Learn How to Use Bamboo to Elevate Your Backyard's Most Important Entertaining Areas

palapa-style raffia umbrella and rattan lounger
Dana Gallagher

To set a chic and summery outdoor scene, bring in some bamboo—there's nothing it can't make better, more beautiful, and, well, beachier. Both natural and sustainable, it gives a bohemian vibe to furniture, a casual flair to tableware, and a transportive effect to lighting. You can put the versatile reed—and its cousin, rattan—to use all season, and escape in your own backyard.

A great place to begin? Start by upgrading your shade. A palapa-style raffia umbrella whispers "Chillax." To make it totally tropical, slip the pole into a hollow stem of bamboo (available at garden centers) before staking out a spot. This rattan lounger is resort-worthy, too: It lets you recline while dangling your feet in the water (or stretching them out on the grass), then folds up flat.

Ahead, discover more ways to use this multi-purpose and impactful medium, which can help you erect a DIY cabana (along with a few zip ties and a canvas tarp, that is), make a statement on a tabletop (consider rattan or woven trays, wrapped glassware, or bamboo-handled cutlery), or elevate a daybed (just wait until you see how we styled ours). Arguably the best part of all? This reed works across a vast majority of décor styles, which means you can introduce its earthy, grounding vibe into your backyard, whatever its overarching aesthetic.

Shop Now: Bayside-21 Hula Thatched Tiki Umbrella, 8', in Natural (similar to shown), $109, amazon.com; Resol Rattan "The Resol Lounger" Beach Chair, $225, resolbeach.com; Intiearth Playa Basket in Medium (far right), $86, intiearth.com.

01 of 05

Serve in Style

woven rattan tray with bamboo plates
Dana Gallagher

A rattan tray inspired by woven goods from the Philippines offers a hydration station, and then some: Just fill a seagrass-wrapped carafe with citrusy water and set out nibbles to keep your crew satiated between dips in the pool. Acrylic tumblers and (compostable) bamboo plates let you clink and snack safely.

Shop Now: Crate & Barrel "Artesia" Natural Round Rattan Tray with Handles, $50, crateandbarrel.com. Bamboo Veneerware Round Bamboo Plates (similar to shown), from $9 for eight, bambuhome.com; Canvas Home Vilnius Linen Napkins in White, $97 for four, canvashomestore.co.uk; McGee & Co. "Samos" Seagrass-and-Glass Pitcher (similar to shown), $28, mcgeeandco.com; West Elm "Verdana" Outdoor Glassware (similar to shown), $48 for six, westelm.com.

02 of 05

Raise Some Canes

bamboo pop-up pool cabana with daybed
Dana Gallagher

Nothing sounds nicer to us than swimming over to this pop-up pool cabana, but it'll transform any outdoor setting—and provide shade. The walls are X-shaped bamboo supports; the top is a textbook lattice. No tools or construction skills are required; just zip-tie the poles together where they intersect, and wrap the joints with rope for a rustic finish. Knot canvas tarps into place, then kit it out. The daybed has performance-fabric cushions, so damp swimsuits won't dampen their outlook.

Shop Now: Serena & Lily "Avalon" Daybed, $1,398 serenaandlily.com; Serena & Lily Mattress and Bolsters, from $998, serenaandlily.com; Maison de Vacances Stonewashed-Linen Pillows, from $200 each, clic.com; Ceylon Prides Wicker Floor Lamp (hanging in cabana), from $114, ceylonprides.etsy.com; CB2 "Keelah" Natural-Rattan Hurricane (on ground, to left of daybed), $50, cb2.com; Anthropologie "Annisa" Planter (far right), $98, anthropologie.com; IKEA "Nilsove" Armchair (far left) in Rattan/White, $89, ikea.com; Urban Outfitters Caroline Rattan Stool (to right of daybed), $129, urbanoutfitters.com.

03 of 05

Settee the Mood

rattan daybed on plant-filled patio
Dana Gallagher

A rattan daybed is so striking, the rest of your space will be a breeze to furnish. This patio has a roof, but yours doesn't have to—outdoor-fabric cushions deflect a drizzle, and the frame is light enough to move inside in a downpour. For extra atmosphere, surround it with lush plants, and prop a few fresh-cut bamboo stalks (plentiful at garden centers) against the walls to get that summery rustle in the wind. When they dry, snip the branches into a silvery arrangement for inside.

Shop Now: Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen MDD Nest 2-Seater Outdoor Sofa in Natural, $3,565, cane-line.us; Jao Social Club French Bed-Roll in Autumn Colors Safran, $212, jaosocialclub.com. Ecovibe Woven-Rattan Pedestals with Metal Feet in Small, $45, and Large, $55, ecovibestyle.com.

04 of 05

Lift Up Lunch

bamboo flatware and plates with stone paperweight
Dana Gallagher

Bamboo's your best friend for cool, casual dining outdoors. Smooth, dishwasher-safe plates made from the plant are an eco-alternative to plastic; pair them with knobby flatware and cane-wrapped stone paper-weights for anchoring napkins. A rattan plant stand puts sliced melon on a pedestal. Add a base of pastel linens, and pull up a chair.

Shop Now: Betsy Bauer Studio Bamboo-Wrapped Rock, in Random Weave, $78, bloomist.com. West Elm Mini Check Napkin, $40 for four, westelm.com; West Elm Cotton-Canvas Place Mat in Rose, $20 for two, westelm.com; Fable Colorful Bamboo Plates in Blush (similar to shown), $48 for four, food52.com; Pottery Barn Natural Bamboo Flatware, $60 for a five-piece set, potterybarn.com.

05 of 05

Light the Night

bamboo lanterns surrounding outdoor diy table
Dana Gallagher

And set the stage for a dreamy midsummer night's dinner. We put LED votives inside bamboo lanterns, then hung them from branches with garden-center string for an entrancing firefly glow. Another one at the base of a tree shines the way to the table, which is actually a reclaimed wooden door from Etsy laid across two DIY bamboo sawhorses.

Shop Now: Serena & Lily "Rutherford" Bamboo Lanterns, $248 each, serenaandlily.com; HK Living Rattan Benches, $279 each, hklivingusa.com; HK Living Rattan Dining Chairs in Natural, $279 each, hklivingusa.com; Crate & Barrel Cane-Fiber Tray (on bench), $50, crateandbarrel.com.

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