Get in the mood for blissful weekends in the summer sunshine and make the most of your outdoor space with a brand new garden furniture set. Start by measuring your outdoor area and deciding what type of furniture will best suit your needs and lifestyle – a bistro two-seater table and chairs is perfect for romantic alfresco dining on a city balcony, whereas a large sofa set is a good choice for a sociable family household.
If you’re going to be using your space primarily for mealtimes, consider picking up several additional folding chairs to have on hand for when extra guests pop over.
See our where to buy section for more advice
THE SOURCEBOOK: GARDEN FURNITURE
John Lewis, johnlewis.com
Wyevale Garden Centres, wyevalegardencentres.co.uk
Nicholas Haslam, nicholashaslam.com
Petersham Nurseries, petershamnurseries.com
Cox & Cox, coxandcox.co.uk
Garden Trading, gardentrading.co.uk
Roche Bobois, roche-bobois.com
Marston & Langinger, marstonandlanginger.com
The Conran Shop, conranshop.co.uk
What should I look for when buying outdoor furniture?
Choose garden furniture that will stand the test of time by investing in a high quality product, but remember to care for it properly to make it last. Where possible, aim to try before you buy to ensure the seats are comfy and the finish of the materials is what you’re expecting. Take a look online before purchasing to read reviews, too.
Nothing recharges the batteries like a sunny afternoon spent out-side in the garden. Whether you like to sit and chat, curl up with a good book, or stretch out for a snooze, if you’re on the lookout for a new garden furniture set, here’s what to consider.
Where to position your garden furniture
Think about where you’re going to be using your lounger, dining set or garden sofa. If you like to follow the sun around the garden, choose a lightweight design or folding lounger or chair that’s easy to carry or one on wheels that can be moved without lifting. Sofa-style seating tends to be quite hefty so will need a more permanent set-up, but opting for a modular seating arrangement will give you the flexibility to re-jig the layout if you fancy a change. Make sure you have a firm, level lawn, concrete paving or decking so your furniture won’t tip or sink.
What is the best material for garden furniture?
When it comes to cushions, make sure they’re detachable so you can take them off and store them away overnight or in bad weather, with zip-off covers that are easy to wash. For poolside loungers, avoid cushions altogether and opt for textilene, a stretchy PVC mesh sling that is waterproof and dries off quickly – the surface is springy, making it ultra comfy to lie on.
What is rattan garden furniture?
The new emphasis of furniture and textiles that lend texture to a scheme has precipitated a revival in all forms of weaving, from simple, sculptural baskets to seventies inspired wicker and rattan indoor and outdoor furniture. Rattan furniture is the most popular choice for garden furniture as it is lightweight, easy to clean and will be a timeless addition to any garden space. Look for weather-proof artificial rattan if you plan on leaving your furniture outdoors all-year-round.
What about storage?
Before you buy anything too big and bulky, think about where you’ll store it out of season. Folding loungers take up less shed-space than fixed loungers which can be bulky and awkward to manoeuvre, although they can often be stacked vertically. Modular units are easy to take apart and can be stacked on top of each other in a shed or garage. Hammocks and hanging chairs are bulky but their tubular metal frames can usually be dismantled for easy storage – it’s always worth checking the measurements of oversized pieces first if storage space is limited.
How do you clean outdoor furniture?
Looking after garden furniture need not be hard work. After all, everything is easy when you know how.
– Hardwoods, such as teak and oak, need no annual maintenance but colours will fade and turn silvery grey over time.
– Teak oil actually strips teak of its natural oils and, if applied, you will need to repeat the process every few months.
– Clear wood preservative followed by two coats of Osmo UV Protection Oil Extra will help to retain the original colour of hardwoods.
– Paint softwoods, such as pine, every year or two with wood preservative or a coloured stain, such as Cuprinol Garden Furniture Stain.
– Cover softwood furniture over winter to protect it from harsh weather.
– Clean wooden furniture with soapy water and a sponge of soft brush; rinse well afterwards.
– Use a steel-wool pad dipped in kerosene oil to rub off small rust spots from iron furniture.
– Powder-coated metals will not rust or peel unless the coating is damaged; touch up damaged surfaces with colour-matched car or metal paint, such as Hammerite.
– Clean metal furniture with warm soapy water and a soft sponge and rinse well.
– Cover furniture over winter to extend its life.
Stone and concrete
– Allow stone and rock to weather naturally for the best effects.
– Remove algae and dirt from seat tops with a stiff brush and warm soapy water.
– Bring natural cane furniture indoors over winter as it will quickly deteriorate if left outside all year.
– Living willow replenishes itself with new growth year after year and will not deteriorate but requires annual pruning to keep it in shape.
– UV and weather resistant, synthetic wicker and resin weaves require little annual care.
– Clean synthetic materials with a power hose on a low setting or a non-foaming cleaner, such as Westminster Weave & Texteline Cleaner.
– Covering furniture in winter will help to extend its life.