Summer entertaining is easier when you whip your outdoor spaces into shape. A few simple tips can go a long way toward getting your projects and parties started on the right foot.

Seat walls. You might have an intimate dinner for four or a party for 20. Either way, people need places to sit. Designers often integrate seat walls into their projects, which are simply the walls of raised masonry planters designed to be comfortable to sit on. Seat walls offer a place to sit when furniture isn’t out there, or when cushions are put away for rain. They offer plenty of overflow seating when your furniture isn’t enough for all your friends and relatives.

Lighting. Evening hours are magic in the landscape because everything beyond your yard fades away. All that you perceive are elements that have been artificially illuminated. When you consider outdoor entertaining, focus on beautiful ambient lighting that gives your garden an ethereal glow without any overly bright spots. Well-done landscape lighting also allows you to enjoy 100 percent of your outdoor space after dark instead of just the patio area.

Shade. When folks come over to spend the afternoon outside, they want a cool, shady place to relax. A beam arbor for shade can be designed with custom shade cloth panels to put up during the hot season, then take down when things cool off in the fall.

Style. Outdoor entertaining spaces can be extra-special if well-designed. There is no end to the effects you can create with fog fountains, fire pits, outdoor TVs and other fun options.

Credenza. A buffet frees you up for other activities, so be sure to design a credenza flush against a wall for easy meals and hors d’oeuvres. When not used for entertaining, this table can be pressed into service for showing off plants or art. If you decide on an impromptu gathering, whether for coffee or cocktails, you have a convenient out-of-the-way place to put food and drinks without having to bring in a table.

Don’t forget cushions on seat walls so they’re comfy. Gather beautiful hanging lanterns for votive lights to dangle from tree branches and shade structures. Add a few well-designed outdoor carpets to create spots for lounging with short tables and extra-large pillows. Select large pots that reflect your personal style and stuff them full of your favorite plants to screen things off or to add foliage.

Get these details right and you’ll enjoy a whole new home — one outside that sliding door.