Making the most of your outdoor areas can bring in great rewards; from being able to increase your trading capacity to attracting a wider audience or increasing on-site spend. If that wasn’t enough, they can also act as an advert for passing trade. Please take a look at our inspirational ideas, top tips and a few helpful reminders as we open up our open spaces.

Keep things tidy & safe:
We often overlook maintenance when we are busy looking after customers. A clean, safe environment has been proven to promote dwell time and increase onsite spend.

  • Trim your trees, mow the lawn, power wash the paving and brush the decking.
  • Restrict customers to public spaces by clearly roping off or signposting operational areas.
  • Make sure to check furniture and outdoor items to ensure they are in good working order.
  • Clear spillages and breakages immediately and have someone responsible for the upkeep of outside areas.
  • Provide ashtrays and signpost a designated smoking area in your outside space.

    Keep everyone connected:
    Many customers will be checking social media for updates and will expect a certain level of tech savviness.

        • Take pictures of your hard work and post them on social media to show customers how inviting your space is, whilst reassuring them it's also covid safe.
        • Ensure your wi-fi reaches all outside areas and highlight the password for easy access.
        • Where possible, simplify the ordering process, maybe through digital ordering apps.

    Cater for everyone:
    If you are lucky enough to have the room, cater for children and our four-legged friends.

        • Investing in a couple of large garden games is a quick and easy way to entertain children, Connect 4, garden chess, table tennis and table football are all winning options.
        • Put out dog bowls (especially in the summer) and keep them topped up. If you want to go the extra mile, pet parents will always appreciate a jar of free treats on the bar.


    Food (and drink!) for thought:
    There's a few ways to make outdoor service that little bit easier and more profitable.

        • Operate a barbecue or pizza service with existing facilities or trial it with rental equipment before investing.
        • Install a second, pop-up bar outside to serve your core range.
        • Use portable draught technology to spread the load. Chat to us about draught beer in 30L poly-pins. They’re perfect for outdoor serves.
        • Think about large summer serves such as jugs of Pimms or cocktail options.

    Try to keep everything bright and beautiful:
    First impressions count. They hint at what’s inside. Well-maintained hanging baskets and displays are an easy way to brighten things up and add interest to hardstanding, walls or facades. There’s no escaping the work involved, as they will be as thirsty as your customers come the summer.

        • Don’t put them out just yet as we can still have frosts. Think about getting them ready for the wider opening date, as mid-May is the perfect time to hang your baskets.

    It’s all about that base:
    When creating your baskets, invest in a good quality compost. Look for one that includes a controlled-release fertiliser as it is essential for that initial growing period.

        • Consider your options for subsequent feeding as each watering washes away nutrients. We’ve heard that basic tomato food works well and can be a cost-effect option.
        • When selecting your baskets chose the largest possible to allow enough space for the roots.
        • Place something inside your hanging basket to act as a water reservoir. A small saucer would work well.

    Selecting your plants.
    Consider where your baskets and containers will be sited when selecting your plants. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

        • Mix it up a bit. Use some trailing plants and greenery as well as bright colour. Consider plants that add aroma or use culinary herbs or use succulents in sunny locations.
        • Consider a theme that’s in keeping with your your building, or the colours in your signage.

    Planting up.
    Make your baskets and containers as full as you can. You don’t want them to end up looking sparse. If will also allow you to maintain the plants on rotation without affecting the overall look.

        • For a large basket you may need 8 to 9 small plants. Pop some trailing plants through holes in the sides of the liner and to the edge at the top of the basket to add some depth.

    If you have a lot of baskets, you may wish to consider irrigation system, but if you are going to get stuck in yourself, here are a couple of tips.

        • Wind can also dry out hanging baskets. Try and avoid over-exposed areas such as corners when siting them.
        • Deadhead old flowers and remove dried or spotted leaves to inspire new shoots and blooms. Follow this with fertiliser so you provide fuel for regrowth.
        • Don’t fertilise a thirsty plant. Water well, let it sit for a couple of hours and then feed.

    Dual-purpose planting.
    As well as adding colour and interest, plants, shrubs, hedges and trees can serve a practical purpose as they can also act as screens, windbreaks and shade.

        • Trees, large shrubs and climbing plants need deep containers. They are also weightier and less likely to topple in windy weather. A loam-based compost is heavy, so is useful for tall plants in windy locations. Keep the compost evenly moist and feed during their growing phase from spring through to late autumn.

    And now for something completely different…
    If you are worried about looking after plants at the same time as running a busy pub, you could investigate alternatives that replace or reduce the volume of planting required.

        • Why not include some structural items with a local connection, for example buoys or lobster pots if you are by the sea. Swap some baskets for colanders if you are a food-led pub or find something quirky and fun to intrigue your younger visitors.
        • There are some amazing upcycling ideas out there, which could also inspire others or create a talking point. It might even encourage some social media sharing.
        • Don’t forget to add something for wildlife if you can.
        • If the budget allows, you may wish to add lights to highlight your displays, especially in darker areas.

    Good luck out there. We’re rooting for you!

    Published 02/06/2021