Mood is enhancing, the power of lighting is integral to alfresco entertaining. Far more than a mere means of illumination such as the entry lights above doorways or the task lighting used in an outdoor kitchen, lighting also serves to create a warm atmosphere that is conducive to entertaining. That’s ambiance. Carefully placed throughout the landscape, ambient lighting sets the mood for dining, dancing and intimate conversation. Try a mélange of lighting, including candle chandeliers dangling from plant hooks to cast gentle light on faces, casually chic twine-covered lanterns suspended at varying heights from a pergola like the striking creations overhanging George Clooney’s Los Cabos courtyard and the softness of solar lights that guide guests along walkways and cast light over water features and otherwise dark corners">
If you have ever viewed the breathtaking landscapes showcased on makeover programs and in landscape-design magazines, ardently wishing you could recreate these glorious settings in your landscape, you are not alone. A gorgeous garden beckons to virtually everyone. Offering a luxurious ambiance of exuberant flowers and stately trees along with sparkling water features and the inviting crackle of fireplaces ablaze, these landscapes of the rich and famous are delightfully indulgent havens for the homeowners as well as sumptuous atmospheres for posh alfresco entertaining.
While the exorbitance of these landscapes may well be beyond reach, the opulent aesthetic is attainable. It merely requires a bit of innovation, extracting the best features from those palatial landscapes of the wealthy to create your fabulous landscape that is a visual feast for entertaining while remaining within your budgetary constraints. With seven pivotal elements in place, the entertaining sanctuary of your dreams awaits you in your garden.
Inimitable Design Plan
Designing a landscape plan with a unique appeal is the key to making your landscape a standout. Simply select the features that most appeal to you in designer and celebrity landscapes that you have previously viewed and longed to recreate. Borrowing these individual facets of chic landscapes allows you to combine them in distinctive ways that set your landscape apart from all others. Perhaps it’s the bountiful lighting seen in George Clooney’s landscape, for instance, along with the lush evergreens enveloping renowned chef Giada de Laurentis’s patio and the stunning, wisteria-laden pergola in Sting’s garden that has captured your attention. Deftly combined in your landscape, these components of plants, lighting, and hardscape create a singular landscape that comes to life in a marvelous way. Consider the added value of appealing to the senses beyond vision via fragrance, tactile delights and the melodious sound of water heightens your guests’ appreciation of your landscape. Eliciting admiring glances along with accolades, your beautifully executed design plan is likely to keep you smiling for years to come.
A wide expanse of emerald green lawn, pristinely maintained, is coveted by so many. After all, it offers sensational curb appeal and appears to bespeak the wealth required for its preservation. Bearing in mind the vast quantities of water, fertilizer and time required for its upkeep, its sustainability begins to wane, a decided disadvantage when sustainability is an ingredient in your design plan. In that case, or if you are simply enamored of the idea of low-maintenance landscaping, consider the beauty of devising smaller areas of lawn, designed in curving patterns that highlight flower beds and delineate various areas of your landscape, creating the effect of garden “rooms.” These diminutive lawn areas provide places for the eye to rest within your landscape, tranquil spots for conversation, relaxing in a hammock or sipping iced tea as well as the tactile pleasure of walking barefoot through the grass.
Foundation for a stunning landscape, tall trees lend it gentility and grace while offering shade for guests. What you want here is a blend of evergreen and deciduous trees, the former providing verdant interest year-round, defining your landscape and erecting luxuriant walls for your garden rooms, encompassing your guests in green splendor while creating a comfortable sense of private enclosure. Meanwhile, deciduous trees, with their characteristic blooming and shedding of leaves, offer seasonal diversions with delicate spring blossoms, brilliant fall foliage and the winter beauty of berries or sculptural bare branches while providing the ideal perch for lanterns and twinkle lights nighttime entertaining, part of the ambient lighting to be discussed later. Moreover, trees strategically planted like those at filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s Pennsylvania estate create a canopy under which guests can dine alfresco in coolness during the day and under pendant lighting suspended from its branches by night.
While plants initially spring to mind when reflecting on landscapes, the hard surfaces, from patios, decks, and paths to pergolas, arbors, and gazebos, among others, are hardscapes that add pizzazz along with perfect entertainment venues. Patios and decks, for instance, often proffering panoramic vistas of your landscape and beyond, are prime locations for dining tables and outdoor kitchens, necessary accouterments for entertaining as Giada de Laurentis’s sleek outdoor kitchen on her slate patio so aptly illustrates. Likewise, a pergola injects a superlative green note that far surpasses an open umbrella over the table. Like the splendidly verdurous one that surrounds outdoor dining at home near Florence, Italy shared by Trudie Styler and Sting; a pergola renders shade via plantings that entwine themselves up and over it. Similarly, a gazebo serves as a fine dining room, an outdoor living room, a dance pavilion or even a game room or karaoke spot, creating a wonderfully varied entertaining locale that also can be encased in greenery. What matters is designing hardscapes that delight the eye while functioning efficiently and beautifully for your entertainment purposes.
The mood is enhancing, the power of lighting is integral to alfresco entertaining. Far more than a mere means of illumination such as the entry lights above doorways or the task lighting used in an outdoor kitchen, lighting also serves to create a warm atmosphere that is conducive to entertaining. That’s ambiance. Carefully placed throughout the landscape, ambient lighting sets the mood for dining, dancing and intimate conversation. Try a mélange of lighting, including candle chandeliers dangling from plant hooks to cast gentle light on faces, casually chic twine-covered lanterns suspended at varying heights from a pergola like the striking creations overhanging George Clooney’s Los Cabos courtyard and the softness of solar lights that guide guests along walkways and cast light over water features and otherwise dark corners.
Shimmering Water Feature
The soothing sound of water suffuses your landscape with a feeling of tranquility, unlike any other element you might insert into your design plan. What’s more, a simple water feature can enchant your guests as much as any elaborate creation. A small, two-tiered fountain placed in a central location draws guests to its refreshing mist and charming sound. Equally enticing, a waterfall nestled in large rocks and flowing into a miniature pond is not only a beguiling sight but also produces a gentle sound that has a calming effect. Day or night, water features make a spectacular statement in your landscape.
The Warmth of Fire
A fire pit on the patio as a gathering spot for drinks and conversation or a grand stone fireplace with a roaring fire to sit beside and, perhaps, toast marshmallows offers the final element for alfresco entertaining. Captivating guests with its warmth and mesmerizing beauty, a fire component completes your alfresco entertaining plan.
Individually, each of these facets of outdoor entertaining makes a significant impact on your landscape.