A soft comfortable garden sofa is laid out ready for a garden party

Want a garden great for entertaining? Ten expert tips for a party garden

A light grey garden sofa is accessorised with orange and grey patterned cushions. A jug of a summer cocktail drinks is on a tray on an outdoor ottoman, ready for an evening of entertaining in the garden.

Make your garden perfect for outdoor entertaining

Bringing friends and family together in the garden is one of the joys of the longer, lighter summer evenings. If you love family BBQslaidback garden parties, or any excuse to host an outdoor celebration make outdoor entertaining easy and fun with these ten garden design ideas.

Whether you have a large garden that you want to redesign or a smaller patio you'd love to refresh, we've gathered top tips and ideas from the experts at Armadillo Sun, makers of luxury garden furniture, and Stiled, specialists in outdoor porcelain tiles.

1. Find your hosting hotspots

Spend some time sitting and watching where the sunshine hits your garden at different times of the day, especially in the spring and summer. Set an alarm on your phone and go out in the morning, the afternoon, and early evening.

Where the light warms your garden pin-points where you are likely to want to be at these key points of the day, and how you might want to use and furnish that spot,” advises Caroline Lomax, founder of Armadillo Sun.

Take photos on your phone to remind you of these entertainment hotspots and make them the focus of your garden decorating.

With clever garden furniture choices, you can exploit the sun, wherever it is, without spending huge amounts of money on multiple seating options.

Evening sunshine is especially important. This is often when you are entertaining in the garden and catching those last rays of light. You and your guests will want to be comfortable – lounging and relaxing, not sitting upright. This is the perfect spot for a loungey laidback garden sofa!” recommends Caroline.

Lightweight luxury bean bag furniture is ideal in a garden made for entertaining because key seating can be moved easily around to fit the event and time of day. A weatherproof bean bag sofa chair is only 6kg - nearly three times less than an outdoor wooden armchair - and makes shifting and rearranging garden seating simple.

A high end bean bag outdoor sofa and blue patterned garden cushions with a bottle of champagne on a weatherproof ottoman

Image: a garden sofa chair - made in the same way as a luxury bean bag - is lightweight, weatherproof, and exceptionally comfortable. Plus it is easy to move to just where you want it. At a third of the weight of an outdoor wooden armchair - and with a useful handle on the back - it can be arranged by one person alone. Convenient and incredibly helpful when you're busy setting up for a garden party!

2. Zone your outdoor entertaining area (whatever its size)

View your garden like you would your house: create different ‘rooms’ with distinct roles and ambience.

Use patio tiles to frame and highlight an area. Pergolas are also a popular way to create a defined space.

Offering a mix of seating options is a really simple way to build zones into your garden. For example, outdoor bean bags in a lushly planted corner invite intimate conversation; whilst repeat planting around a tiled patio furnished with a garden dining set offers more formal alfresco entertaining. Creating a focal spot with a fire pit (on heatproof porcelain tiles) and a garden sofa draws people together.

A light blue sectional garden sofa is arranged with two pairs of soft chairs facing each other across an ottoman table ready for alfresco dining.

Image: garden sofa chairsplus a lightweight versatile ottoman, when set out under a pergola is an inviting space to gather party-goers together for drinks and food. A pergola not only frames and zones an area in your garden but provides some protection from the elements, whether sun, wind, or rain. It is also fun to decorate with lighting, bunting, or climbing plants!

Even in the smallest of gardens different seating spaces can be created with a few chairs or garden bean bags, a small outdoor rug, and strategically placed pots and plants.

Zones needn't be fixed either – unlike rooms in your house, you are not limited by immovable structures like walls and doors, so you can arrange and re-arrange furniture and décor to suit the event.

Create an open laidback family BBQ area, then transform it the following evening for a garden party with conversation corners and sit-down dining spots.

3. Extend your entertaining space indoors and out

Consider your garden as an extra room in your home.  By using outdoor porcelain patio tiles matched to ones used inside your home you create a large cohesive entertaining area with a seamless flow from one to the other.

Two large luxury garden bean bags are sat outdoors on a patio that extends indoors.

Image: using tiling that extends from indoors out into the patio creates a large modern entertaining space.

If designing your home around an indoor-outdoor aesthetic is not practical, you can still reflect your indoor-style outside.

"Look at your patio as an outdoor living room and organise and accessorise it as such,” recommends Matthew Williams, founder and CEO of Stiled.

Porcelain tiles from Stiled can be used to create wood effect flooring for warmth and an indoors-out feel.

Outdoor patio tiled with wood-effect porcelain pavers used for a garden table and chairs and planters

Image: Harbury Natural Outdoor Porcelain Tiles available from Stiled

“For me, creating a living room in an outdoor area is essential ... just like you sit back on your sofa to relax, this is an area of your garden where the focus is on encouraging you and your guests to switch off,”  says Caroline.

Emphasise comfort with a loungy garden sofa and dress with outdoor cushions that complement the colour scheme of your home. If you love boho décor, then consider outdoor rugs, Moroccan hanging lights, throwsscatter cushions, and plenty of luxury adult-sized bean bags.

4. Don’t overlook the importance of hardscaping

We all love the plants and flowers that add colour and texture to our outdoor spaces.

“But a garden needs a balance of softscaping, through plants and lawn, and hardscape - paths, patio areas, and walls to make it a place people want to explore,”  says Matthew from Stiled.

A gravel path lined with brick pavers curls round a corner and opens up into a circular patio with a firepit at its centre. Lush greenery and plant obelisks surround both patio and path.

Image: a family garden makeover by garden designer Jenny Radford

This is particularly important in making your garden the perfect place to entertain. Consider how guests will move around your outdoor space, and the easiest way to divide it up.

Carefully planned hardscaping is essential, even in a smaller garden.

“Hardscaping adds structure and definition within limited space and, by choosing complementary colours and materials, creates continuity that will make a small garden feel spacious,”  says Matthew from Stiled.

5. Durability, practicality, and style

Nothing takes the joy out of a party than mild panic at a splash of sauce on a cushion or a spilled glass of red wine. You need to be able enjoy entertaining in your garden too!

“Ensuring your garden entertainment areas are unfussy and easy to clean is essential,”  emphasises Caroline.

Accidents will happen so knowing that stains won’t be a permanent reminder of a party however good it’s been – makes all the difference to your ability to relax.

A stylish outdoor sofa in stain resistant fabric on a sunny patio

Image: all Armadillo Sun garden furniture is made from weatherproof stain-resistant fabric that does not rot or fade.

Durability does not mean boring! The Stiled range of beautiful outdoor patio tiles are all non-porous and wipe-clean. Browse Armadillo Sun’s bold and bright garden bean bag designs to see how practical fabric can look stylish and feel luxurious.

6. Opt for low-maintenance

Whilst you may start off with good intentions, outdoor maintenance is tedious. When the sun has peeped out from behind the clouds, a spontaneous bank holiday BBQ is dampened by the need to air the seat cushions first or that the patio pavers need sealing.

Choosing products and materials that require minimal maintenance will not only save you time, but also encourage greater use of garden entertainment areas.

7. Make space for storage

For easy entertaining you want the essentials close at hand, not buried at the bottom of the shed or tucked into a dusty corner in the garage. Consider outdoor storage – there are many cleverly disguised options these days – where you can keep outdoor cushions, garden décor, even the clean BBQ utensils, close-to-hand.

If you have had enough of the cushion hokey-cokey  bringing them in and out morning and night choose garden furniture cushions you can leave outside, even in the rain.

8. Think cosy

Invite your guests to relax by making a cosy sanctuary in your garden. Create a sense of refuge and escape from the outside world by adding height into your outdoor space. Low-slung seating, like garden bean bags, facilitate a sense of surrounding height. Also, consider planting with obelisks and arches, and use existing trees, hedges and walls as inviting nooks. Tile a wall to add character to a corner.

A cosy aesthetic can be developed simply through layering textures with outdoor rugs and throws, and by using colours in the warm spectrum, like terracotta and paprika.

Two soft comfy-looking outdoor sofa chairs have been placed together in a garden corner and covered cosily with orange cushions and a pumpkin throw.

 9. Plan for the elements

“You deserve the ultimate outdoor entertaining space, whatever the weather throws at you!”  emphasises Matthew of Stiled.

Add a fire pit to keep off the evening chill – it also provides an excellent focal point for garden entertaining. Be reassured that outdoor porcelain tiles are heat resistant so you can enjoy your fire pit without fear of cracking.

Pergolas offer some protection from the wind and the sun; they are also a wonderful choice for zoning your garden entertainment area. Provide extra shade for your guests with an exquisitely beautiful parasol from the East London Parasol Company.

If there is a downpour, have a Plan B and a place to usher people undercover. Choose outdoor furniture that does not absorb water and dries quickly so you can get straight back out there after the rain. Non-slip patio tiles are essential!

Fire pit filled with burning logs on a terracotta coloured tiled patio

Image: a fire pit provides warmth, somewhere to cook alfresco, and a focal point for an outdoor entertainment area. Use Cavendish Cotto Outdoor Porcelain Tiles available from Stiled for a fire pit area - they are heat resistant and non-slip.

10. Buck the trends and focus on what you love

We all love a bit of trend-following. What’s the colour of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show? Are outdoor kitchens in or out? However, when creating a garden as a space to entertain your friends and family, we’d always recommend focusing in on your style. What makes your heart sing! A garden for entertaining is a space for you to relax too when the guests have all gone home.

Are there places you have travelled to that you’d like to mirror? For Caroline, at Armadillo Sun, it was holidays in Morocco, and evenings of food shared together outdoors, that she wanted to recreate with her soft laidback seating and bright Mediterranean colours.

“Lean into what you enjoy about gathering the people you love together outside and ensure your patio reflects your personality,”  recommends Matthew Williams of Stiled.

Your home décor style does not stop when you open the doors to your garden. Whether you love clean simple lines and a modern contemporary look, or prefer layered textures with a laidback boho vibe, you will find outdoor accessories to match.

Don’t forget these personal finishing touches when it comes to planning and budgeting for your garden for entertaining.

Once you've designed and created an outdoor space you love to host and entertain in, add colour with Armadillo Sun's step-by-step guide to a glorious colour-filled garden and get your friends over for a fabulous outdoor celebration.