After months of no socialising, save a walk in the park, the relaxation of lockdown rules means that we’re putting on our hosting hats to welcome friends and family back into our gardens.
Yes, it’s only up to six or two households, but as it’s the closest many of us have got to a night out in a long time, we’re treating it as an excuse to dress up — not only ourselves, but our outside space.
‘We’ve been locked up so long, now the rules have slightly loosened, it makes total sense to put a show on,’ says Ned Corbett-Winder, founder of the homewares gifting company Not-Another-Bill.
But if gazing out over a patch of one’s own leaves you feeling less than party-ready, panic not. There are some simple tricks and buys to make your garden perfect — instantly.
SET THE STAGE
‘I’ve got a tiny courtyard, which I’m doing up, so I’m well aware of the challenges of hosting in a small space,’ says Tom Massey, Chelsea award winning designer and part of the crack design team on Your Garden Made Perfect. If you’re looking for a big — but easy — DIY job then ‘painting your fences black helps them recede and makes your garden look bigger’, he says. From there, play with accessories to create pockets of interest — a makeshift bar at the back, for example, will draw guests in.
Our thoughts naturally turn to BBQs at the merest hint of sun. But it’s not just burnt sausages we’re craving; last year we became a city of back garden pizzaiolos. For the party set, The Disco Pizza Oven (POA; templehome.co.uk), based on a mirror ball and designed by fashion designer Alice Temperley’s boyfriend, furniture maker Marcus Cresswell, is the one to get. More affordable and compact is Ooni. If it’s just a warm glow you’re after, fire pits are a simple way to roast your marshmallows, but a chiminea is the best option for those who want to go home not stinking of smoke.
LAY THE TABLE
It’s easy to look like you’ve made an effort, says Corbett-Winder, ‘if you throw a tablecloth down, lay a placemat in a tonal colour and layer a napkin in an accent colour to make it pop. Put some tulips in bud vases along the table and it will look beautifully spring-like.’ For wow factor, choose personalised napkins (£15; notanotherbill.com).
The big celebrity trend might be to build a lake in your grounds à la Victoria Beckham, but if your acreage doesn’t quite support such grandeur, you can still have a dip. Hot tubs were a sensation last year and need not be a permanent fixture: you can rent them from just £123 (hirehottub.com).
With cinemas shut, an al fresco movie night has a certain charm. ‘I hooked up a projector on the side of my camper van, had a fire pit and got takeaways with my sister, which was really fun,’ says Anna Boglione, daughter of the owners of Petersham Nurseries and founder of wellness platform, The Gut. Try a Yaber 7,000 lumen projector and a Vamvo 120in screen (£169.99 and £109.99; amazon.co.uk) for a home-spun movie night.
What to buy for your garden
Extend your evening with a sleek, portable, rechargeable lamp.
Fermob garden lamp, £85.
The pizza oven
Pizza cooks in 60 seconds — quicker than it takes to log in to Deliveroo.
Ooni pizza oven, £249.
The outdoor candle
Enjoy the flicker of candlelight in a reusable ceramic bowl.
Add a pop of colour with an outdoor rug made from recycled plastic bottles.
Brighton stripe rug, from £40.
Soft linen, handmade in south London.
Butter Homeware napkins, from £11.
The bistro set
Perfect for adding a splash of colour and squeezing seating into a tight spot.
Pass the Margs in a beautiful ceramic jug.
VAISSELLE Drink Me jug, £75.
A portable Bluetooth speaker with exceptional sound and 10 hours play time.
Sonos Roam, £159.