Choosing garden furniture
Cleaning garden furniture
Barbara Roberts of Merry Maids on keeping your garden furniture clean and gorgeous...
- Plastic furniture: "Clean off any stains or marks with a mild detergent and then hose it down. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbing brushes as this can scratch the furniture. For a nice shine, try using your regular furniture polish."
- Painted metal furniture: "Start by cleaning out any dirt from the joints and seams with a soft brush and follow with a gentle detergent and water."
- Awnings, umbrellas & cushions: "To tackle mildew use a non-ammonia soap or dishwashing detergent and if it is a pale or white fabric use a non-chlorine bleach solution to remove mouldy spots and stains. Always rinse and dry thoroughly. Vinyl materials can be cleaned with convertible car hood cleaning products."
Relaxing garden furniture
A fold-out screen will help to create the feeling of an outdoor room on a terrace or patio and will also provide shade from the sun on baking hot days. If you have wooden decking, large square floor cushions and throws can be used to create a cosy area to read or snooze, but for real sun-worshippers, a deckchair or lounger may be more comfortable. Choose from modern gauze fabrics which allow the air to permeate and are easily wiped clean or wooden slatted frames with removable cushions that are washable.
If you have two trees at an appropriate distance from each other, a hammock is perfect for chilling out. If not, don't worry as there are plenty of freestanding hammock designs which are suspended from a metal frame. A pod hanging chair is another great place to relax and also makes for a striking visual feature. Consider investing in a storage bench which will hide away garden games and suntan lotion while providing extra seating.
A simple trickling water feature will create a soothing background noise to help you unwind and, if you are a nature enthusiast, a birdfeeder is brilliant for attracting wildlife.
Garden dining furniture
An outdoor wrought iron shelving unit is useful for storing crockery and cooking ingredients when preparing food. An adjustable parasol that tilts will offer shade wherever the sun is pointing.
When choosing a garden dining table and chairs remember that white and silver reflect so can be uncomfortable to look at in the glaring sun, while black absorbs so can become very hot. A mid-shade of green, grey or any other colour is probably the best solution or alternatively choose furniture in a wood finish. Ask your furniture stockist to advise you on how best to care for the furniture you've chosen, as products will vary depending on the type of wood. Cuprinol Hardwood Garden Furniture Oil, is good for teak and some other woods.
Vinyl covers can protect your furniture from summer showers, but during winter it is better to store your furniture indoors or in a shed as condensation can build up under the cover and cause mould. Fold away chairs are great because you can store them in the shed where they will not get weathered, but sturdier seating may be more comfortable.
Barbecues and outdoor heaters
A gas barbecue is a good investment if you frequently like to dine al fresco as they are quick and easy to use. If this is too great an investment then opt for a permanent charcoal barbecue rather than using disposable one as these don't burn for long and aren't environmentally friendly.
A firepit is a barbecue that doubles as a patio heater and also creates an attractive focal point for an outdoor gathering.
Patio heaters are controversial because of their CO2 emissions, so compare the energy efficiency of different types before making the choice to buy.
If you want to use your garden after dark there are plenty of options for lighting.
Choose from decorative lanterns, garden flares, a set of solar powered lamps or outdoor fairy lights. Many garden stores now sell glass baubles for holding tealights which look beautiful suspended by string from a tree or a parasol.