Well, of course you want to eat outside if you live anywhere in California. We’re famous for our sun-centric habits for a reason. Summer days are warm, evenings are cool – perfect for a romantic dinner for two, family meals, and even the most formal get-togethers. You can create a just-right dining space whether your yard is petite or expansive.
You could simply take a seat on the lawn. Thanks to your artificial grass, you and your guests won’t have to worry about dampness seeping through the seat of your pants, buggy infestations, or any off-putting order of dog “residue.” With fluffy, inviting seating at the ready, all you need is a burger or hot dog on a paper plate and your favorite beverage, and dinner is served.
Nonetheless, most dining occasions call for real seating. And, with her bad knees, your favorite Aunt Sally isn’t going to appreciate ground-level seating, no matter what. You need an official outdoor dining area. This requires some thought, because you want a space that will be easily functional as well as visually attractive and comfortable.
Where should it go?
- For aesthetics, position your table so everyone has a nice view into your yard. A central location works best for that in most yards.
- If you have an extended awning or patio cover that will shade your table – or shade from trees -- that’s wonderful. If not, a gazebo-style roof or a pergola will help fend off the sun. You can add a retractable awning or plant pretty, flowering vines to cover the top of your structure. Or you can strategically place umbrellas to provide shade and reduce sunny glare.
- For practicality, place your table close enough to the kitchen to avoid lengthy hikes back and forth. Not too close to the hot barbecue, though!
What furniture should you choose?
Backyard eating and entertaining have become so popular, outdoor furniture options have expanded exponentially. You can still use an old-fashioned picnic table with benches, if you want, but you have many more choices, from the purely practical to high-tech, high fashion suites that include upholstered sofas and chairs as well as dining furniture. With all that, it’s easy to find something that matches your style, your space, and your budget.
Need a little inspiration? Sunset offers no less than 41 different ideas for designing your backyard dining space and furnishing it with pieces that fit beautifully. Feeling thrifty? Here are 21 more ideas direct from This Old House, all of them budget-friendly.
Consider the bigger picture
Adding an outdoor dining area can transform your outdoor living and your entire backyard landscape. This is one reason many home owners are creating outdoor kitchens to enhance their al fresco dining area. You can add a few amenities to make outdoor grilling more convenient, or go whole hog with a complete outfit including grilling range, ovens, and refrigeration.
Whether you go all-in or confine yourself to adding a hard-surfaced area to house your dining table and grill, the materials you use for construction can turn the space into an attractive hardscape feature. Interesting flagstone, colored concrete, brick, or pavers all contrast beautifully with your artificial grass lawn. And they provide stable, fire-safe footing. Coordinating materials for cabinets and countertops give you year-round weather-resistant space for food prep and for serving drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Naturally, you’ll want to show off your splendid new outdoor dining area. So when Thanksgiving rolls around, why not invite everyone over for barbecued turkey?
Is it time to eat yet?