Perhaps it's our climate, but dining alfresco seems to have reached new heights of popularity in recent years.
And the more enticing your outdoor area is, the more you'll use it - for eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Follow these ideas for creating the perfect space
1. If you love the look of a European restaurant-style courtyard, create your own at home (see above). The ingredients are simple: gravel flooring, a pair of bistro chairs, a round metal table and a couple of terracotta pots.
What to plant: Simple clipped greenery is the look to go for here, so plant up a pair of trimmed buxus in terracotta pots and set up the scene against a tall, private hedge.
2. Traditional-style cane seating instantly evokes the classic look of a plantation verandah. But you can mix it up with a more contemporary table. Just ensure that cane stays under cover so it doesn't deteriorate.
What to plant: Use a pair of potted conifers to frame a dining nook; Wollemi pines would be ideal. Then add hardy foliage plants, and box, with a few potted herbs as table pieces.
3. Built-in bench seating is a brilliant idea for an outdoor dining spot, similar to the banquette benches often seen in restaurants. It works best in courtyards, where you can locate the benches against a wall, and you can also incorporate raised planter boxes into the design,. To accommodate extra guests, a few stackable chairs will do the trick.
What to plant: Raised beds call for low-maintenance plants so you're not watering constantly. New Zealand flax, liriope and Philodendron 'Xanadu' will all take the combination of sun, shade and heat which will confront them in a courtyard like this.
4. Rethink your garden pathways as potential outdoor eating nooks. Here, a broad pathway with sandstone flagging becomes a romantic eating retreat, thanks to elegant iron furniture and a pair of brilliant blue cushions.
What to plant: Evoke the ambience of a Tuscan-style courtyard by growing climbing roses over an ochre-washed wall.
5. Size really doesn't matter when it comes to outdoor dining. Even a space just 3-4m deep can be given the dining-room treatment, as long as the scale of the furniture is chosen accordingly.
What to plant: You can still enjoy trees in a small courtyard; simply restrict their roots to a tub.
6. If you have a spacious garden, then consider creating a couple of outdoor eating spots. You may need to pave an area, or lay down lawn.
What to plant: In leafy shady gardens with tall trees overhead, plant ferns, preferably Australian species, as low-maintenance groundcover plants. In drier regions, bromeliads are ideal.
7. Don't only consider sunny, open parts of the garden when you're casting around for an outdoor dining spot. In hot climates, it might just be that densely shaded back corner of the garden that's the nicest place to be on a summer afternoon.
What to plant: Shade lovers rule in spots like this - try hydrangeas, rhododendrons, buxus and ground-covering persicaria.