Gardens are wonderful places to unwind after a busy day and enjoy a relaxing meal with friends and family. The sight of pretty flowers, the aroma of fresh herbs drifting on the breeze and inviting chairs awaiting everyone on the patio immediately evokes a sense of pleasurable downtime. It is no wonder that the ‘Love the Plot You’ve Got’ campaign has launched an annual event, Al Fresco Fortnight. Kicking off on Father’s Day, Sunday 19th June, the event aims to get as many people as possible to eat outside at least once over the two week period. For more information

Participants are encouraged to stay out until the sun goes down, enjoying an Al Fresco meal outside, and to share their event on social media. Snaps of the event may even win prizes.

Planning for a successful Al Fresco Fortnight event does take time which is why you need to think well ahead. It is not just a matter of sorting out food and drink, as you need to take a close look at your garden as well. After all, the location has to be perfect!

Dirty patios, broken decking, damaged paving stones or fences that are falling down do not create a very good impression. Check out your hard landscaping as soon as possible after making a decision to hold an Al Fresco activity.

Begin by looking for any repairs that are necessary. This may require replacing some fencing, decking supports, handrails or paving stones. Give everything a thorough scrub to ensure that the surfaces are clean and shining. Check pathways for any build up of slime following the heavy rain this spring, and wash as required. Remember that safety is important, and that a relaxing evening can quickly become a nightmare if accidents happen as a result of someone tripping and hurting themselves.

Check that your seating area will accommodate everyone you have invited. There is nothing worse that having guests round, and finding that there is not enough space. Seek advice from hard landscaping specialists to discover how patios and decking can be extended quickly. For a specialist, this is a task that can be undertaken rapidly as they have the knowledge, the skills and the materials at hand. They can also build in some benches or extra planters to brighten up your patio at the same time. If necessary they can even build a new patio or lay new decking.