There’s something truly magical about dining outdoors in your garden. Whether it’s breakfast on the patio, a picnic lunch on the lawn, tea on the terrace, or a fancy supper on a balmy summer evening – feasting al fresco makes happy moments with friends and family all the more memorable.
Whether you’re planning to design a new garden from scratch, or want to incorporate a outdoor dining area into an existing garden, we’ve gathered plenty of inspiration to whet your appetite, from the secluded corners of cottage gardens to lunch spots with breathtaking views and pretty country summerhouses.
1. Design a cottage courtyard
Small is beautiful, as this idyllic little cottage patio proves. Overlooked by a pretty blossom tree, it’s a magical space for spring brunches.
For similar striped seat pads try Garden Trading.
2. Create an outdoor living space in your patio
For similar furniture try Garden Trading .
3. Make the most of a small patio
With plenty of small bistro dining sets available, you can make the most of even the most modest of patio spaces, whether it's for supper for two or a perch for some much needed gardening refreshment.
For a similar option to this wooden bistro set, try customising Ikea’s TÄRNÖ design with a lick of paint and adding some pretty cushions.
Find out how to paint furniture with our guide.
4. Have lunch on the veranda
Dating back to the 15th century, but remodelled in the 17th, this former priory boasts a beautiful loggia perfect for admiring the garden over lunch. Classic white wrought iron garden furniture looks beautiful set against the red brick.
For similar, try Lorfords Antiques.
5. Match your dining set and your patio stone
Re-landscaped with beautiful honeyed drystone walling, this sunken patio beautifully complements the rustic charm of this renovated Cotswold cottage. With its charming rustic patina, the vintage bistro set is the perfect fit.
6. Create a dining area in a wild setting
Perched at the top of this long, wild cottage garden is a perfectly placed dining table and chairs. Surrounded on three sides by the garden and countryside, it is a beautiful place to watch the sun set, and enjoy a glass of wine after a meal. Set on the Sandlings peninsula, a stone’s throw from the sea, it is also a brilliant place for breakfast in the garden — a refreshing start to any day.
7. Create a lunch spot beneath the loggia
This beautifully constructed loggia with Cotswold stone columns, added to a grade II-listed home in 2010, offers a perfect shaded spot for lunching on a hot summer’s day. A talented artist with a penchant for colour, the homeowner has added colour accents with plenty of potted plants, deckchair stripe bunting, and even plates on the wall. To create a magical mood and keep warm after dark there’s also an outdoor fireplace, fitted pendant lamp and wall sconces for candles.
Read more about planning your garden lighting.
8. Accessorise with plenty of soft furnishings
There’s no better end to a warm summer’s day than a relaxed meal with friends and family. For a laid-back festival vibe, try creating an impromptu table from a few salvaged crates and layering plenty of colourful fabrics and cushions to create a comfy space to hang out.
Covered in tropical-inspired prints in a palette of paprika, fuchsia, teal and lime, Zapara collection from Harlequin really captures the holiday mood. From £38 per metre.
9. Make the most of water features in your garden
If you’re lucky enough to have a lake, or any water feature in your garden, take the opportunity to watch the wildlife it attracts by creating a wonderful outdoor dining area at the water’s edge. A wall of bi-fold doors in this summerhouse open out on to a covered veranda, where a rattan outdoor dining set creates a wonderfully secluded spot.
10. Transform your terrace into a tree-top retreat
Set amid the dappled shade of the tree-tops and boasting beautiful birds-eye vistas, the raised deck adjoining this stunning Somerset country home makes for a magical outdoor dining setting. Vintage flower-filled planters and a vase of garden flowers make it even more idyllic.
11. Choose the best spot for your outdoor dining area
When William James bought his house in the Dordogne region of France, he invested in the land opposite the house, too, where he has created a terraced garden. To make the most of the dramatic views over the French countryside, he included a private but spectacular al fresco dining area, surrounded by David Austin roses that William planted himself, and among which he often has tea on a summer afternoon.
Find out how transform your terrace or balcony into an atmospheric outdoor living and dining area.
12. Create a secluded cottage garden setting
Surrounded by tall trees and a bustle of hollyhocks, climbing roses, lilac bushes and other plants for traditional gardens, the secluded patio of this old village bakery would make a dreamy spot for afternoon tea with friends, and maybe a few feathered visitors!
13. Introduce elements of vintage garden design
What Victorian veranda would be complete without an ornate, wrought iron breakfast table with matching chairs? Enjoy a relaxing start to your day, and admire your garden in the freshness of morning, breakfasting at an outdoor dining table. It also makes the perfect little perch where a gardener can pull up a seat for a lunch break, or enjoy a coffee and survey their hard work.
14. Add an ornate dining set
Oh to have a lake in your back garden! Conjuring picturesque Capability-Brown vistas, the magnificent grounds of this renovated Victorian watermill offer a breathtaking backdrop for garden parties. A vintage wrought iron garden table teamed with traditional benches are the perfect furniture pieces to sit and admire the view.
For similar, try Barlow Tyrie's Sissinghurst design.
15. Add a country summerhouse – or a garden room
Whether it’s a space to socialise, or to enjoy quiet moments of reflection, a summerhouse is a brilliant way to make the most of your garden – all you need is
a lick of paint and some pretty fabrics to bring it to life.
Offering a beautiful mix of prints based on her family’s original art, Vanessa Arbuthnott’s Artist's Collection of fabrics is perfect for creating a folksy feel. Opt for pinks, reds and yellows teamed with pea green paint for a cheery summer palette.
16. Combine dining accessories to create a Scandi look
What could be more romantic than dining on the shores of a Swedish lake? Echo the serenity of this natural setting with the classic silhouettes of Scandinavian furniture teamed with rustic materials and textures.
Danish brand House Doctor has the ideal pieces to achieve the look, including Walker chairs, £144, linen tablecloths, £96 each, simple ceramics, from £5.75, and rattan accessories, from £54 for a set of three baskets.