One of the many ways our lives have shifted in the past two years is that most of us have spent more time socializing outdoors than we have in years—probably since grade school.
But while making the most of our outdoor entertaining spaces is a given in the warmer months, what about when temperatures plummet?
“Gardens have to work harder now than they ever have before, functioning much like an interior space would,” Harriet Farlam of Farlam & Chandler, a London-based garden design studio, says. “Designing gardens is increasingly about balancing the creation of naturalistic, biodiverse spaces with the demands of modern outdoor living and entertaining: shelter, cooking, heating, and lighting.”
Read on for the four ways Farlam and other pros are making it easier for their clients to entertain guests outside in cold weather.
Bring the Inside Out
“Covid-19 has totally transformed the way our clients treat the landscape,” Edmund Hollander, cofounder of Hollander Design Landscape Architects, says. “Before, the landscape was largely a place to look at and enjoy. Now, outdoor rooms are places of refuge, safety, family gatherings and multi-seasonal enjoyment.”
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That doesn’t just mean making those spaces inhabitable temperature-wise, he says. It’s also about bringing in amenities such as big-screen TVs for movie nights and speaker systems to set a musical mood. And when you’re dealing with a long procession of gray days, he adds the right lighting is essential. “Lighting is critical to help brighten the shorter days.”
Outdoor kitchens with all the trappings are also in high demand. “Avid cooks typically want to be able to use their grills and smokers year-round, and some are requesting that their outdoor patios and driveway pavements be heated with hydronic tubing for immediate snow-melting,” says landscape architect Renée Byers. “Pizza ovens are also becoming quite popular, whether that’s ready-made ones fueled by gas or custom masonry bee-hive style ovens that are wood-fired.”
Fire It Up
“Nothing beats a naked flame for ambience and providing warmth,” Farlam says. “Fire bowls and log burners are increasingly being used in more prominent dining and lounge areas in a garden. Positioning lanterns along a pathway or as a centerpiece on a table is also an effective way to bring a feeling of warmth into the garden.”