The Lazy Susan guide to creating the perfect garden tablescape

Whether you’re hosting a family summer BBQ or an alfresco evening meal on your patio table for close friends, the Lazy Susan team is looking at how to create the perfect garden tablescape…

This month we have already looked at some of our favourite recipes and tableware for our garden tables, so it makes sense to look at how to take all those elements and discuss how to create the perfect garden tablescape.

A good outdoor tablescape can take your BBQ or alfresco brunch, lunch or dinner to the next level. Don’t overcomplicate it, keep things simple, but the right elements set correctly can make all the difference.

If you’re hosting friends or family, then it is the patio tablescape that sets the tone and creates the initial welcome for your guests. It shows attention to detail and thoughtfulness, making a positive first impression.

The right garden tablescape will serve to enhance the overall look and style of the dining experience. It can complement the theme of the event (such as a summer party or baby shower, for example) and add to the enjoyment.


A beautifully arranged garden table can serve as a great conversation starter. Unique or interesting centrepieces, stylish place settings, and table decor can add to the ambience and prompt discussion.

If you want to demonstrate to your guests that you’ve put effort and care into preparing for their visit, then Lazy Susan has some great tips to help get you set to enhance your dining experience.

A good outdoor tablescape is not just about aesthetics too.  It brings function. Proper arrangement of utensils, plates, and glasses will ensure you and your guests have everything to hand, helping things run smoothly and leaving you free to enjoy good food and company.

What is a garden tablescape?

What is a garden tablescape? 

To the team here at Lazy Susan, a garden tablescape is a simple and artfully arranged table setting that creates an aesthetically pleasing and thematic outdoor dining experience.

It will typically involve a combination of elements such as a tablecloth or runner, a garden table centrepiece, tableware such as plates, glasses, cutlery, napkins, flatware like knives, forks and spoons and decorative accents like candles or flowers.

For us, a good tablescape should enhance the dining experience, reflect a particular theme, or showcase your style.

It goes beyond just setting the garden table, although we firmly believe in keeping things laid back, outdoors suitable, and not overcomplicating things.

However, we like to find ways to introduce a little patio design flair and creativity to make the outdoor dining experience more memorable and visually appealing.

How do I create a garden tablescape and perfect place settings?

What is a garden tablescape? 

Creating a good tablescape for a patio table involves a mix of practical and aesthetic elements, and at Lazy Susan we have 6 outline steps you can easily follow.

By combining a theme/colour scheme, tableware, flatware, centrepiece, place settings, decorative elements, functional considerations, and a few finishing touches, you can create a stunning outdoor tablescape that enhances the garden dining experience for you and your guests.

1. Choose a garden party theme

1. Choose a garden party theme 

The starting point for creating a garden tablescape is to choose a theme. This could be as elaborate as a tropical theme for a party or as simple as a colour scheme based on the plates you plan to use.

Consider the type of event you’re hosting. Is it a special occasion, such as a summer BBQ to celebrate a new addition to the family, an elegant garden party, or a casual brunch for close friends?

Gather everything you need together and make a shopping list of things you want to get. Always start with a clean and uncluttered patio table and build from there.

Select a colour palette that not only complements the theme but also the wider colour scheme of your home and garden. As a general rule, we try and stick to 2 or 3 main colours to maintain a cohesive laid-back look.

2. Choose your outdoor table base

2. Choose your outdoor table base 

Once your patio table is clean and ready to set, start building the table setting with your table linens. A tablecloth, runner or placemats if you want to keep the intricate metalwork of our range visible as the foundation.

Our advice would be to either start with a neutral base that fits with your theme and build up from there with colourful table and glassware, or choose a bold patterned tablecloth or placemats for a more vibrant look and pair neutral tableware.

For us, placemats are a must with or without a tablecloth. They define each setting and are a great way to add a layer of colour or texture. They will also protect your patio table from spills, stains, and scratches.

3. Create a garden table centrepiece

3. Create a garden table centrepiece 

If you only do one thing on this list, then a garden table centrepiece is the must-have. Again, stylish and simple is the way to go, and one of the best options is a vase of fresh flowers or a statement potted plant.

Choose flowers that are in season and match your theme, colour scheme or with the rest of your patio space.

Other elements perfect for a centrepiece include candles or lanterns, which are fab if to like to keep the party going into the evening gatherings as they will add a warm, inviting glow.

Also, popular are seasonal touches like daffodils in spring if we get an early start on summer or seashells for a summer beach feel. Or, as we highlighted in our favourite ways to accessorise a 6-seater outdoor dining table article:

“If you want to mix the visual with the aromatic, then create a mini herb garden on the table with small potted fragrant herbs like basil, mint, and rosemary. This not only looks beautiful but also provides fresh herbs for the BBQ or meals you like to serve.”

4. Create your alfresco dining place settings

4. Create your alfresco dining place settings 

Once you have chosen your foundation, you can start building up the decorative and functional items and arrange the place settings.

Use stylish outdoor dinnerware that fits with your theme or colour scheme. A great way to add interest if you don’t want to use table linens is to layer plates with chargers for added depth.

In terms of glassware, you want to include the appropriate shape and style for the beverages you plan to serve and arrange cutlery neatly in the traditional order of use.

We looked in detail at how to set a patio table and some of our favourite outdoor tableware materials, etc in our recent favourite garden tableware and flatware for Summer 24 article.

5. Personalise your patio table set

5. Personalise your patio table set 

Often the first four steps are enough for most but depending on the occasion/type of garden gathering you’re hosting, then adding a few additional decorative and/or functional elements can be beneficial.

For example, if hosting a family BBQ, then napkins are always a must if there are things like ribs, burgers, corn on the cob, etc. We would advise you to use cloth napkins in a complementary colour as the paper ones are generally next to useless. Fold them neatly on top of plates or use napkin rings for a touch of elegance.

If the tablescape is being set for a special occasion such as a baby shower or birthday garden party, then the personal touches such as name cards or small favours placed at each setting are a great way to make guests feel welcome.

On the functional side, you can also incorporate elements for warmth such as throw blankets on chairs if you plan on hosting outside after the sun sets, lighting such as string lights, lanterns, or candles for early evening ambience, and pairing your garden chairs with cushions and a parasol to ensure comfort, especially on a sunny day.

6. Check table fit and function

6. Check table fit and function 

We talk a lot on this blog about patio fit and function. Articles such as how to measure your patio for a 6-seater garden table and chairs look at this in detail.

We will always highlight the importance of what we call “working space”, which is the free space needed for guests to move around the space, sit down comfortably, etc.

When hosting, space management becomes even more important. You need to ensure there's enough space for guests to dine comfortably. It might be that the patio table is best moved off the patio and onto the lawn for example if you need a little more elbow room.

When it comes to the tablescape itself, you also want to avoid overcrowding the table with decorations. You want what people need (tableware, glassware, flatware, condiments, etc) but you don’t want them knocking things over to get to them, so carefully consider space and layout.

Lazy Susan’s final thoughts…
Lazy Susan’s final thoughts…

The key to a good garden tablescape is consistency. Maintaining a theme, colour scheme or design elements will ensure a cohesive tablescape that is well set in terms of both look/style and functionality.

Pay attention to the small details too, such as matching napkins, coordinated plates and chargers, or stylish glassware and drinks pitcher.

The most important thing to stress though is this is a guide, not rules. Cherrypick the 6 elements or bits from each that you like or think apply to what you’re hosting.

At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you have a garden party or gathering that is fun, relaxed and you all enjoy.

Our steps will hopefully give you a little food for thought and guide you in the creation of a beautiful and inviting tablescape that enhances the outdoor dining experience for you and all your guests.

If you have any photos of your Lazy Susan Garden Table set with a beautiful tablescape, then we would love to see a few snaps for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload Your Photos Here.

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