There's nothing like eating outdoors on a summer's evening. We show you how to give your garden the 'wow' factor with sumptuous seating, gorgeous table decorations and starry lighting.
Take the inside out
Don't be afraid to take indoor furniture and accessories outside. Revamp old furniture with a fresh lick of paint and pretty cushions. Think beyond black and white for metal furniture and try pink, blue or green. Colourful pillows and cushions will brighten up an old bench and create a comfy and sumptuous corner. Mix and match modern florals, stripes and patterns for a strong contemporary look.
To create an opulent dining space hang a large gilded mirror to an outside wall or hang lots of little mirrors behind foliage and flowers. Mirrors create the illusion of more space and look magical at night in flickering candlelight. For instant sophistication hang a candle chandelier over a dining or seating area. All you need are two sturdy poles secured in the ground and a line of rope from which to hang it.
String a hammock between two trees or a wooden arbor to create a dreamy, romantic corner. If space is limited, drape coloured canvas across the garden for an intimate dining area that will also provide shade. Choose bright colours or romantic billowy white muslin and attach to four poles pushed into the ground or secured in pots of pebbles.
A table to dine for
Give your outdoor table the 'wow' factor with a colour-coordinated tablecloth, seat cushions, glassware, dishes and place mats. For an inexpensive centerpiece, group together glass bottles and vases in different shapes and colours and add a single long stem flower or sprig of rosemary from the garden. Don't forget to put bowls of flowers on the table – pink summery roses are romantic and smell wonderful.
Who said fairy lights are just for Christmas? String iridescent white fairy lights around tree trunks and branches to create a magical, starry atmosphere. Paper lanterns look pretty hanging between trees while glass lanterns look ultra romantic placed alongside a garden path to light the way. For a tropical oasis set brightly coloured candles and incense into pots of sand.
Install mini LED lights to the edges of decking and use angled garden lights to show off a dramatic plant or favourite corner. Create a romantic focal point by filling a large square area with pebbles and installing a brass fire pit or chimenea. Solar powered fairy lights are available from most big DIY stores and look stunning wrapped around a tree trunk or table umbrella.
Don't be afraid to use big plants in a small garden. A single statement plant, such as a spiky yucca, fern or palm will make a striking centerpiece. Screen a less than perfect view with tall bamboo plants. Grow them in rectangular metal containers and you can move them around to create an intimate dining area on special occasions.
Strong graphic prints, such as palm fronds, leaves and tropical flowers are perfect for a chic urban space. A black and white colour scheme will add instant Hollywood glamour while shocking pinks and lime create a striking tropical look. To create a visual barrier between the house and garden try hanging colourful strips of ribbon in the doorway.
Do you love to entertain outdoors in summer? Leave your tips below...