Outdoor entertaining is as popular as ever. While modern Americans have plenty of usable indoor space, there’s just no stopping us from cooking out and congregating outside when the weather is nice. Unfortunately, outdoor space often goes unnoticed when it comes time to upgrade our homes. Here are 25 ideas to make your next outdoor entertaining event even better:
1. Outdoor Furniture to Enhance Outdoor Entertaining
Outdoor entertaining can often accommodate larger crowds comfortably in an open, relaxed environment. Consider adding outdoor furniture if you don’t have it already. An outdoor dining area can invite impromptu barbecues and other gatherings.
2. Increase or Decrease Privacy
Some folks want to be able to see and speak with neighbors. Others want privacy. Perhaps your landscape design can accommodate a little bit of each.
3. Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs
Besides full-size swimming pools, you can consider permanent or temporary above-ground pools. Small children delight in even a very modest pool during the summer months. Some people are installing small swimming pools with artificial currents that allow a swimmer to work out by swimming against the current in much the same way as one jogs on a treadmill. Outdoor spas and hot tubs are also becoming quite popular. Many can even be used in winter!
4. Add Water Features
From goldfish ponds to fountains to water gardens, people are using water features as a focal point for many landscape projects. Outdoor entertaining is even better when enhanced by the visual effect and the soothing sounds of cascading water.
5. Beef Up Security
Outdoor landscaping can make a home safer or more vulnerable to crime. Generally, you want entrance ways and access points, like windows and doors, to be well-lit and visible from a distance.
6. Supplement Outdoor Entertaining and More with Shade Trees
Shade trees can offer a comfortable cool place to sit or play, and can be part of a passive solar heating plan. Deciduous trees help shade the yard and house during hot summer months and let warming sunlight through when they lose their leaves in the winter.
7. Don’t Skimp on Color
From leaves to flowers to bark, plants and trees offer an ever-changing pallet of colors. Think of each month as a different canvas and select plants that contribute the right colors at the right time.
8. Add Children’s Play Equipment
When outdoor entertaining involves adults and kids, a little equipment goes a long way. Place the playground equipment away from the street and in plain sight of a window.
9. Make Sure to Remember Lawn Sports
Kids and adults both love to play outdoors. A horseshoe court is inexpensive and simple to install and appeals to all ages. You may also consider a paved area to accommodate sports like basketball and hopscotch.
10. Vegetable and Herb Gardens
Whether it’s to save money, get some exercise, or just guarantee the freshest possible salad, you may want to join the legions of folks who have their own vegetable gardens. For chefs or people with small yards, herb gardens are increasingly popular. It will also give you something to show off when company comes around.
11. Birds, Birds, Birds
If you enjoy watching birds, consider putting in one or more feeding stations. Plan the stations so that refilling is easy. Position stations so they may be seen from nearby decks, patios, and windows.
12. Storage and Garden Sheds
Your shed should provide ample storage space for lawn and garden equipment and can include a potting station and space for outdoor sports equipment.
13. Wheeled Access
When planning walkways, patios, and decks, consider layouts and grading that eliminate the need for steps. Everything from strollers to lawn mowers to wheelchairs will be easier to use as a result.
14. Proper Clothesline Placement
If you use or would like to use a clothesline, find an out-of-the-way but accessible location that won’t interfere with recreational activities.
15. Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting is a central element in good landscape design. Motion-activated lights can enhance security. Floodlights can light parking areas. Spotlights can highlight trees and decorative features like fountains. Low-voltage lights or indirect outdoor lighting can accent decks and patios.
16. House Number
Outdoor entertaining is impossible if your guests can’t find you! An easy-to-read house number makes it easier for friends and pizza delivery persons to find your home and may save critical seconds should fire or rescue crews ever be called to your home.
17. Install Railings
Anywhere there is a step or sloped walkway, you should install good, sturdy railings. While critical to everyone at certain times of the year or under certain circumstances, seniors or others with physical challenges will appreciate them all year.
18. Enhance Your Front Entrance
Besides welcoming you home each day, it is the most important component in what real estate agents call curb appeal. As such, money spent improving your front entrance is almost always completely reflected in increased resale value of the property.
19. Driveways and Parking
Is there room to make turns without tearing up the lawn? Can you see clearly up and down the street before pulling into traffic? Are there conveniently located, paved pathways from the parking area to the door? If not, your outdoor event might see some property or vehicle damage.
20. Retaining Walls
Retaining walls can often be used to level out sloped areas of the lawn. The level area created by the wall is generally more functional and much easier to mow.
21. Decks: The Ultimate in Outdoor Entertaining
Decks provide elevated areas for dining and entertaining. Because they can be built at any height, they provide a way for virtually any room to be linked to the outdoors and the rest of the landscaping.
Patios don’t have to be rectangular and attached to the house. They can float out in the yard and curve around gardens and trees. Walkways can lead you into the landscaped yard and invite you into pleasant retreats.
Fences provide privacy, contain pets and children, keep out the bad guys, and divide functional and visual spaces. There are a ton of fence options out there; most homeowners are sure to find one that suits both their needs, and their style, too!
24. Plant Selection
Plants make great focal points at outdoor events. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of buying and planting shrubs that look great now but end up looking horribly overgrown in a few years. Plant selections should include consideration for future growth.
25. Power and Water
When improving your property for better outdoor entertaining, think about your power and water needs. Are there locations in the yard where an electrical outlet or faucet would be very handy? It may be possible to run lines to that location.