How to create a cozy beer garden for a pub, bar or restaurant

December 1, 2022 0 Comments

It’s that time of year again when you need to start thinking about your garden for the summer. Here are some helpful ideas:


First and foremost, a garden connected to a pub, bar or restaurant should feel like a garden and not an interior space. Many homeowners try to continue interior finishes to the exterior, which defeats the purpose of a garden atmosphere. The garden should have exterior features such as stone and brick and the furniture should look like outdoor furniture. On my travels I found many beer gardens with wood slats and cloth-covered bar stools; these areas try to resemble interior spaces. Instead, try to embrace the atmosphere of the outdoor garden, working with the multitude of materials and finishes that are available to transform a bland space into an exciting outdoor experience.


Decide on your style or theme and then do some research.

Look at the building and its walls: are there any existing features that might dictate a style or be embellished?

Keep the theme from the inside to the outside; For example, if you have an Art Deco interior, try incorporating Art Deco statues, tiles, or lamps into the exterior instead of making it a generic garden. Similarly, if it’s a traditional pub with lots of bric-a-brac, take the bric-a-brac outside.


climatic considerations

The glare/warmth factor: use canopies, plants, or colored glass to diffuse.

Wind: Wear windbreaks. Anything can be designed to reduce the wind factor: willow fencing, metal or wood framing with glass or canvas windbreaks. I recently designed a trellis planter and since it was on wheels it was mobile which worked great for my client.

When deciding on the position of your seats, take into account which direction the wind is coming from.

Rain: Provide adequate cover for smokers in bad weather. In particularly humid climates, a permanent fixture solution such as glass in a wood or glass frame will be much easier to maintain than a canvas canopy. The glass means that daylight/sunlight can pass through, which is important on those hot summer days. If it is too hot or there is a lot of light, external blinds can be installed.


Before building anything, it is important to know what the local regulations are. In Ireland, the pattern for covering areas is described as a bus shelter where the roof covers an area that has walls that are 50% open and 50% closed.


Divide smokers from non-smokers if you have space.

Opening the windows may not be an option as smoke can get inside and customers don’t like this.

Provide ashtrays on tables and some sand buckets around where cigarette butts can be removed for cleanup.


Make sure views are good and do not face dumpster/waste areas or parking lots. Use netting with plants or wooden fencing to hide unsightly areas.


Again, use outdoor accessories that suit your style, whether it’s modern or traditional. The lights can be installed on all kinds of things and places. Try outdoor LED string lights under baseboards at a low level or on top of a wall for a nice warm glow. Often you can find an accessory that turns on and off, giving you double the benefit. Choose lighting that will create ambiance without giving your customers a glare headache. Candles always look fabulous in a garden setting placed in simple glass jam jars, bird cages or vintage colanders or metal objects. If you have an outdoor bar, make it glow in the dark with candles and LED string lights.


Check your local regulations on this: in many cases, outdoor bars must be located in a smoke-free area; otherwise, the bartender will be subject to smoke inhalation. If using wood, use teak or a suitable exterior wood with as little detail as possible so water doesn’t collect in its crevices. Using wood outdoors means that you will have to commit to maintaining it. Being subject to all types of weather means that whatever finish you use, it will need to be refilled regularly. Stone countertops are great because the water runs off. Use lockable refrigerators and under-counter units for added security. Make sure there is a permanent cover over the Bar and the customer so the counter can be used in all weather.


Flowers make people smile, so go wild with them! Use colors to fit your garden palette. It’s always good to have a few varieties in a pot or pot in case one of them fails. You can plant flowers anywhere as long as there are holes for the water to come out: buckets, bicycles, beds… take a look at these ideas. Ask your plumber to install a piped irrigation system set on a timer with feeds for all your plants and flowers. It can be set to water at night so runoff water is gone by morning. Swap out your pots for ivies and small trees like boxwood hedges in the winter for an evergreen look.

I recommend you hire a designer to guide you through all of this. The advice of a professional pays off and you can usually agree with a designer on how much to go into to fit their budget.

For more garden ideas, check out the blog posts at

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