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Depending on where you live in the world, doing an event outdoors vs. indoors can seem like an easy call. Weather, cost, and time to build out an outdoor space can threaten the success of an event, however beautiful environments and the natural air can provide an incredible and unique experience for guests.

Whether you are lucky enough to produce in reliably dry and warm southern California or whether you call the ever-changing northeast your event home, there are considerations you will always have to make when producing outdoors. One of the most important considerations is ground surface (grass, sand, asphalt, brick, dirt, private, public), which has the potential to impact load in, build possibilities, timing, guest experience and budget.

Here are some questions relating to ground surface, which can help you during your site evaluation;

  • Can you drive on it for equipment load in or will you need to build temporary roadways for vehicle or guest access?
  • Can you damage it in any way without a hefty bill? Know what the ramifications are BEFORE signing a contract.
  • Does it accept rain or poor weather conditions well (drainage)? Even if it’s not raining ON your event day, rain can impact your set up as well as the event itself if the ground surface has not drained sufficiently before guests arrive.
  • How much additional time will vendors require to access the event site? They will need to know what vehicles they can bring, where they will unload and how far the unload site is from the even space, as well as on what type of ground surface they will move equipment on.
  • What weight capacity does it have? Engineers will often have to assess pounds per square foot or even inch when assessing feasibility.
  • What is the gradient? Can standard set ups sit well on it or is it too sloped? Tents can be leveled easily, but tables and chairs, not so much.

Most people spend time looking up to evaluate an outdoor space – how much cover there is, however, the real impact is going to be based on looking down –what you are building on.

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