If you're planning plenty of al fresco evenings this year, consider some of these outdoor lighting options and add a cosy glow to proceedings.
Soft solar glow
For an eco-friendly garden, solar lighting is an ideal option. With a summer of sunshine on the cards, keeping your outdoor lights charged and ready to go come the evening shouldn't be a problem, and there are plenty of options available in the shops.
Homebase, for instance, have a variety of Rattan shapes and sizes, from torch spike lights for £14.99, a round table lamp for £19.99, and a floor lamp for £24.99. Alternatively, try Ethical Superstore for a string of solar-powered Moroccan Lantern string lights for £26.70.
Fairy lights are perfect for creating an enchanted nighttime garden atmosphere, so let your inner child loose and create a magical evening outdoors. For around £20, you can go simple but effective with a string of 100 warm white LED fairy lights, which add a little sparkle to a feature plant or lining walls or windows.
Or go colour crazy and invest in some coloured lights, like the pink solar LED dragonfly lights (£17.99) available from www.lights4fun.co.uk, or colour-changing butterfly LED lights (£19.99).
For a more dramatic fairy light effect, try LED net lights to cover a box hedge or hang from a garden wall.
Tealights are great for low-key garden lighting and the variety of holders on offer means there's something to suit everyone. At gardens2you.co.uk, for example, there are hanging wire tealight holders that will look great even without the glow of a candle, and prices start from just £6.99.
Why not bring a hint of North African mystique to your garden gathering with a Moroccan-inspired lantern, which can either hang amongst the trees or act as feature lighting for your table - perfect if there's a summer breeze as your tealight won't blow out. Lakeland offer two sizes, small and large, with prices starting from £9.99.
If you don't want to spend too much of your hard-earned on lighting up your al fresco do though, paper lantern candle bags are highly effective and won't put a big dent in your bank account. These flame retardant bags need only a little gravel or sand to weight them down and a tealight in each to create a magical effect, whether you choose to illuminate a pathway or just dot them around the garden. Best of all, a pack of ten costs around £5.99 and there are many bag designs to choose from.
If you'd rather not worry about all the putting out and bringing in of your outdoor lights, a statement piece or two is the way to go, as it will look great in the garden all year round.
For example, a pair of oil lamps made from natural slate will add something extra to your garden design and be ready to use when the mood for an al fresco do take you. The Chicago lamp by Aristo isn't cheap at £130, but they make for a bold design feature, and are equipped with a lifelong wick and safety mechanism to ensure you stay safe outdoors. LED ball lights (£198), available in a range of colours, are perfect for the modern garden, and these rechargeable lights will change colour for a party effect.
And if you're not too worried about the expense, Eglo offer a range of stunning designs, such as the Ferroterra Globe Light (£247) and the Terreno (£407), that are sure to be a talking point at the barbecue.