- Primp your garden to perfection
- Make your space pop with lighting
- Get set for the great British weather
Plant a seed
Depending on how far ahead you plan, you could add a few seasonal plants for a bit of extra colour. If you've got plenty of sun, solanum crispum 'Glasnevin' (or the 'potato tree') will thrive and produce fragrant violet-blue flowers during the summer. For those with more shade, try hydrangea anomala, which will produce pretty white flowers in the warmer months.
Placing herbs on your windowsills could also be a good move – they'll look and smell great, and you can use them in salads and summer drinks. Have a sweep around and make sure you've pruned everything back that you can – it's surprising how much of a difference tidying up the shrubs will make.
If you've invested in flora and furniture for the occasion, LV= offers £1,000 cover for your garden plants and another £1,000 for contents out in the open – barbecues and garden furniture, for example.
Wow factor wins
If the weather's fine, you could create small seating areas around the garden with cushions, blankets or even teepees made from bamboo sticks, string and a tablecloth – perfect for groups to chat.
'The one thing that gives a party or event the "wow" factor is lighting,' says Caroline Smith, director of party planning company Do Events. 'Clever, innovative lighting creates the ultimate ambience, whether you're following a theme or simply lighting a space. Get the lighting right and the rest will follow.' If you have a rockery or pathway that your guests will need to navigate, it might be worth popping some solar-powered LEDs along it, as they have no cables or batteries to worry about.
For those of you who plan to cook the bulk of your menu on a barbecue – the ultimate summer food staple – what type is best for you? Charcoal tends to be cheaper, and gives the food a distinct chargrilled taste. The downside? It can take a while to get going and sometimes cooks unevenly.
Gas barbecues are more expensive, but they start immediately, cook evenly and some even allow you to set multiple temperatures for different types of food.
Shelter from the storm
We all know what to expect when it comes to the great British weather: glorious sunshine peppered with torrential rainstorms and a little humidity for good measure. But we're not going to let a little unpredictable weather get in the way – in fact, it just wouldn't be the same without it. Caroline advises planning for the rain:
'Always have furniture sets that can be moved easily, and plan your event space so that, wherever possible, the party elements can be recreated under cover or moved inside,' she recommends.
If that's not an option, a gazebo could prove useful come rain or intense shine – plus, it'll protect the food and provide a handy serving area.
'Give your guests places to shelter that are comfortable, warm and fun,' says Caroline, 'so that it takes the edge off the rain and cold to keep them in the party mood.'
Decorate your serving table with linen and fresh flowers, and add bunting to the gazebo for a 'tea party on the village green' feel. If you're planning on pumping out the tunes, you can tuck your speakers inside the shelter, too – just make sure your chosen party DJ has impeccable taste!
If your summer garden party is on the horizon, just remember the three Ps: planning, pruning and prosecco all round! But more importantly, have fun – if you have a great time, your guests will too.