Set up your yard for summer entertaining

outdoor setting with festoon lights in the backyard garden

Jenna Meade

Posted October 28, 2021

Six ways to transform your great outdoors in time for summer.

We’ve spent enough time indoors this year. As temperatures begin to rise and the sun shines brighter, our thoughts turn to outdoor living - and the return of backyard barbecues. Whether you’ve got sprawling lawns or a concrete courtyard, there are clever and creative ways to make use of the space you’ve got. 

From shade and lighting to furniture and finishing touches to set the scene, here’s our guide to turning your great outdoors into an entertaining haven. 

Outdoor entertaining essentials


You’ll need protection from the sun when temperatures peak. Natural shade can help your entertaining area flow seamlessly into your garden, with deciduous trees offering shelter, privacy and the hint of a breeze. A drawback, however, is you’ll have to contend with falling leaves and animal droppings, so factor in a little time for pre-party maintenance.

While alternatives like a covered patio or traditional roofing are good alternatives, they can get costly. For effective budget-friendly options, consider a shade sail or even an outdoor umbrella which you can rotate as the sun moves across the sky.


Deck out your space with furniture that sustains our Australian conditions. While a rattan dining setting might look like the perfect fit, it’s likely not going to hold up through thunderstorms and harsh sunny days. Go for outdoor-grade materials like steel, teak, pine hardwood, aluminium and wrought iron. You’ll want designs that won’t blow over in the wind, dampen in the rain or peel in the sun.

For small spaces, consider multipurpose furniture like bench seats with under-seat storage and ottomans that double as chairs. Depending on how much space you have to work with, consider the clutter and measure to make sure there’s enough room for people to comfortably walk around.


Comfort is king when choosing a seat. Choose designs that are inviting and suit the size of your area. 

Short on space? Add hanging seats, benches or a bar table with stools instead of a dining table. Or, if space allows, consider setting up two seating areas - one zone with a long table for dining and another with comfortable chairs or lounges for after-dinner drinks.

Senior woman and man setting up an outdoor meal

 Setting up zones for eating and relaxing can allow you to have fun with your colour palette and choice of activity. Image: Getty.


Begin to bring in visual cues by firstly deciding on a colour palette. This will not only give your yard a cohesive flow, but will also cut down on decision-making time. Don’t be afraid to unleash your personality during this process - it’s your home after all. If you’re hoping to achieve an outdoor Zen-zone, consider soft and muted tones to exude peacefulness and calm. Or, if bold and playful is more your style, go for a brighter palette with pops of colour.

Scatter cushions made from durable cotton canvas, scented candles and fresh flowers from the garden are simple finishing touches that will stylishly elevate your space.


Nothing will set your outdoor soiree scene like ambient lighting. Consider bypassing bright fluorescents and make an impressive impact with a dramatic pendant centrepiece. Moroccan or rattan designs can also cast stunning shadows across your area. 

You’ll want the space to be well-lit, but not too well-lit that it discourages relaxation. Swap out white globes in favour of warm, orange tones, and use candles to add more glow as the evening progresses – making sure they are safe and sealed in a container or vase. Out in the garden, string festoon or fairy lights in your trees or shrubs for a magical backdrop.


Fuse your entertaining area with its surroundings by introducing pops of greenery. Pick flowers fresh from your garden and make beautiful bouquets, add lush potted plants or flowers for natural colour. You may even want to consider installing a vertical herb garden on one of your walls if space is an issues. Often, the simplest greenery is the most intimate, like a creeping statement vine wrapped around the rafters.