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The Ultimate Guide to Garden Furniture

Ellie MacsymonsEllie Macsymons · Apr 7, 2022

Looking to re-furnish your garden but don’t know where to start? Our ultimate guide to garden furniture is here to help you find the right pieces for your outdoor space.

The Ultimate Guide to Garden Furniture

We’ve laid out the pros and cons for every type of garden furniture with material, size and style breakdowns included. We’ve even featured expert top tips on how to keep your furniture sets looking newer for longer!

Start outdoor living without spending a fortune and get the most value for money out of your garden furniture.

Discover which garden sofa material is most weather-resistant, which style of dining set will suit your garden the best and which type of lighting you need to stay safe AND stylish. We’ve even included storage advice and gardening tips to help you curate the perfect outdoor space.

Things to Consider

When choosing your garden furniture there are four things you should consider: 

  • Material
  • Size
  • Style
  • Storage 

With pricey purchases such as dining sets, these four factors are essential in your decision making process as they contribute to the lifespan and overall quality of your furniture. 

By taking these four things into account you will find the right pieces for your garden. You’ll also get the most value for money out of your new purchases!

Dining Sets

Dining sets are the backbone of your outdoor living experience. They’re the place where family and friends can gather to make memories and enjoy alfresco dining over the summer.

Your table and chairs will quickly become the main hub in your garden so, it’s important you choose the right set for your individual space! Not sure where to start? We have all the information you need to know before you make your decision.

Wooden Dining Sets

Wooden Dining Sets


If your garden is traditional then a wooden dining set may seem the most appealing with its rustic character and outdoorsy charm. However, it’s important to note that wooden dining sets require the most maintenance.

Wood furniture is susceptible to moisture and sunlight which bring stains and discolouration. To maintain your wood, you’ll need to treat it with protective oil or varnish regularly. Or, if you have the time, you can always choose to paint and repaint it each summer to keep it looking fresh.

One of the most popular types of wooden garden furniture is teak. This type of wood is naturally weather-resistant to the British climate however, it’ll still need treating frequently to maintain its warm brown tone.

Top Tip: To ensure the least damage, you can always cover up your wooden dining set in the winter or put it away in a garage or shed.

If you have spare time to spend maintaining your garden, traditional wooden furniture is perfect. If not, you may want to consider a different type of material for your new dining set.

Plastic Dining Sets

If your garden is small or you are working on a budget then plastic dining sets are ideal. Plastic sets are not only a cheaper option, but they’re also resistant to rot, mould and rust. Plus, they’re easy to keep clean- a quick wipe down with a cloth and your table will be looking brand new.

Although this material is great at withstanding all types of weather conditions, it can fade if left out in the sun for a long time. So, you may want to purchase a cover or find somewhere to store it if you want to keep it looking its best for longer.

Rattan Dining Sets

Rattan Dining Sets

Rattan dining sets are a great statement piece in modern gardens. Not only are they sleek and easy to clean, but they also come in a variety of neutral tones to match your patio. 

Rattan dining sets are among the most popular these days however, they can come with a hefty price tag. If your budget doesn’t stretch far enough but you love the look of rattan material, why not choose synthetic rattan? This style is not only cheaper but also much more weather resistant.

Top Tip: Make sure you measure up properly before you buy to make sure you have enough room around the table.

Metal Dining Sets

Metal dining sets look great in Mediterranean style gardens and their durable material means they last forever. Choose a wrought iron dining set and add some rustic character to your outdoor space. Of course, this type of dining set can rust over time, so you may have to re-paint it eventually.

For a more contemporary look, choose aluminium or steel. These sleek and shiny dining sets are smart and easy to clean, ideal for those of you looking for simplicity.

With metal furniture, cushions are essential as the cold, hard material isn’t the comfiest. So, make sure you have the money for matching cushions and, in winter, somewhere clean and dry to store them. You’ll also want a protective cover or storage space for your metal dining set during the cold months to prevent rusting.

Top Tip: If you don’t have somewhere to store your metal dining set, add an anti-corrosive coating to protect it from the rain.

Sofa Sets

If you’re looking to make your garden more homely, what better way than with a sofa set? These are great for families who spend a lot of time in the garden and want to feel just as comfortable outside as they do inside.

The most popular material for sofa sets is rattan. Its strong, bamboo weaves make it comfortable and durable, however, the synthetic stuff can be just as impressive.

Sofa Sets

For those of you on a budget, a high-quality sofa set might seem a bit pricey, but if looked after properly it’ll prove an investment well worth the money, with the average set lasting up to 10 years! Synthetic sets can even last up to 20 with their UV resistant material.

If you don’t have the cash to splash on a corner sofa set why not start off with just one of two sections? Save up and add more sections and gradually build up a full unit. Finish it off with a glass-topped coffee table that can be easily cleaned and you’ve got yourself a relaxing, alfresco seating area.

Synthetic rattan sofa sets are much more lightweight than the real thing however, their size makes them hard to move around. If you don’t want to leave your set out over the winter, consider whether your garage or outdoor building has the storage for it. If not, you should make sure your seating is waterproof to prevent any unnecessary damage.

You should also consider where you’re going to place your sofa set. Perhaps somewhere that sees both sun and shade? As these large units can be hard to manoeuver, you should choose the right area before you buy to save yourself the hassle of trying to move it after delivery.

Top Tip: Avoid putting your sofa on the grass, it’ll mean moving it more often to mow the lawn which may prove difficult and time-consuming. Patios, decking and terraces are the ideal places for a sofa set.

Sun Loungers & Day Beds

Sun loungers are a necessity for those of you who like to sit out in the sun and tan. The most important factor to consider when purchasing this item of garden furniture is if it’s adjustable. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a position that’s not comfortable, so make sure your sun lounger adjusts to both sitting and lying down positions.

Sun Loungers & Day Beds

You also want to make sure that they fold away neatly. Metal and rattan sun loungers often fold flat for easier storage so opt for this material if you have limited space. Chunkier styles made of plastic or wood may be cheaper or more stylish but oftentimes, you’ll just find they get in the way.

If you’re looking to go all out, you can always choose a garden day bed. Although expensive, day beds often include the space of two sun loungers in one and they make great statement pieces.

Many also come with folding hoods and matching cushions and can be separated into multiple chairs, meaning there’s no need to purchase the extras you’d normally need for a sun lounger.

Top Tip: Foldable, lightweight sun loungers that fit in the car can be taken on road tips to the beach or park in summer.

Sheds

As mentioned above, storage is one of the most crucial things to consider when buying garden furniture. So, before you start buying new garden chairs and cushions, you may want to invest in a sturdy shed that can keep it all safe during the winter.

Sheds and outdoor buildings aren’t something to scrimp on. The one you choose will be storing expensive possessions like bikes, lawnmowers, tools and furniture, so picking the right one is crucial.

Sheds

Before you buy, make sure you choose a place in your garden that won’t block the sun or take up too much space. You should prepare the ground and sort out any electrical, plumbing and heating requirements beforehand if you want to keep dryers and fridge freezers out there.

Sheds usually come in wood or metal materials. Although wood is the most attractive, it will need more maintenance than metal, just like any other wooden furniture in your garden. 

Metal sheds definitely aren’t as sturdy as wood styles and they may not look as good but when it comes down to price, they are the much cheaper option. So, if you’re working on a budget, a metal shed may be the option for you.

If you have the money for something truly special and you want more than storage, why not look for a summer house or outdoor building? These can be turned into your own private haven in the form of a reading room, workshop or bar! 


Make sure you check if your shed or summer house is self-assembly or if a building service is available to install it. The first option will require a chunk of your time and the right tools. The second may cost more, but it’ll get the job done properly and will prove much easier for you.

Top Tip: Look out for companies that offer free shed installation!

Parasols

Parasols

Parasols are garden essentials, especially for those of you that burn easily. Invest in a pop-up parasol for your dining table or patio and protect you and your kids from powerful UV rays while you’re eating and relaxing in your outdoor space. 

Traditional parasols and bases are more than affordable and can be moved around your garden as the sun rotates. They can also be transported to the beach or park for protection when you’re out and about.

To protect your parasol from weather damage, make sure you buy a cover or store it away when the sun goes in. 

If the process of moving your heavy parasol seems like too much hassle, you could always invest in a retractable patio awning instead. These canopies come with UV protection and can be easily rolled away into a wall mount when not in use. Some even come with weather sensors that automatically open up the canopy if it’s windy or sunny. 

Get your awnings made to measure to ensure they cover your patio properly or if you’re working on a budget, measure up yourself and ensure your new awning fits the area you want shading.

Top Tip: Make sure your parasols and awnings are made from waterproof fabric to prevent fading or weathering.

Garden Furniture Covers & Cushions

Garden furniture covers are a must-have if you want to keep your tables and chairs from weather damage and general wear and tear. Your covers and cushions play a huge role in ensuring your garden furniture lasts longer, so make sure you buy the right type of protection to keep your outdoor pieces safe.

Garden Furniture Covers & Cushions

If you want to keep your seating area laid out in the summer, make sure you buy UV and weather-resistant cushion covers and quick-dry foam pads for protection against sudden showers and powerful UV rays. You should also opt for lighter toned cushion covers as dark colours absorb the heat quicker, becoming too hot to sit on.

However, if you have pets or young children that like to play outside, darker or patterned cushions are the better choice as marks or spills are much less noticeable on dark colours.

Although your cushions may be safe from the weather while left outside all day, the same can’t be said for bird muck. To prevent birds from messing up your cushions, invest in a large cover for your sofa set. These can be bought in fabric and plastic materials and even come in V shapes for corner sofa sets.

If you don’t want to invest in a cover, make sure you buy removable seat cushions and store these in your shed at the end of each day. 

Top Tip: Make sure your cushion covers are washable before you buy.

Garden Chairs

If you have a large family or enjoy hosting garden parties, garden chairs are something to consider. If you want to stock up on seats, without spending a fortune, then plastic chairs are the perfect solution. Not only are they stackable and lightweight, but they’re also pretty cheap!

If you prefer the look of traditional wooden chairs, remember you’ll have to buy products to treat them each year if you want them to last. You’ll also have to make room in your garage for chunky wooden seats.

Garden Chairs

Another way to add chairs to your space without going over budget is to buy seating areas that can be used in your conservatory as well as outside. Rattan furniture always fits well in a conservatory so why not buy indoor chairs in this material and bring them outside during the summer months?

Or, you could always invest in giant outdoor beanbags and floor cushions for kids. This will prove much cheaper than buying children’s seating areas. Teepees and tents are also a favourite with the little ones and they’ll keep them shaded from the sun!

Garden Chairs 2

If you have a bit more money to play with, why not consider a statement chair? Two-seater benches make great decorative pieces while also providing more seating space. Egg chairs are also super trendy and comfortable- the perfect type of chair for reading corners or patios.

Swinging chairs are perfect for relaxing with your morning coffee while hanging chairs and hammocks also work well at creating a laid back, relaxing feel. 

Top Tip: With swinging and hanging chairs, buy a base or beam to secure them to prevent any falls and breakages from the wind.

Patio Heaters & Firepits

Patio Heaters & Firepits

If you like hosting garden parties or sitting outside on summer evenings, you may want to consider buying a patio heater or firepit. These are ideal for keeping warm as the temperature drops. Fire pits also work well as decorative pieces, creating a warm ambience for toasting marshmallows or alfresco dining.

Firepits come in stone, steel and iron and can be as expensive or affordable as you like. If you’re working on a budget, invest in a low-cost portable iron pit that can be stored away once you’re finished using it. Or, if you want a permanent heating area, build a stone fire pit into your patio and enjoy warm nights outside, all year round.

Patio heaters are also available for all budgets however, the majority of them are made from metal. This material will rust if left out for a long time so make sure you consider your storage options before you invest in one. 

Top Tip: Buy a heater that’ll fit in your shed or garage to keep it looking like new.

BBQs

Who doesn’t love a good BBQ? These can be pricey investments so make sure the one you find is perfect for your outdoor space before you commit to buying it. Small charcoal BBQs are more lightweight and can be easily transported in and out of your shed or garage. They’re also a lot more affordable and easy to clean. 

BBQs

If you want a larger BBQ for family garden parties, a three or four-burner gas BBQ is ideal. Large BBQs are heavy and not as easy to move so you need to make sure you buy a cover to prevent corrosion. These BBQs also take longer to clean, so if you don’t have the time to maintain it, you may want to consider a smaller version.

Charcoal and gas BBQs give off a lot of smoke so if you have a small garden or balcony, an electric one is probably more suitable. However, remember these need plugging in so make sure you’ve got a power outlet nearby.

Top Tip: If you hate the smell of smoke, make sure you shut your patio doors while cooking to prevent the smell from getting inside.

Plants

Bring life to your outdoor area this summer with bright seasonal plants. Start planting your bulbs in spring and watch your beds bloom as the hot weather approaches. Redo hanging baskets once the frost has passed and add pops of colour to the walls and fences around your garden.

If you want to keep your beds looking full all year round, invest in evergreen shrubs like azaleas, box hedges, daphnes and heather. These are the backbone of your garden, keeping it healthy-looking and fresh even in the depths of winter. 

Of course, every evergreen plant you add will need to be trimmed and maintained throughout the year so, if you don’t have a lot of time, you may want to choose those that don’t require much attention.

Top Tip: If you have a family member or neighbour with a garden full of plants, ask them to snip you some cuttings and plant these instead of buying new!

Decor

Add the finishing touches to your home with garden decor. Pots and planters are one of the easiest ways to add some colour and decor to your outdoors. Invest in new pots and spend a day planting seasonal flowers and evergreen shrubs.

If you’re working on a budget, repaint second hand or old pots to suit the colour scheme in your garden or have a go at making your own planters from any old trellis or spare pieces of wood you have laying around.

Decor

Ornaments and signs are also great for decorating your outdoor space, just remember that stone pieces last longer so you may want to choose these over less weather-resistant statues. However, if you are a fan of metal and steel wind chimes, signs and garden art, make sure you buy pieces with a powder-coated finish as this provides better protection from rust.

Birdbaths and bird feeders are also great decorative features for your garden. These items also encourage the presence of local seed-eating birds like sparrows and finches that keep pests and weed seeds at bay, controlling unwanted plants and helping your garden to grow. 

Top Tip: Letting the birds do their job in your garden will also limit the need for weed killer and pesticides, saving you money in the long run!

Lighting

Lighting

There are three types of lighting you should consider for your garden: ambient lighting, accent lighting and task lighting. Ambient lighting includes decorative fairy lights, rope lights and other forms of lighting along walkways and fences. This type of lighting is great for making your garden feel warm and homely in the evenings.

The next form of lighting is also decorative. Accent lighting can be used to accentuate the features you love in your garden. Place spike lights next to statues, around ponds or near other water features and make sure all of the best parts of your garden are visible, even at night.

The final type of lighting is task lighting. Task lighting includes security lights, LED strips and wall lights that provide visibility and protection when you’re outside at night. Install this lighting around your shed, recycling bins or patio doors and make sure your garden is practical and functional as well as decorative.

Top Tip: Buy solar powered garden lighting and help the environment, save money on your electricity bills and eliminate the need for plugs or wires outside!

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