Summer entertaining: Spend less time preparing, more time enjoying

(ARA) – There’s no question why summer is the best-loved season of the year: it’s all about fun, relaxation and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. So, it follows that homeowners don’t want to waste a minute of those glorious months of sunshine. When planning traditional summer get-togethers, save time by taking steps to ensure that your outdoor spaces are as low-maintenance as possible so that the focus is on the party, rather than the prep.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending hours preparing your home and yard before throwing a party, whether it’s the week before or the day of the event. Focusing on outdoor living spaces ahead of time with plants and products that need minimal attention will save stress and give you more time to enjoy the season.

As summer arrives, keep these time-saving tips in mind for an outdoor environment that’s as beautiful as it is low-maintenance.

* Set the stage in just one step. Having the right set-up for outdoor entertaining can take your party from standard to superb. Installing a deck provides the perfect gathering space for get-togethers but also serves as a functional area for everyday family dining. Make it easy by choosing low-maintenance decking materials like those from TimberTech, including composite and PVC decking products that eliminate time-consuming sanding, staining and painting. Because the company also offers railing and lighting, you can opt for a package that coordinates seamlessly and is covered by a 25-year warranty.

* Pick plants wisely. Wilting plants can put a damper on party decor and tending finicky flowers can eat up a lot of time in the garden, so making the right plant choices is important. Select varieties that are suited to the regional climate – as well as their location in the yard. Once you’ve decided where to place the pots and containers, head to the garden store to pick out complementary arrangements that will thrive in full sun, partial shade or full shade, depending on your unique yard. When plants are in their preferred spots, they’ll do much of the work on their own – you’ll just need to water when appropriate.

* Keep it together. Since most summer gatherings involve food and beverages, it’s a good idea to keep a set of serving items that can withstand the outdoor exposure, like shatter-proof plates and drink ware. To save time and hassle when preparing for the party, keep all outdoor accessories in one place so that everything is easy to find. A bar cart can be a handy tool for keeping supplies together, and storing serving ware in airtight containers helps to keep it clean and in good condition.

* Take a seat. Everyone likes to do a little lounging on those sultry summer nights, so be sure to give guests a place to relax and sit back. If your outdoor furniture has seen better days, the wide availability of durable, weather-resistant chairs, chaises and benches makes it easy to furnish a deck in low-maintenance style. For a budget-friendly option, buying new cushions and covers can add a fresh touch to existing furniture if it’s still sturdy. With today’s high-quality weather-resistant materials, preparing furniture for a party can be as easy as a quick wipe-down.

Switching the focus from yard maintenance to outdoor enjoyment will make the summer season that much more pleasant. For more information about creating a beautiful outdoor living space, visit