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Making the most of it

Whether you’re hosting the family for a full Christmas feast or just throwing some snags on the barbie when friends drop by, alfresco dining poolside is hard to beat. But it takes more than a pool to create an inviting oasis that your guests will want to spend time in. Here’s a few things to consider if you want to make the most of your investment and keep the party going.

Gimme Shelter

Nothing kills an outdoor party quicker than a blazing hot day with no respite, and even the most sun-loving among us will feel the pull of the aircon if there’s no place to hide. Offering your guests protection from the sun in the form of shade cloths, umbrellas or more permanent structures like gazebos can transform your dining experience from a ‘smash and grab’ affair with a quick dip in the pool to a long, leisurely lunch that stretches well into the afternoon.

You’ve already invested in your outdoor space, so double down and select an option that will not only reduce glare and provide shade, but also give protection from wind and rain as the weather starts to cool, allowing you to enjoy alfresco dining even as the days grow shorter.

Let there be light

As the afternoon fades into night, bring your pool and garden to life with strategically placed lighting. There are so many options: festoon lights can be strung from trees, along fence lines or on permanent structures, creating an instant party vibe; spike lights are easy to move around and can be focused on plants or other garden features; bollards can be used on pathways to guide visitors back to the house; and smaller decorative lamps or candles can add glamour and atmosphere to the table. Keep mozzies at bay with some citronella candles or lanterns, giving off a tropical feel without the risk of malaria.

You’ll find outdoor weatherproof lighting options to suit every application and budget including mains-powered, low-voltage and solar choices. Think about the location as well as the desired effect, ensuring you have access to power if needed and test your placement before the main event, to ensure your chosen arrangement won’t create glare or shine in anyone’s eyes once night falls.

A seat at the table

Never underestimate the joy a comfy seat can bring. If you’re planning on settling in for the long haul, think about seating arrangements. While a sturdy hardwood table and benches may be a long-lasting weatherproof option, they can be a little hard on your guests.

Soften things up with cushions or chair pads and even some loungers or a hammock located in a shaded area, creating the perfect spot for a post-lunch siesta.

Luscious landscaping

Speaking of softening, poolside planting can do wonders to mitigate hard surfaces and create a natural-feeling oasis. Speak with a landscaping expert to get advice on the best options for your location to not only create the look you are after, but to ensure plants will thrive in prevalent conditions. If the budget doesn’t quite extend to a landscape architect, garden centres and major hardware stores abound with helpful staff who can provide advice.

For added flair when hosting friends and family at a special event, consider bringing in portable pots to create a mobile jungle, but ensure you adhere to pool fencing safety standards with respect to non-climbable zones around the entire pool barrier.

One of the great joys of living in Australia is our fantastic climate and long, lazy summers by the pool. Creating an inviting backyard retreat gives you a place to get away from it all and to entertain friends in style — while making the most of your investment.

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