of a cosy garden gathering so think carefully about where to place it. Alternatives are surface or path lighting, which help navigate around the garden after dark but also give subtlety and can highlight attractive paving. Uplighting and spotlights are great for showing off architectural plants or structures and can produce a really dramatic effect.
Shade is something we often overlook but can provide another attractive feature as well as protection. Canopies, gazebos and parasols are available in a variety of colors and materials, including waterproof and washable, plain and patterned. Gazebos are free-standing but canopies can be attached walls, fences or even trees.
Of course comfort is key and with the ever increasing range of furniture to choose from, there’s something to suit everyone from a full-sized suite to a fold away table and chairs. Again think about the available space, storage and maintenance of your furniture as well the comfort. Some materials, such as wood, require regular treatment and don’t naturally improve with age. Rattan is a great alternative, offering durability, comfort and less maintenance.
Once you have these key features in place you can start to experiment with planters, table-wear, hammocks, cushions and throws, even a hot-tub or spa isn’t out of the question.