designing an outdoor movie theaters


Outdoor theaters are the perfect way to entertain your friends and family. You can watch a movie under the stars, enjoy a romantic date with your partner, or host a party for all of your neighbors. But before you enjoy an evening of outdoor entertainment, it is important to make sure you have planned it all out -space, equipment, furnishings, even fire pits. With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can add an outdoor movie theater to your backyard.

With careful planning, your backyard theater can be the perfect place to enjoy movies, sports, and other entertainment with family and friends.

At Landscape Solutions, we’re passionate about creating outdoor spaces that fit your lifestyle. If you live in the Greater Nashville Metropolitan area, contact us online to schedule a consultation about your outdoor movie theater.

Start with a Plan

Planning is the first step to creating a successful backyard theater. It’s also the most important step. Planning will help you avoid mistakes, save money and make sure that your theater is built to last. Professional landscapers, like Landscape Solutions, can help you plan and execute your project from beginning to end, ensuring a smooth, stress-free addition to your outdoor living space.

Permanent, Temporary, or Somewhere In-Between

One of the first things you need to decide is whether you want a separate, permanent structure, if you’d prefer to add it to an existing space, like a covered patio, pergola, or a stand-alone sunroom, or if you want something a bit more temporary, that can be easily taken down when not in use.  

Don’t forget to factor in the kind of weather you may face and the best ways to protect your theater. High winds and rain can be a real challenge, but you can plan for them.

How Much Space?

Consider how much space you need. Will you only use it for family? Perhaps you will include close friends. Maybe you’ll want to invite the entire neighborhood over!

Also, think about sound system needs, lighting, and seating. Will you have furniture pieces that coordinate with your existing outdoor furniture, get piles of beanbag chairs, or simply put blankets on the ground? How much space do they need when not in use?

Choose your location carefully

When you are choosing your location, you will want to choose a spot that’s level, has good drainage, water and electricity access. If you’re building an entirely new space, you’ll need to consider not only if there’s room, but how it will fit into the surrounding area. If you’re not sure where to start, our landscape professionals at Landscape Solutions can help you find the perfect spot for your theater.

Consider your current landscaping

Your outdoor movie theater will be part of your backyard, so you will want to pick a style and location that works with your current landscaping. To avoid disturbing the landscaping too much,, ick a location that works with your current lighting and other features if you can. 

Will You Want a Fire Pit or Fireplace?

A fire pit is a great addition to any backyard. It can add some ambiance and warmth on a chilly night. It can be especially fun for movie night–who wouldn’t love S’mores for movie night? In terms of choosing the right fire pit, there are many things to consider: how big should it be? What materials are best? How far away from the outdoor theater should you place it?

Safety is key when dealing with an open flame, so if you choose to include this in your outdoor theater plans, always remember these basic rules: 

  • Keep children away from any area where there could potentially be hot embers; 
  • don’t use flammable liquids such as lighter fluid;
  • never leave any flame unattended (this includes lighters and matches)
  • Maintain regular cleaning habits, like sweeping up debris around base areas regularly

Protecting Your Space from Pests and Other Problems


If your theater space is not properly protected from insects, you may find yourself dealing with a swarm of unwanted guests. Here are a few tips for keeping insects at bay:

  • Make sure that there is no standing water near your theater. Mosquitoes love to lay their eggs in stagnant water, so eliminating any potential breeding grounds is essential.
  •  Keep an eye out for wasps’ nests and remove them immediately if you spot one. 
  • If your theater will have lawn seating (blankets, lawn chairs, bean bag chairs) or kids running around the area, inspect your yard regularly for fire ant mounds and deal with them as soon as you find them.
  • Use outdoor fly strips or traps to keep the flies to a minimum
  • If your theater is in an open pergola or covered patio, consider mosquito netting to reduce insect instructions.

Other Pests

Your outdoor theater can quickly become overrun by opportunistic pests like rodents, raccoons, and possums (or whatever critters wander in your neck of the woods.). To keep your backyard theater pest-free, there are a few simple steps you can take.

  1. Make sure to keep your yard free of debris. This will give pests fewer places to hide and make it easier for you to spot them if they do show up.
  2. To prevent them from coming around for food, don’t keep trash containers or pet food in your backyard space. If you feed your pets outdoors, be sure to collect their bowls when they’re done.
  3. Protect your screen or projector and sound system by filling in cracks or enclosing them in steel mesh to keep pests from getting to them. You might consider using pest repellents around your theater and seating area to help keep pests away. Always consider children and pets when deciding on your pest control methods.
  4. Inspect the area regularly to ensure that the barriers and other protective measures are still in place and working for you.

Choose Your Equipment

You’ve picked your location, and now it’s time to choose your equipment. You’ll need:

  • Your movie screen
  • Your movie source (DVDs, streaming, etc.)
  • A surround sound system so everyone can hear clearly and easily without straining their ears or being drowned out by noise from nearby conversations or active children..
  • A way to minimize “noise pollution” with regard to your neighbors. 

While we can tell you the things you’ll need to consider in general terms, getting advice from professional audio-visual experts is always a great idea.

Outdoor TV or Projector?

TVs can be great for indoor parties, but outdoors they won’t give you quite the same experience that a projector can. If you’re looking for more flexibility in what type of media, you can play on your screen (movies, sports games), then a projector could be the way to go.

Projectors come in many sizes and shapes, but generally fall into two categories: LCD projectors or DLP projectors. Each has their own advantages when it comes to image quality and price point; however all come with one thing in common: The larger the screen size, the better off everyone will be!

Permanent or Retractable Screen?

The decision of whether to go with a permanent or retractable screen should be based on a number of factors, including cost, ease of installation, and maintenance. A permanent screen is typically more durable and easier to maintain, but a retractable screen offers the convenience of being able to retract it when not in use.

How to Pick the Right Outdoor Speakers

There are two types of outdoor speakers: passive and active. Passive speakers have a built-in amplifier and require no additional power to produce sound, while active speakers require an external amplifier to produce sound. If you’re planning on using a portable speaker system, an active speaker can be a good choice since it’s easier to pack up and take with you when you leave your backyard theater.

If you have questions about choosing the right size or power rating for your outdoor theater system, local electronics stores often have knowledgeable employees who can help you decide. 

Outdoor Seating

When choosing outdoor seating, it’s important to consider the following:

  • The number of guests you’ll normally host. If you want to invite the entire neighborhood over, it may not be practical to buy and store 20, 30, or more patio chairs that coordinate with your patio furniture.
  • Comfort. If you’re going to be in your backyard theater for hours on end, you’ll want comfortable chairs that won’t make your bum sore. 
  • Durability. Outdoor furniture should hold up through all kinds of weather and not break down after just one season!

Bean bag chairs with waterproof covers or picnic blankets that are easily washed and folded away can make great theater “seats”


There may be times or seasons when you want to just pack everything away. Perhaps you’ll only use your theater in the warmer months or you may wish to put everything somewhere secure when you travel. It’s a good idea to think ahead about where you’ll store your outdoor theater equipment and furnishings if you need to.

Outdoor theaters are a great way to entertain family and friends. If you’re in the Nashville area and ready to create a welcoming entertainment area in your outdoor living space, contact us for a consultation today! As seen on HGTV, our landscape architects and installation crew are ready to tackle jobs big and small. Request your consultation  online or call (615) 852-5009 today to schedule an appointment.