Whether you’re looking for something practical or a splash of style, there’s lots of choice out there
The days are getting warmer, the nights are getting shorter and the lure of a cold beer in the garden on a balmy summer evening grows ever stronger. Unless you have a severe case of patio embarrassment inflicted by an insipid white plastic four-piece set of chairs and a wobbly, circular table that should have been in the skip years ago. In which case, there are bank holidays on the horizon and the chance to invest in some new garden furniture at decent prices.
Much depends on your backyard: a small, paved courtyard garden, for example, couldn’t take a sprawling rattan corner sofa which seats six and comes with a matching table. Obviously, what you’d be looking at here is a chic-looking metal bistro set with a glass-topped round table in a classic duck-egg blue. And don’t forget a complementing parasol.
Because of its chunkier looks, a low-slung rattan suite is ideal for a medium to large patio or a substantial area of decking, where its feet will not catch in the wooden slats. Arranged in a square, with lots of plumped-up cushions, a central, matching table – some of which have small inset ‘firepits’ to offset any late evening chills – and a large all-enveloping sunshade, there’s nothing better for a large gathering of mates who have dropped round for a barbecue.
Unless you’re more of a formal dining type. In which case, consider a solid wood set-up, such as teak or eucalyptus, either topped by a gazebo or shade sail, which will create a stunning, sophisticated look particularly against a Japanese-inspired garden.
Wood is more likely to blend naturally into a garden and, if you’ve been carefully nurturing a small lawn, the last thing you’ll want is excessive wear and tear. So, keep off the grass with a simple wooden bench, a nice feature to break up a sunny path and one which might not object to being left outside in the winter.
And there’s something else to bear in mind – storage. Timber-framed hammocks or swing seats and wood sun loungers are perfect for lounging on a hot, sunny afternoon but may not be a practical addition to the garden if there is nowhere to put them when the cold and damp set in.