A guide to creating the perfect outdoor area for al fresco entertaining
Credit: Erin Renwick

A guide to creating the perfect outdoor area for al fresco entertaining

Eating a meal outside is one of the greatest pleasures of summer. Creating a space in which you and your guests can truly relax and enjoy meals, cocktails or a cup of coffee together can be rewarding, but it does take some careful planning. Below are a few tips and tricks to make your entertainment area a welcoming, comfortable and functional place to be.

The Patio
Credit: Flickr / Texas_Custom_Patios

The Patio

First and foremost, you need a place to sit. Your patio or deck should be large enough to fit at least the number of guests that you would usually entertain around a table. Ideally, the area is placed just off a kitchen or great room door. This will give you and your guests easy access to both the kitchen and the bathroom, ensuring that your space is functional. If your patio is in direct hot sun, consider building an arbour or using a large umbrella so that you can stay comfortable on hot days.

Large Entertainment Table
Credit: Flickr / jollyboy

Large Entertainment Table

Having a large table allows guests to linger over their food and wine just as they would indoors. Dress your table as if you were eating inside for a more luxurious atmosphere. When the sun begins to set, add candlelight or other low, soft lights to keep your guests comfortable.

Curved Cedar Bench
Credit: iStock / arnphoto

Curved Cedar Bench

In this garden, the long bench curves around an existing rock outcrop. Its rounded shape makes the area feel cosy, and it is large enough to accommodate up to 10 people. When not in use, the bench acts as a stand-alone sculpture.

Additional Seating
Credit: Flickr / dbkfrog

Additional Seating

If you have room, adding additional comfortable seating to your patio is a great idea. This is a more casual space where people can sit and chat when they are not eating. If you can, provide cushions, blankets and small tables so that there is somewhere to rest drinks or appetizers.

Herb Garden
Credit: Flickr / Cindy Andrie

Herb Garden

A herb garden is essential for cooking great food, and, if possible, should be planted alongside your deck or patio, or even in pots right outside the door. This will make the herbs easy to access while you are preparing your food and drinks.

Raised Vegetable Beds
Credit: Flickr / crumj

Raised Vegetable Beds

Growing your own organic vegetables, fruit and herbs will provide you with the best ingredients when you are preparing meals for your friends and family. Raised beds allow you to provide excellent soil and drainage, which all vegetables need.

Originally published in BC Home & Garden magazine. For regular updates, subscribe to our free Home and Garden e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the magazine.