Types of garden furniture you need most
Gardens are a brilliant place to relax, destress and enjoy the weather along with some good company. If you are looking at your garden space and thinking about buying some furniture for it, there are a lot of options to consider nowadays.
Whether you want a luxury rattan sofa or a smaller, more intimate bistro table and just a couple of chairs, it’s essential to pick something that matches your personality and delivers a space you can use again and again.
There are some amazing brands out there today and garden furniture has changed immensely over the last couple of decades. Many of these are focused on sustainable manufacture and creating luxury designs that help your garden stand out.
Here we look at the different types of garden furniture and the materials they are made from as well as how to make the best choices for your garden.
5 Reasons for buying garden furniture in the first place
The best time to start thinking about new garden furniture is the months leading up to spring and summer. There are several reasons why you should consider transforming this important area of your home right now:
- Add style to your garden: We often spend more time planting and weeding the garden than designing a space where we can sit and appreciate it all. Garden furniture creates a focal point in your garden and delivers style and elegance to compliment all those summer blooms.
- Have somewhere to go and chill: If you’ve been rushing outside during the summer and dragging the kitchen chair with you, it’s time to change everything. Garden furniture gives you an excuse to take your coffee, beer or wine outside, settle down and chill out. In a world where everything is increasingly technology-focused, getting some me-time in the garden is essential for good health.
- Entertain friends and family outdoors: If you plan to hold garden parties or you want a new, exciting place for your family to get together on special occasions, there’s nothing better than a garden dining or lounge set. Combine it with a barbecue and you’ve got the perfect location for entertaining.
- Maximum comfort: Invest in a quality garden recliner or lounge set and you have all the comfort you need outside of your home. Why sit and read your book on an uncomfortable dining chair when you can have a super cosy recliner and a table nearby with your wine glass on it.
- Create a versatile space: The range of different options for garden furniture means you can design your space just how you want it to be. You can move furniture around and change that design to meet your needs and add different features as you go along.
Garden furniture materials
It doesn’t matter if you are buying a garden table, a lounger or a small bistro set, the type of material that your garden furniture is made from is important. It will not only define the look of your space and its appeal to you, it will also dictate how robust the furniture is and how long it is likely to last.
We all have our preferences, not just in colour and shape but materials as well. There are few options here, the most popular being metal, rattan, wood and plastic.
One of the most popular garden furniture materials is metal and this comes in a few different forms. You’ll find metal chairs and tables that are wrapped in protective plastic, wrought iron furniture that is painted with enamel and lighter but highly durable aluminium products.
Metal is design=friendly and elegant, and, if you look after it properly, it lasts a long time. All you need to do is wipe metal furniture down occasionally and check if there is any rust forming which needs to be treated with a paint-over.
One thing to consider, in locations that are close to the sea, you may find that there are additional rust problems because of the salt in the air.
One of the other downsides of metal furniture, especially products made out of wrought iron, is that it is quite heavy. This can be something of a problem if you want to move it around. However, aluminium garden furniture is becoming increasingly popular and is lightweight as well as durable.
Overall, however, metal is a popular choice for the base of garden furniture, whether it’s combined with glass for tabletops or cushions for chairs and sofas. It’s very strong and, with good care, is likely to last decades.
Wood is a more traditional garden furniture material and there is certainly something aesthetically pleasing about it. As long as the wood is treated and cared for, it’s also very durable and can even look better once it has weathered a little and starts to look less new.
The ideal wood for outdoor furniture is teak, which is especially hardy and a popular choice for homeowners. Cedar and oak are also suitable choices. Most modern wood garden furniture comes with a preservative coat on top to protect it against the elements but this may have to be replenished at regular intervals.
The upside of wood furniture for your garden is that it’s natural and authentic. If you care for it properly, it can last more than a decade and it is available in a range of different styles.
It does, however, require more regular maintenance if you want to keep it in tip-top condition and some products should realistically be covered over the winter months. If you want something that you can use all year round, the wood choice can be particularly important.
One of the big advantages of rattan furniture is that it looks very attractive and suits almost any environment. It’s risen in popularity again over the last decade or so, mostly because there are so many new designs out there. It’s considered more eco-friendly than some other furniture options.
Ratan is made from weaving canes or reeds to create the base for furniture and it’s a manufacturing process that has been practised for thousands of years.
As a natural material, it is durable and tough and stays cool even on hot days. It can suffer from mildew if not maintained properly but this is easily resolved by cleaning with a detergent and vinegar mix and you can expect a well looked after sofa or chair to last a good few years.
One of the downsides of rattan furniture is quality which can vary depending on the supplier you choose. You need to invest in a good product as less superior ones can start to unravel because they haven’t been weaved properly. That said, if you choose the right chair or sofa it can certainly transform your garden space.
Plastic garden furniture is often considered the cheap and cheerful cousin of the other three types of material but that’s not always the case. Moulded plastic can be produced in a variety of shapes and thicknesses and it’s very easy to maintain and keep clean.
- If it’s left in the hot sun, thinner plastic can become warped and change shape which means you need to be careful where you place it.
- The trouble is this type of garden furniture is often mass-produced so if you are searching for something a little different, it may not be the best choice.
- If you are operating on a tight budget and want something basic and functional, however, it ticks all the boxes.
Types of garden furniture
You may want a mix of different types of material in your garden. For example, it might be nice to have an aluminium table and rattan chairs. Or you could want to combine wood and wrought iron. Within that, you can add ceramic or glass table tops for a little more sophistication.
The good news is that you can mix and match to get the design that you want. If you prefer matching items perfectly, however, there are plenty of garden furniture sets to choose from.
Most types of outdoor furniture are available in a range of different materials so the choice is pretty varied. That can make getting the right setup for your garden can be a little challenging. We advise you to take your time and look at all the possibilities.
The type of garden furniture you find in showrooms and online include:
Garden dining sets
There’s nothing better on a summer evening than sitting out to dine with friends and family. It’s relaxing, entertaining and good for the health in many different ways. Food just seems to taste better when we’re outdoors.
The dining table itself is probably the most important purchase here as this forms the centrepiece for your entertaining. A lot will depend on the amount of space you have and how you want to use it most effectively. If you have a small garden, you might like a small bistro table with a couple of chairs, four at most.
Tables tops come in a range of materials including glass, ceramic and even slate. This can make a big difference to the dining experience and deliver a level of luxury that makes eating out a pleasure. These not only look fantastic, but they’re also very easy to clean.
Larger tables can accommodate more diners. Our largest dinner set at gardenfurniture.co.uk seats 16 people. Others seat between 8 and 12 people. They’re perfect for large patios or open locations with a stone floor.
A lot depends on how often you are going to use your dining set and how many people it’s for. If you regularly entertain or have a large family, it’s a great investment. If there are just two of you in a household, you might want to consider a round table with just four seats.
Dining sets are often larger than a lot of other garden furniture so you need to take into account storage. You might, for instance, want to consider a dining table and chairs that can be used inside and out. This works particularly well if you have a dining room next to the garden with bi-fold doors. Rattan is a good option for this as it looks amazing in both locations, while metal, particularly wrought iron can damage indoor flooring and is heavy to move.
Garden lounge and recliner sets
Lounge sets are different from dining sets in that they are more for kicking back and enjoying the sun. They can be used for eating outside but they have much more of a party feel if you like. For homeowners who prefer informal entertaining, then these are a perfect choice.
Lounge sets usually consist of several comfortable chairs or a sofa and a central, small table similar to a coffee table. You can get corner units that easily seat five people comfortably as well as individual loungers that can be moved around more easily.
You can find a garden lounge set to fit almost any size garden and they add a great deal of style and panache. Some come with a central table while others have table shelves attached to the furniture.
Reclining loungers give you a few more options. These have a back that reclines giving you extra comfort if you want to just close your eyes and catch some rays. Sofas can also have one or two reclining seats incorporated into their designs.
As with garden dining sets, it’s important to measure your area first to make sure everything will fit. That means the width as well as the length. Many people have bought garden lounge sets online only to find that they took up far too much space once they arrived.
Furniture sets for small gardens
Small gardens can be a bit of a challenge for homeowners when it comes to furniture. The excellent news is that there are still plenty of options here. Think about what you need and how you would like to use your space and then search for solutions online.
Our catalogue at gardenfurniture.co.uk includes an excellent range of stylish outdoor sets that fit perfectly into smaller gardens.
You may be content with a small round table in wrought iron with a parasol and a couple of comfortable chairs. Or maybe you want a set of luxury loungers that you can recline on while you read a favourite book or listen to music.
There is a range of bistro and balcony sets to choose from. These have the added advantage in that they can be easily moved and stored away if you need to have more space in your garden.
Garden tables and benches
These are great if you want something for multiple activities. More people can be squeezed onto benches and you can use it for dining as well as kids playtime or even a game of chess or two with a friend.
These are similar to the tables and benches that you find in parks and pub beer gardens around the UK and are pretty low cost, low maintenance while still being useful and attractive. If you’re on a budget and are looking for value, this is one option to consider.
Outdoor furniture is generally treated in a way that makes it more resistant to the elements. All-weather furniture, however, takes this to a slightly higher level.
This is important if you want your garden set to last the distance and be durable over a longer period. Some manufacturers offer guarantees, for example, for how long their wrought iron tables or wood furniture will last before showing signs of wear.
- It’s also essential to look at how your maintenance and care can increase the longevity of your garden furniture.
- All-weather furniture is a very good idea if you don’t have much storage space as you don’t have to put everything away.
Mix and match vs garden furniture range
The benefits of selecting from a range are that your furniture is fully co-ordinated and each component has been designed by a whole team to fit together. It means you don’t have to worry about finding something that matches.
Some of the premier brands that we stock at gardenfurniture.co.uk have spent years developing luxury ranges where each part perfectly complements the other.
On the other hand, some people prefer looking for different styles and making their own choices. You may have, for instance, a rattan lounger with an aluminium bistro table. You might prefer sofa seating with a buffet-style long table that people can snack from if you regularly entertain or love holding the odd barbecue but want more space.
Extra essentials for your garden furniture
Once you’ve got your major pieces of garden furniture in place, you can begin looking at those value-added extras that make such a difference. There are a few things to consider to make this a truly unique place you’ll want to visit again and again.
Some furniture sets come with ready-made parasols, others need them adding. A parasol is useful if your space is in the full glare of the sun and you want some extra protection. Hot days can be unbearable if you can’t find a bit of shade just when you need it.
A decent parasol can also give you a good amount of privacy from nosy neighbours if you live in a built-up area.
Parasols come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to look more closely at your garden space before you buy. The last thing you want is to try and open your parasol for the first time and find that it hitches up against a nearby tree or building.
Also, think about how breezy it can get in your garden which means your umbrella needs a weighty and secure base.
Maintenance for most garden furniture involves taking a few precautions depending on what it is made out of. One thing you might want to invest in, outside of this, is furniture covers.
- Some high-end garden sets come with a cover but sometimes you have to buy if you want to protect your furniture during the winter.
- A good cover can mean you don’t have to store your furniture away in the summer to protect it from the rain.
- Sofa and lounge sets will benefit from good quality covers and they are more than worth the additional expense to lengthen the life of your furniture.
Perhaps you want to be less chilly at night or you want to use your garden furniture during the winter. Investing in some outdoor heating is a good idea. There are a variety of different products that you can get nowadays but the electrical heaters are the most energy-efficient.
These not only heat the surrounding garden but add a warm, atmospheric glow to the evening. They can be used if you want to have a winter party and they are easily stored away until you need them. Check out our range of electrical heating for gardens.
Another option, if you have a decent-sized garden, is to install a fire pit. Not only does this bring comfort and warmth on a chilly night but it also looks spectacular. This can be a great centrepiece for any social gathering whether it’s using natural wood to burn or is fired by a gas supply.
What you can also add for your evening soirees is some lighting. This is pretty easy to do nowadays and there are plenty of options. You can install string lights to add some fun to the garden or individual lights that can either be powered by battery or via the mains. This is a great way to add personality and to encourage family members to use your garden more often.
Top Tips for Choosing Your Garden Furniture
- Always try to take a look at your garden furniture in person before you buy. This isn’t always possible if you are buying online so look at what the store returns policy is. For example, at gardenfurniture.co.uk, we offer a 30-day returns guarantee if you are not completely satisfied. We also have a showroom where you can view over 40 different garden furniture sets.
- Plan your garden space as you would any other part of your home. It’s easy to overestimate size when it comes to choosing furniture. Make sure you measure it and know how everything is going to fit. Also, research the types of garden furniture available and think a little outside the box when it comes to your choices.
- Consider different materials such as lightweight aluminium, rattan and wood, each of which has its pros and cons. Find which matches your aesthetic and your garden. You may want to stick to one type of material for consistency or combine different ones.
- Sit outside and take in the view. We never quite know what we are going to be facing once the garden furniture is installed. This is particularly important if you have a small or medium size garden. Grab a chair from the dining room and sit in different parts of your gardens. What’s the view like? Does one location work better than another? Would you be happy here?
- Go for quality if you can. You may have a set budget but it’s essential to try and get the best quality your money can buy. Cost savings are a good idea but they can often be a false economy. Quality garden furniture is likely to last longer and be more comfortable. Buying garden furniture at different times of the year, such as during the winter, can also deliver cost savings.
- Don’t be afraid to dream: The range of garden furniture sets and options out there today means that you can create the space you always wanted. You don’t need to be constrained and a luxury feel that is both stylish and functional is well within your reach.