During the long, hot days of summer there's plenty to do in the garden, and entertaining should be high on the list.
With a bit of planning, you can make the best use of your time by prioritising what needs to be done and think about ways to cool off your garden to make entertaining a breeze.
Plants are nature's own air conditioner and natural shade areas under trees can be up to five degrees cooler than nearby sunny spots. So planting a tree to shade the deck or entertainment area and placing benches and chairs underneath existing trees can make good use of the cooler micro-climate.
As summer is all about enjoying the outdoors and entertaining, bring the indoors outside to make guests feel comfortable.
When dining outdoors with family and friends it is important for guests to be able to see each other without bright lighting spoiling the ambience of the outdoor environment.
To help set the mood, string low voltage globe lights or lanterns to create a soft, fanciful atmosphere.
No garden entertaining is complete without music. Background music helps guests to relax and sets the tone based on music choice.
With so many wireless technology options these days, it's easy to install speakers throughout the garden and entertaining area using a smartphone or Bluetooth device.
You could take the installation to the next level with faux stone speakers that will blend into the garden, or simply hide speakers within the foliage.
Garden entertainment installations have become a popular option in modern landscape design.
Garden entertaining will require a cooking area, which tends to be a gravitational hub (particularly for the blokes), so locating the barbecue or cooking area close to the dining area and the house entrance will certainly make life easier when running between the table and kitchen.
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Keeping your cool while entertaining in the garden is also important and by having cold beverages on hand and accessible to you and your guests will make everyone happy.
There are plenty of ways to display drinks in a festive manner, from rolling bar carts, galvanized tubs to built-in outdoor refrigerators.
Other ways of keeping your cool include the installation of a water feature, pool or small pond.
These will also have an evaporative cooling effect in the garden and the soothing sound of moving water brings an audible element of cool calmness.