It doesn’t matter how big or small your outdoor space is, you can transform it into an outdoor room with the right garden furniture.
Small patio, balcony or side return : Look for compact bistro sets, slimline outdoor furniture and items that can be folded away.
Medium-sized patio or wooden deck : Consider a round table and chairs set or an extending dining table for when you have friends and family around.
Large patio or paved area : Think about creating different areas in your garden : perhaps a large table and chairs set in an ‘eating area’ then an outdoor sofa, sunbeds or even a hammock in a ‘lounging area’.
Outdoor garden furniture comes in a variety of styles, colours and materials, from purse-friendly plastic to durable solid wood. Each has its own benefits:
Pros: Long-lasting, comfortable, traditional look that blends into your garden and doesn’t get as hot in sunny weather as other materials. Wooden furniture is made to endure all types of weather, is easy to clean with simple soap and water, and is stable in windy conditions. Hardwoods, such as teak, have increased durability because of high oil content. Where possible we sell responsibly sourced wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) look for the logo on products and packaging.
Cons: Wooden furniture will require regular treatment to keep it in tip-top condition if leaving outdoors all year around.
Pros: Low-maintenance, long-lasting, made either from lightweight aluminium or heavy wrought iron, Metal garden furniture can endure in all weathers, and come in lots of contemporary colours and styles for a classic or contemporary look.
Cons: Aluminium furniture can bend or dent if not handled carefully and can blow away in storms as it is lighter than wooden or wrought iron, so you may need to store it away over the winter. Wrought iron can rust over time, so look for designs that are powder-coated and/or rust-retardant. You’ll need to use cushions for comfort.
Pros: Durable, lightweight and easy to move, comfortable for lounging, rattan-effect furniture provides a natural look and the open-weave design won’t unravel or fray. It looks good indoors in a conservatory as well as outdoors.
Cons: Colour can fade in direct sunlight and it needs to be put away in the winter. Rattan-effect furniture can also be bulky and take up more space in your garden.
Pros: Great value, comes in lots of different colours, is low maintenance, easy to clean and lightweight, so can be stacked or moved around easily.
Cons: While being lightweight is a good thing when moving plastic furniture around, it also means it can be blown around if windy. It also can get very hot in direct sunlight and may crack if it warms up and cools down too often.
Wooden furniture should be treated as soon as you buy it to increase its lifespan. Hardwoods, such as teak and acacia, are rich in natural oils, which prevent water getting into the wood. However, if you want stop the colour of your hardwood furniture fading, you should treat it with a protective stain or oil. Softwoods, including pine and cedar, must be regularly protected from UV rays, which can weather them, and water, which can split them.
Choose oil to nourish your wooden furniture if you want a more natural finish and don’t mind re-applying the oil every six months to a year. Stains provide a deeper colour and opaque finish to your wooden furniture that will change the natural appearance of your wood but you won’t have to re-apply them as often. They give a greater level of protection than oil and some stains only need to be re-applied every three years.
Metal aluminium furniture is low maintenance because it doesn't rust. Consider a powder-coated range, which is weatherproof and scratch-resistant. Clean with warm soapy water if needed.
Look for designs that have been powder-coated to protect against rust. You can also treat with an anti-rust solution.
Wipe with a damp cloth. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or pressure washers. Keep out of direct sunlight to avoid fading and store away over winter.
If you have one, use a pressure hose or pressure washer to get rid of stubborn dirt on plastic garden furniture. A leaf blower will quickly clear fallen debris. Wipe plastic garden furniture with a damp cloth before use.
Once you've bought your outdoor garden furniture, a few accessories will complete the look:
Parasols/garden umbrellas : Parasols/garden umbrellas are ideal for creating instant shade in a sunny spot, and keeping your food and guests cool. Can be bought separately or as part of your garden set. If your table doesn't have a hole in the centre, look for a freestanding cantilever parasol with its own base.
Lighting : Whether it's twinkling tealights in lanterns or solar-powered marker lights, the right lighting will create ambience and allow you to use your garden into the evenings.
Cushions : Get comfy and add a splash of colour or pattern with some removable chair cushions.
Covers : If you don't have a shed or garage to store your garden furniture in, it's well worth buying a waterproof cover to protect it from the winter elements. Choose a cover designed for the size of furniture you have for maximum protection and a snug fit.