Tips for the Best Backyard  Entertaining

Tips for the Best Backyard Entertaining

Why settle for dinner at a five-star restaurant when you can impress your clients and other VIP guests with an evening under the stars in your own backyard?

Whether you have a small urban yard, a large suburban garden, or several green acres, your outdoor environment is an asset that should be professionally managed all year long. Instead of outsourcing lawn mowing, weed prevention, snow removal, and other tasks on an as-needed basis, create an ongoing relationship with a landscaping company, such as Mom’s Landscaping, Gray’s Landscaping, or OFlora Gardens. They offer services ranging from garden and architectural landscape design to property management, lawn and tree care, irrigation, and lighting. Make sure that the company has trained arborists with the knowledge and experience to assess the health of your trees, and to know when to trim, prune, and treat them to prevent disease.

Depending on your budget and your goals, your plan may include year-round projects including seasonal cleanup; lawn care, including weed prevention, dethatching, and fertilizing; tree and shrub care; buckthorn removal; and plantings of perennials and annuals. Shorter-term projects can include a new patio, pathways, sidewalks, and driveway, while a larger, longer-term construction project might be an outdoor kitchen, pavilion, sport court, pond, or swimming pool.

Essential to any plan this spring, however, is the concept of creating “destination” spaces outfitted for VIP-style entertaining. While decks and pools continue to be the centerpiece of many backyard environments, they’re now being embellished with such features as outdoor kitchen and seating areas.

“Depending on your ambitions, culinary prowess, and budget, your kitchen-under-the-stars can be furnished with virtually anything you’d find indoors, with the exception of an outdoor dishwasher,” which isn’t optimized for Minnesota winters, says Jim Sweeney, owner of Mom’s Landscaping. “A kitchen with a simple stone floor, granite countertops, and a gas grill will run about $15,000,” says Sweeney, “while a deluxe kitchen with a cocktail center, wine refrigerator and kegerator, a prep area for your sous-chef, an infrared gas grill with rotisserie, a charcoal-fired smoker, and other luxe features can cost upwards of $100,000 and more.” Dinner may be served around a custom dining table under the shade of an elegant canopy, or inside a luxurious pavilion furnished with rentable or leasable palm trees and other tropical plants to make your VIP guests feel like visiting royalty.

DIY Like the Pros

If you enjoy working outdoors, use these expert tips to keep your garden looking as though the landscape crew just left.

Amend Your Soil
A healthy garden begins with good, nutrient-rich soil. Have your soil tested by the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab to determine what it’s missing and then add mulch, manure, and minerals as necessary. Your flowers, plants, or shrubs will grow faster, bigger, and bloom more profusely.

Edit Your Palette
Instead of filling your cart at the landscape center with plants of every color, think like a designer and edit your selections to two or three colors, such as white and gray, purple, pink, and blue, or red, orange, and yellow.

Use Repetition
Instead of crowding your beds with a variety of shrubs in different sizes, use multiple shrubs of the same size with space in between to create a serene effect.

Expand Your Scale
Thinking of laying your own pathways? Allow enough space for two people to walk side by side to create a generous, welcoming feeling.