Barbecued food tastes better. That is an indisputable fact. Admittedly, there is little (read: no) scientific evidence to support this claim, but there is no denying that food that has been flame grilled in the great outdoors does taste just heavenly. Perhaps it is because opportunities to cook and dine outside are few and far between, after all, we’re lucky if we get a week of sunny days in a year. We know for that sacred week, you need your garden to be barbecue ready at the first sniff of suncream carried on a passing breeze. We’ve put together five things to consider when you’re creating your very own Garden of Eden for the summer season.
Work with your space
It’s always tempting to fill a space with things that look pretty. But the aesthetically pleasing Instagrams are only fun for so long. Your garden space, no matter how big or small, needs to be functional throughout the summer months. Consider whether or not you, or your guests, will have comfortable access to seating. Even on smaller apartment balconies, you can maximise your space by having lower tables that won’t obstruct your movement. This may sound like the dummies guide to gardening, but remember to measure up. You’ll be thanking us later when your outdoor sofa fits perfectly without obstructing the patio door.
Try before you buy
Long summer evenings were designed to be spent in the garden. Barbecues tend to come to a natural close when you lose the battle of wills and finally admit it is too cold to be outdoors without a jacket. Make sure what you invest in is comfortable, for those nights that turn into early mornings. This is the most fun part of the process that mostly involves swinging in hammocks at your local B&Q, or reclining on deck chairs at Dunelm. Your guests will always be grateful for the addition of outdoor cushions that save them from the dreaded furniture imprints that get burned to the backs of your thighs.
Keep it easy
Admittedly, us Brits tend to go a bit mad in the sun. So sacred are those few days of blue skies it’s not uncommon to see men donning flip-flops and shorts before the temperature has even had a chance to climb above 12 degrees Celsius. Maximise the time you spend sunning yourself by buying garden furniture in materials that have easy upkeep. Most teak, cedar, metal and all-weather wicker pieces are designed to stand up to all the tests you and your raucous friends could possibly put them through. But we wouldn’t recommend taking this as a challenge after one too many tequila sunrises.
Light it up
Everybody wants to be that effortless party host that can seamlessly transition an afternoon barbecue into a rollicking garden party as the sun goes down. The reality is that most of us end up a little like Monica from FRIENDS, begging our friends to use coasters and to pick up their bottle caps. Take a bit of the weight off of your own shoulders by using lighting to transition the mood once the sun goes down. Most outdoor lighting options are now solar powered, which is both economically beneficial and lets you boast about how environmentally friendly you are to your mates. String lights are hugely popular right now but choose carefully as they don’t always offer as much light as you’ll necessarily need. The lights might look good, but stumbling around in the dark does not.
Throw some shade
We can’t get too cocky with nice weather. In England, it can be bright sunshine one minute and tipping it down the next. And even if the weather does hold out, we’re all too stubborn to admit that we get sunburnt in sub-zero temperatures, let alone in high summer. It’s important to make sure you’ve got some form of coverage over your garden. Parasols are a great space saving investment. Unlike Gazebos, you don’t need to have an abundance of space to secure it into place. If you’ve got the room, and want something a little sturdier for the windier evenings, Gazebos are a great option. And as an added bonus, they look quite nice too. Gone are the days of hiding under a grubby tarpaulin for shade.