Garden Design

How to choose the best outdoor furniture for your garden

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Would you like to update your outdoor furniture?

Whether you use your garden as a place to relax, entertain, or spend time with the kids, chances are you’ll get lots of use from some outdoor furniture.  There’s a huge range of garden furniture to choose from, and this is often a long-term investment, so naturally you’ll want to get it right first time.

Choosing the best outdoor furniture for your garden

If you’d like some help with choosing new outdoor furniture, you’re in the right place. Read on for a guide to the areas you need to consider before making a final choice.


What’s the purpose?

When buying outdoor furniture – as with any furniture – the first thing you need to be really clear on is how you’re going to use it.  This sounds pretty obvious, but you can use your garden in lots of different ways, and each of these will be suited to a particular type of furniture.

Here are some useful questions to ask yourself before you start shopping:

  • What do you spend most time in the garden doing?  Is it sitting with a cuppa, soaking up the sun, entertaining friends and family, or keeping the kids busy?  This will determine whether you need relaxed, informal outdoor seating, a more formal outdoor dining setup, or occasional pieces such as a garden bench, lawn chairs or swing chair.
  • How many people would you like to seat?
  • Who will be using the furniture?  For example, if you have children you probably want to avoid sharp corners and are keen on easy-clean cushion covers.

Do bear in mind that some garden furniture is cleverly designed to suit more than one purpose.  This is ideal if you have a small garden, or want to keep your furniture as multifunctional as possible.  To make your garden furniture really earn its space, look for tables that adjust to different heights, sofas with hidden storage, patio chairs that recline, and tables with built-in features such as drinks coolers or fire pits.


The right style of outdoor furniture for you

If you were buying furniture for inside your home, you would automatically try to find something that suits your interior style.  The same approach is just as valid when choosing outdoor furniture.

Think about the style of your home and your garden, and what type of furniture will work well in it.  A modern home is well-suited to outdoor furniture with clean lines and more contemporary materials, while an older property or traditional garden works well with ornate patio furniture and classic materials.

You can of course break the rules, and go for garden furniture that contrasts with your home’s style.  This is a bold approach, but when it’s done well it can really make an impact.


How much space do you have?

It’s vital to consider the amount of space you’re willing to dedicate to your outdoor furniture.  Buy something too big and it will overpower your garden and make it feel cramped, while a compact set will look lost in a large garden.

Take a good look at your outdoor space, and work out the dimensions available for furniture.  You can mark these out using chalk or sheets of paper to help you get a feel for how things will look.  A good rule of thumb is to keep around a third of the patio area clear to create a good balance.

Once you have your measurements, make sure you stick to them. It’s easy to get carried away with those lovely big displays in the store!


What materials?

When it comes to buying outdoor furniture, you have a range of materials to choose from.

Hardwood furniture is a popular choice, because it’s durable, low-maintenance and looks really stylish.  If you like a more natural look in the garden, wooden outdoor furniture is the way to go.  Hardwood outdoor furniture needs to be treated with oil or preservative to keep it looking good, but if you take care of it you can expect many years of use.

Metal garden furniture will also last for years if you look after it.  It works particularly well on 2 seater garden furniture sets, allowing you to recreate a pavement café feel in the garden.  Metal furniture is ideal for contemporary garden styles too.

Plastic outdoor furniture is usually the cheapest option, but that doesn’t mean you automatically compromise on looks.  It’s great for adding colour and a modern feel to a garden. Plastic furniture is also pretty much zero maintenance, and will just need a wash down every now and then. Many rattan garden furniture sets are now made from plastic to improve lifespan and reduce maintenance.


Think about weather conditions

It’s a very good idea to think about the weather conditions in your garden before making a final choice on materials for your outdoor furniture.  A very exposed location will weather and fade your furniture more quickly than a sheltered spot, while a damp, shady corner will make furniture more prone to mildew and rust.  If you live near the coast salty air can cause metal furniture to rust, and if it’s often windy in your garden you should avoid lightweight furniture that can blow over easily.

In the UK, rain is very much a regular feature, so consider also how waterproof you would like your outdoor furniture to be.  Do you mind bringing cushions inside on rainy days?  Would you like your furniture to be easy to dry?  Be honest about these practicalities, and try to find a product that suits your particular preferences.


Setting a budget for outdoor furniture

As with any major household purchase, you should aim to set a budget before you start browsing outdoor furniture.

If you’d like your garden furniture to stand the test of time, it’s worth spending as much as you can.  Doing so will deliver value for money in the long run, and will also help you to avoid unnecessary waste and make your garden more eco-friendly.

Once you’ve set your budget, try to stick to it.  If you know you struggle to do this, set your budget a little lower than you can actually afford.  This simple trick allows you to go a little higher without actually spending more than you originally intended!

Hopefully this guide to choosing garden furniture helps you to find the perfect option for your garden size, style and budget.  Do you have a tip for choosing the best outdoor furniture to share?

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