The Beer Garden Dreams Are Made Of

August may not have started with quite as nice weather as we saw in mid-July, but that's no reason to feel too down-hearted, as many of the best bits of a good garden are actually designed to cope with bad weather.

Greenhouses and conservatories are in their element when it's cold or rainy outside, and even a patio can be transformed into a snug shelter with a little effort.

Paving slabs give you a firm base on which to stand everything from a table and chairs, to some free-standing planters, and if you put all of those things together, you can soon have yourself the beer garden you've always dreamed of.

Where to Begin

If you're planning to build yourself a beer garden, remember that you're going to need several important ingredients:
  • a firm, flat surface (concrete paving slabs are ideal)
  • wooden or metal fence with a way in
  • some kind of canopy - wood or plant-based - to keep the rain off
  • ground-level planting (it is a garden, after all)
  • beer
These are fairly simple components that can look very striking when you put them together - concrete slabs give a flat, level surface with good drainage, the fence and canopy help to define the boundary of your beer garden, and the planting gives it a natural, relaxing feel.

Build your beer garden alongside an existing rockery, and allow your paving slabs to weather in for a more natural, lived-in look, and you can have a peace pagoda in which to sip your Pimms:

(click the image for a closer look, but be warned, it's a biggie)

The photograph above shows a beer garden paved with the Rotunda circular paving system, backing on to a wildflower rockery, and with a DIY balustrade, climbing-plant canopy and metal gate.

Hints and Tips

If you want to replicate something like that pictured above, there's a few things that are worth remembering.

First of all, you won't get that visual effect overnight. The concrete paving slabs shown are weathered in to develop a natural, stone-like patina - buy good quality at the outset to make sure your patio is still free from cracked slabs and exposed air bubbles when it reaches this age.

The planting is also mature, although in the short term you can fake it a bit by using free-standing planters to bring in some more mature plants, until those in your rockery have grown.

If you are using climbing plants to form your canopy, they will need to be quite mature too if they are to keep the rain off; alternatively, you can put a solid roof on your beer garden if you prefer.

Plan ahead for when you want to use your beer garden. Clearly you'll need somewhere to sit, whether it's a table and chairs, or just perched on the rockery wall.

In winter, you may need heat - so consider a brazier, fire pit or patio heater if you want to sit out all year round.

And if you're going to be out there at night, make sure you have lights of some kind; even candles can provide enough illumination to see your way to the gate after a few pints.

Enjoy It!

This kind of project is about adding a usable area to your garden, so make it suit your needs - if you have elderly relatives, keep your beer garden close to ground level so they don't have to negotiate steps.

If you have children, or want to entertain friends when they come to visit, you might want to add a dart board, as throwing a few arrows is a perfect way to pass the time on a hot summer's night.

And if you're feeling really ambitious, you might consider looking into outdoor fridges or portable wine chillers, particularly if you have a mains power supply running to your garden.

The sky's the limit, so don't hold back - and the next time the heavens open, you could be hearing the pitter-patter of raindrops over your head, while safe and snug in the shelter of your very own beer garden.