garden cinema

How to Create a Home Cinema in Your Own Back Garden This Summer

Tuesday 25th Jun 2024 |

Are you dreaming of creating your own outdoor cinema in the comfort of your own back garden?

Whether you’re looking to watch the latest blockbusters or stream the Euros on the big screen, there are many ideas to fit every budget, helping you to create your own cinema extravaganza right outside your back door.

Below, garden design expert, Oliver Johnson at has created this guide, helping you to learn everything you need to know to achieve this cinematic dream. With the help of these garden cinema ideas, you can enjoy watching whatever your heart desires with an open-air movie experience that you are your friends can enjoy time and time again. Take a look at Oliver’s ideas below.

Choose The Right Location

First things first, pick the perfect spot in your garden. Ideally, it should be a flat, grassy area with minimal obstructions. Avoid the shade of trees or structures that might block the screen, and consider the sun’s position, too – you don’t want the setting sun glaring directly at the screen, washing out the picture. 

If your garden has multiple suitable areas, think about how close you want your guests to be seated and choose accordingly. A larger space allows for more flexibility in seating arrangements, while a cosier spot can create a more intimate atmosphere.

Choosing Seating on a Budget

For a cost-effective option, gather comfy blankets, throws, and cushions to create a relaxed seating area. Deckchairs or folding chairs can also work well, offering a bit more back support. If you have a patio, consider using outdoor furniture you already own. 

For a touch of luxury on a budget, look out for second-hand garden beanbags – perfect for sinking into for a long movie night. Think about adding a touch of personalisation – Scatter colourful cushions or throws in a theme that matches the movie you’re planning to watch, or create a DIY bunting banner to add a festive touch.

garden cinema

Add a Touch of Ambience

Fairy lights strung around the perimeter or lanterns placed strategically can create a magical atmosphere. Opt for battery-powered options for easy setup and a relaxed feel. Solar-powered lights are another great option, as they’ll charge throughout the day and automatically come on as dusk falls. 

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, consider hanging strings of festoon lights for a touch of vintage charm. For an extra touch of ambience, light some citronella candles around the seating area – they’ll not only keep bugs at bay but also add a warm glow to the setting.

Create The Perfect Big Screen

Once you’ve chosen your selected area and created the perfect ambience, it’s time to get your big screen set up. There are several options for creating your home cinema in the garden. Take a look at some of the best options below.

Sheet Simplicity

This is the classic choice – and perfect for those on a tight budget. Hang a white sheet between a washing line, fence posts, or even the side of your house. Secure it with pegs or weighted objects at the bottom to keep it taut. For a more polished look, iron out any wrinkles beforehand. Project onto the back of the sheet for the best picture quality.

Projector Power

Projectors are readily available online or in electronics stores. Look for one with a decent lumen rating (a measure of brightness) suitable for outdoor use. If you plan on using your home cinema most evenings, consider a higher lumen rating to combat twilight. For a truly cinematic experience, opt for a projector with a wide aspect ratio (like 16:9) to match most modern films.

Budget-Friendly Projector Screen

For a more polished look without breaking the bank, consider purchasing a portable projector screen. These are often lightweight and come with stands or foldable frames for easy setup. They’re perfect for smaller gardens or if you want a more flexible screen location. Many portable screens are double-sided, allowing you to project onto either side depending on the lighting conditions.

DIY Projector Screen

Feeling crafty? You can create your own screen using a wooden frame covered with fabric, or even a special projector screen paint applied to a sheet of plywood. This can be a great option if you have a specific size in mind or want a more permanent fixture in your garden. If you go the DIY route, make sure the frame is sturdy enough to withstand light winds and ensure the fabric is taut to avoid wrinkles that could distort the picture.

The Sound Setup

Next, you will need to think about how you will hear the sound of the movie. Again, there are several options that can work. Take a look at some ideas below and consider which would be best for your garden.

Wireless Setup

Invest in a portable Bluetooth speaker for a simple audio solution. Connect it to your phone, laptop, or tablet to play the movie soundtrack. Look for a speaker with a good battery life and decent sound quality for the best experience. Consider pairing two wireless speakers for a more immersive surround sound effect.

Wired Sound

If you have a decent sound system at home, you might be able to extend the speakers to your garden patio using long speaker cables (ensure they’re weatherproof!). This is a great option if you have a powerful sound system and want a truly cinematic experience. However, be mindful of disturbing neighbours late at night – opt for earlier movie nights or keep the volume at a reasonable level.

Headphone Heaven

For a quieter option, especially if you have neighbours nearby, consider providing wireless headphones for your guests. This can also be a good solution if you have a smaller projector with lower sound output.

Movie Magic on a Budget

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to enjoy movies, you may wish to consider some of the following.

  • Streaming Services: Take advantage of your existing streaming service subscriptions! Many offer a vast library of films to choose from, from classic comedies to the latest blockbusters.
  • DVD Classics: Dust off your old DVD collection – there are bound to be hidden gems waiting to be rediscovered on a summer night. Consider having a themed movie night and digging out all your favourite rom-coms or childhood films.
  • Borrowing Power: Check with friends and family – they might be happy to lend you a projector or a movie they no longer need. 

Add The Finishing Touches

There are several finishing touches that you can add to your setup to make it even more special. Take a look at the ideas below.

  • Snacks & Drinks: No cinema experience is complete without treats! Set up a small table with popcorn, snacks, and drinks for guests to enjoy throughout the movie. Consider offering a variety of sweet and savoury options, along with a range of drinks, including non-alcoholic drinks and perhaps even a pitcher of Pimms for a summery touch.
  • Bug Control: Citronella candles or insect-repellent wipes can help keep pesky bugs at bay, ensuring a more comfortable movie night. Citronella plants dotted around the seating area can also be a natural deterrent.
  • Weather Watch: Keep an eye on the forecast! If rain is likely, postpone your movie night or be prepared to move the setup indoors, if possible.

Final Thoughts

With a little planning and these handy tips, you can transform your garden into a delightful open-air cinema this summer. So grab your popcorn, cosy up under the stars, and enjoy a truly unique movie experience in the comfort of your own back garden!

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