A very happy Monday, MNN readers, and welcome to the third installment of "The garden party," a special new product-centric weekly series geared toward all of you al fresco entertainers, patio partiers and backyard BBQ'ers out there. The emphasis, as you may have gathered, is on outdoor entertaining paraphernalia that boast one or more of the following eco-friendly attributes: a. handmade b. made from sustainable or recycled materials c. domestically manufactured or d. durable/made-to-last so in that they’ll be used not just this summer but for many more summers to come.

​Planning on throwing a big ol' patriotic dance party in your backyard this Fourth of July? Now that you've got a cocktail in one hand and a grill brush in the other, I figured it would be timely to feature speakers for a little audio accompaniment Neil Diamond, John Mellencamp, Miley Cyrus ... you get the picture  during your al fresco gathering.

For those not interested in investing in a full-on outdoor sound system or installing an outdoor speaker that looks like a tree trunk or German shepherd, below you'll find a few portable, non-electric speakers/amplifiers geared towards iPhone/iPods along with a couple of options powered by rechargeable batteries. I've also included an eye-catching solar option. While my choices may emit a deafening, ground-shaking roar that will really get the party started, they're still ideal for setting up on the patio table for a little 'merica-themed mood music minus the juice-sucking power cord.

​On that note, I've been put in charge of compiling the ultimate — but not too cheesy, not too flag-wavey  USA-themed playlist for a friend's belated Fourth of July party this coming weekend. Following the speaker roundup, you'll find a few of the tunes that I'll be including on my playlist ... thought you may want to add them to your playlist, too, if you just happen to be on the prowl. Do you have any all-time favorite Independence Day tunes aside from the obvious?

Phonophone III @ Science & Sons ($195 CAD)

Pulpop MP3 Speakers @ MollaSpace ($56)

eco-amp @ eco-made ($7.99)

Eco Stereo Speakers @ Merkury Innovations ($14.99)

Jambox by Jawbone and Yves Behar @ A+R Store ($200)

Philips Shoqbox SB7300 Bluetooth Portable Speaker System @ Amazon.com ($169.99)

Etón Ruckus Solar @ Etón ($150 - avilable for preorder)

iHome iDM8 Rechargeable Portable Bluetooth Speaker @ iHome ($59.99)

Koostik Original @ Koostick ($90 - pictured in Walnut)

"Back in the USA" — MC5

 "This Land is Your Land" — Sharon Jones

"French Kissing in the USA" — Debbie Harry

"Living in America" — James Brown

"People Got to Be Free" — The Young Rascals

"Kids in America" — Kim Wilde

"Look Inside America" — Blur

"Philadelphia Freedom" — Elton John

"America" — Kurtis Blow

"The New World" — X

"Only in America" — Jay and the Americans

"California Dreaming" — Bobby Womack

"Hollywood" — Marina and the Diamonds

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

The garden party: Portable speakers
Will Ray Charles and Neil Diamond be making special guest appearances at your backyard Fourth of July blowout this year? Make 'em feel right at home with these