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Summer Entertaining Made Simple with Terrain

Right when the weather begins to warm, we start summoning daydreams of the perfect patio. There’s nothing better than gathering some friends in the garden, cooking something simple and shareable, and entertaining outdoors. We talk to the creative director at Terrain, the ultimate one-stop shop for backyard essentials, on how to make the most of the months ahead.
Rip & Tan: How do you make entertaining easy and low-pressure?
Greg Lehmkuhl: Planning far enough out. You can set up your entertaining spaces so that you’re always ready for guests by gathering all of the seasonally appropriate things you need to make a party happen at the spur of the moment.
Rip & Tan: What are your favorite summertime traditions?
Greg Lehmkuhl: Lazy hangouts on the porch and gardening well into the evening.
Rip & Tan: Do you have any advice for a first-timer starting their own garden or outdoor area? What are some low-maintenance plants or decorative items one can invest in?
Greg Lehmkuhl: Before you do anything permanent, put in pea gravel to define your space and use that for a season or two. That way you can see if it’s the layout for you and make changes to the size and flow before you make permanent hardscaping or garden placement decisions.

Another thing is to pick one thing to make a statement  – a swath of grasses, a xeriscape of cacti, or a bed of your favorite Hosta. If you choose plants that have 2-3 seasons of interest and layer those swaths, you’ll have something to look at year-round.
Rip & Tan: What are your three essentials for entertaining outdoors?
Greg Lehmkuhl: Lighting is crucial, so bigger lanterns to cluster on the patio and votives for the table. And benches so you have plenty of moveable seating.
Rip & Tan: What do you keep on hand for planning a party? What do you always have stocked for last-minute gatherings?
Greg Lehmkuhl: A good fire pit and enough space for the wood because you never want to run out. Wish paper is nice to have on hand for the kids, and outdoor blankets because in case it gets chilly, and big outdoor lounge pillows.
Rip & Tan: How do you relax and enjoy your own party?
Greg Lehmkuhl: If you’re planned out and your space is ready, it’s easier to relax. I like to keep parties small and intimate with friends and neighbors, and don’t sweat the small stuff. The unplanned neighbor gathering is the best because no one expects that you’ve spent weeks getting ready.

I also love giving impromptu garden tours at parties. It’s interesting to see what people zero in on and respond to in the garden.

"Whether it’s compostable utensils or cloth napkins, you don’t have to use something more expensive necessarily, but just something more thoughtful."

Rip & Tan: We always think it’s the details that make the difference. What attention do you pay most to when hosting friends and family?
Greg Lehmkuhl: Considering everything that people take for granted – from paper plates to utensils to napkins. Whether it’s compostable utensils or cloth napkins, you don’t have to use something more expensive necessarily, but just something more thoughtful.
Rip & Tan: What is most important to consider when shopping for outdoor furniture?
Greg Lehmkuhl: Defining the space where you’re going to put it. The outside is such a big room and it can be a struggle to get the right scale in such an infinitely large space as the outdoors, so breaking it up into the gathering areas you want will dictate what furniture you need.
Rip & Tan: Do you have any favorite recipes or cocktails you always rely on?
Greg Lehmkuhl: There’s a distillery local to Philadephia – Art in the Age – that makes a chicory flavored vodka that I love with Pelligrino Limonata.
Photos by Melissa Gidney