Photos by Ryan Benoit

11 Tips for Throwing a Super Bowl Party in Your Garden

Photos by Ryan Benoit

This February — sorry, cold-weather friends! — we can’t think of a better excuse for throwing a garden party than Super Bowl XLVIII. So…who’s ready for some fresh air and football?

Plus, an outdoor Super Bowl viewing is a prime way to display your green thumb alongside your tech thumb. (Don’t have one? Read on.) Even if it just means bringing a second TV out to your balcony or patio this Sunday, we hope this guide will help your garden get its game face on…

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Cinder blocks have many uses in our garden, including an impromptu TV stand.

1. Setting up a garden TV

The TV will of course be the focal point during the matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos — whether your guests are crowded around that third-and-long play, or betting Anthony Kiedis will go shirtless at halftime. With today’s lightweight flat-panel LCDs, bringing a TV into the garden or patio is easier than ever. (If you don’t have an LCD, the setup is just a bit heavier.) Here are some tips on setting up a TV in your garden:

- Reducing glare. Avoid sun glare by placing your TV in a shady area of your garden next to shade-loving acquaintances such as bromeliads or fuschias, or, arrange the TV facing south. Glare is normally only a problem during the first half of the game. Even on a cloudy day, you’ll still get some glare.

- Hooking up the TV. Depending on where you decide to place your TV, if you don’t have a wireless cable box, you’ll probably need to purchase a long HDMI cable — and fortunately, their prices have come way down. (This 30-foot cable can be found for $13.99 on Amazon.) If you’re keeping your first TV indoors and taking a second into the yard, the best way to broadcast a second display is to use an HDMI 1X2 switch ($22, Amazon). This allows you to split the HDMI video output from one cable box to two displays.

Here's that 1X2 HDMI splitter. Important: make sure the splitter is 1X2 and not 2X1. The first number represents HDMI inputs and the second number HDMI outputs. The splitter needs to be plugged in (power is necessary to amplify the two output signals).

Here’s that 1X2 HDMI splitter. Important: make sure the splitter is 1X2 and not 2X1. The first number represents HDMI inputs and the second number HDMI outputs. The splitter needs to be plugged in (power is necessary to amplify the two output signals).

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Our cable company hooked up our second TV with a complimentary wireless receiver. It saved the cable guy from having to run a cable across the interior of the house. A wireless cable receiver makes it very easy to bring the TV to any spot in your garden.

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Not your grandma’s rabbit ears! Today’s HD antennas are modern and inexpensive. This HD antenna from HomeWorX is $9.50 with free shipping on Amazon Prime.

If you don’t have cable, most of the country’s local networks now broadcast in HD over the airwaves and an HD antenna will do the trick.

- Hiding power cords. Even if you have a wireless receiver, you’ll still need a power cord for your garden TV. Hide them: Not only do cords clutter your space, they also present a tripping hazard for you, your guests and your guests’ kids. If you don’t have power and video already installed in your garden, we recommend running a long extension cord around the perimeter of your outdoor space and out of the way.

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We constructed a semi-permanent shallow cableway under our patio pavers to hide our AV cables. Cables pass through a cinder block which sits on a bed of gravel for drainage.

But with the Winter Olympics and World Cup around the corner, why not consider a more permanent setup?

2. Projecting the game

Believe it or not, HD projector quality (brightness and contrast) has gone up as prices have come way down. Most quality projectors now cost less than a 50″ LCD flat panel. As much as we love the big screen, however, it won’t be dark enough outside until late in the second quarter, after 5 PM on West Coast.

At halftime, this will be the big screen that everyone will want to watch. You’ll need the same HDMI connections that the typical TV requires, plus you need to bring in sound separately, as most projectors do not have useable speakers.

There are several options for screens. We built a hideaway for our $100 pull-down screen. Other portable options are readily available. The screen on right is from Camp Chef at $200. You could also project onto the side of your house for $0.00!

There are several options for screens. We built a hideaway for our $100 pull-down screen (left). Other portable options are readily available. The screen on the right is from Camp Chef at $225. You could also project on the side of your house or a bed sheet for a lot less, however, a real screen provides better contrast especially in conditions with higher ambient light.

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We snapped this photo at around 4:30 PM recently here in San Diego (which will likely be around the start of the second quarter), when light is low enough to see the game. All projectors and setups will be different; perhaps do a quick dry run to see when you’ll be able to set up the projector.

3. Create your sound garden 

We highly recommend not relying on your TV for sound; the audio on most flat-panel TVs cannot compete with a noisy party with more than 10 guests. We recommend either installing an outdoor sound system (not as difficult as it sounds, plus you can leave it there!) or using today’s widely available compact sound systems like Jambox, which we love.

Keep the volume reasonable, of course — otherwise you should probably invite the neighbors…

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jambox

We like Jambox by Jawbone for high-quality sound. Plus, the better the sound quality, the less volume you’ll need. If your TV does not have a headphone connection, you’ll need an RCA male to 3.5mm female Y connector like the one above. This adapter allows you to plug your portable speaker into a receiver or TV that only has RCA out (L and R) connections.

4. Serve up your garden in a glass 

No matter what size your garden is or what you grow, serve your guests something fresh and plant-tastic to make it feel like a garden party! We’re building our menu to include a vegan chili, rosemary potatoes (seasoned by our hedge), split-pea soup and citrus-marinated chicken, with the recipe modified to incorporate tangerines from our tree.

For drinks, we’re also bringing the tangerines into this bourbon citrus punch that’s sure to make a splash.

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We’re incorporating citrus from the tangerine and orange trees (canopying our screen, no less) into our food and drink menus.

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5. Go growlers!

No, the “Growlers” are not a team in the NFL. Growlers are a great way to bring in a variety of fresh craft beer to your party, plus they’re reusable. In other words, these jugs are a thoughtful alternative to the unholy union that is kegs and Solo cups.

Many of your local breweries will refill your 96-ounce growlers for about $10-15, plus the $6-8 initial add-on for the growler bottle itself. When your guests ask, “What can I bring?”, say growlers. (Or you could just growl at them; they’ll understand immediately.)

 

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Growler prices are on the far right. We filled up a couple growlers during our last trip to Alpine Brewery.

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6. Make a chalkboard for Super Bowl squares (and then, for your garden chores)

You now have the perfect reason to paint a 4-foot-by-4-foot panel of wood with chalkboard paint. Use it for Super Bowl squares, and then later use it to list your garden chores.

If you wanna go cra-aazy, roll on some magnetic primer before you apply the chalkboard paint and make the whole thing a magnet board for pinning up inspiration shots.

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7. Bring in the plants

Of course this is an opportunity to freshen up your garden beds or replenish your containers. In addition to your favorite nursery, have you checked your local swap meet? One of our favorite purveyors of healthy shade plants happens to operate out of Kobey’s Swap Meet.

Floral arrangements and centerpieces will also provide an interesting contrast to all the gridiron grit. You could even choose flowers according to the team colors: orange and blue for the Denver Broncos and green and blue for the Seattle Seahawks.

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At Kobey’s Swap Meet, Chantal wears an accidental inch plant hat.

8. Go reusable!

Bit by bit we’ve been snapping up stylish, lightweight dishware whenever we see them on clearance, including some 6-inch-by-6-inch appetizer plates we found for 99 cents on clearance at CB2.com. Sure, your dishwasher will get a workout, but it beats a mountain of discarded plastic. You could also rent dinnerware from a party supply store.

9. Make an outdoor room

Did you know that, with some stylish scaffolding, your washing machine could double as a bar top, and twelve cinder blocks and couple of 2 x 4 x 8′s (grand total: $20) could seat six people? Get creative with some DIY furniture that could serve as a temporary fix or a lasting, weatherproof installation.

Plus, it will remind you of that time you threw the best Super Bowl party ever!

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10. Present a spirited dessert

If you want to munch on your team colors without the scary laboratory dyes, you can make your own natural food coloring using red cabbage for blue (that’s right, for blue), organic liquid chlorophyll for green, and carrot juice for orange. (You can find Bonzai Aphrodite’s excellent guide to making them here.) For game day, we will be dyeing homemade icing for cupcakes — so guests can savor their team spirit while also devouring the competition.

11. Heat it up!

Okay, Northeasterners, this isn’t exactly MetLife Stadium, but we’ll admit that our garden gathering will need some heat. (During the second half, anyways.) There are plenty of options out there for patio heaters — or you could make your own.

Because why not keep things toasty while serving up some cold ones?

—TH

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Our robot heater (left) is a modified version of the three-burner propane tank top heater (middle). Another option  is the classic freestanding patio heater (right).

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This classic Weber charcoal grill and Preway fireplace are also sure to put out some heat!

 

  • http://www.gardendesign.com/ Jim Peterson

    Fantastic tips Ryan! Really like the chalkboard paint idea.

    • http://thehorticult.com/ The Horticult

      Thanks, Jim! It’s been incredibly versatile.