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Garden Furniture Buying Guide: 8 Top Tips

It's not long now until longer evenings, BBQs in the garden and sunny days lazing with a good book will be on the way. That means it’s time to start considering updating your garden furniture! With so many options available it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve put together our garden furniture buyers' guide to help you pick the perfect outdoor furniture.

What do you need from your garden furniture?

One of the first things to consider when purchasing garden furniture is what you need it for? The pieces of furniture you choose will largely depend on the space you have as well as budget. However, there are some key questions you can ask yourself which can make your choice that bit easier. Are you looking for a chair that will fit in the corner of the garden for one or two people to sit and relax? If so then an egg chair or sun lounger will be the perfect choice. Are you planning on hosting al fresco dinners or making use of the BBQ? If so then a dining table and chair set which can seat all your guests will fulfill your needs. Are you looking for a multi-purpose space where you, your family or guests can either sit and relax or enjoy a bite to eat? In this case, we recommend outdoor sofas or an outdoor conversation set. Less formal than a dining set but hugely practical, outdoor sofas and conversation sets are becoming extremely popular in recent times. They provide comfortable seating for a large number of people and with the addition of an outdoor coffee table or side table they can quickly become a place to enjoy some food or drinks together. The type of garden furniture that’s best for you will depend on the function you require from your outdoor furniture.

Types of garden furniture

There is such a wide range of garden furniture that some of the jargon can become overwhelming. Here are some of the most common garden furniture types…

Garden dining sets

Garden dining sets refer to a dining table and chair set suitable for the outdoors. This type of garden furniture makes the perfect addition to a patio or decking area. They are best suited to gardens used for dining, parties or get-togethers and provide comfort and practicality for meals.

Bistro sets

Bistro sets are small table and chair sets typically with 2 foldable, stackable chairs and a small round table. They make a great addition to smaller garden spaces or balconies. Designed with storage in mind they easily fold away to facilitate storage when not in use. Bistro sets work well for smaller families or in gardens where large get-togethers are not a priority. 

Rocking chairs

Rocking chairs are having a serious moment this year! Spring sees cocooning curves as a major trend to hit our interiors and now as we move into the summer season we’re craving that same comfort and nostalgia in our outdoor spaces. Taking us back to our childhood days swinging on the swing set in the park, a rocking chair makes for the perfect place to sit back with a good book and a drink to while away the long summer evenings.

Sun loungers

Sun loungers are the epitome of relaxation. No longer considered exclusive to beach and pool holidays, sun loungers are the perfect seating option for those who like to lounge around in their garden and soak up some rays. Easy to clean, simple to relocate, versatile and easily stored during colder months, sun loungers make the perfect addition to a garden centered around rest and relaxation.


A garden bench isn’t just something you find in the park! Benches are ideal if your garden has limited space but you still need a focal point or seating area. The perfect garden bench needs to be comfortable and durable. It is therefore important to consider the material of your garden bench to ensure that it will withstand the test of time. Look for wrought iron, steel or galvanised materials to get the longest life out of your bench.

Size of your furniture

Before deciding on a specific dining set, sun lounger or outdoor sofa make sure it’s suitable for the space. Large furniture is not the best addition to a small garden while small pieces of furniture can get lost in larger spaces. Be sure to measure the space where you intend to place your new piece of outdoor furniture with the consideration of leaving space for free-flow of movement around the furniture.
If you’re unsure of where your furniture may best sit then space plan using paper cutouts of each piece of furniture to scale. This allows you to get an idea of how much space your furniture will take up in your garden and where you’ll need to leave space for free-flow of movement.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to have 3-foot clearance around your furniture. If you were to apply this rule to your outdoor table and chairs set then you would need to have 3 feet on either side of the table to allow for chair movement and walking space. If you have a tighter space and plan on using smaller chairs then you can afford to reduce this to 2.5 feet.

What material should you choose?

When it comes to choosing the material of your garden furniture this is largely dependent on personal preference. However, if you don’t have somewhere to store your furniture during the winter months then we recommend choosing metal or sealed wood furniture. These durable materials can withstand the rain and colder temperatures much better when compared to soft wood or rattan furniture. Metal and sealed wood furniture also require less maintenance and tend to work well in all types of garden spaces.

If you’re lucky to have a space to store your furniture during the colder months then we would recommend choosing upholstered chairs that provide ultimate comfort for you and your guests. They also add a sense of luxury to your garden and will make it that bit more difficult to go back inside!

Rattan, both natural and synthetic are hugely popular and aren't noticeably different in terms of style. However, their differences will be seen in terms of their durability over time. Natural rattan, although considered strong, is not made to withstand certain weather conditions. This means appropriate cover or storage solutions will need to be kept in mind. Synthetic rattan however, is more durable and easier to handle but storage solutions will also need to be considered when strong winds are about.

Metal garden furniture allows flexibility on style, strength and durability as well as being considered low maintenance. However, metal does heat up in very hot weather and so, the right safety precautions will need to be taken. Whether that be placing the furniture in the shade or having a handy collection of outdoor pillows or throws at the ready. It is also important to remember that metals rust over time and that you will need to take the right steps - such as repainting or oiling to maximise longevity. Another great take on metal furniture is the combination of metal and cement which is a sturdy combo with a long lifetime. Do bear in mind that this style of outdoor furniture will be more difficult to move around however.

Wood is a hugely popular outdoor furniture material which adds a rustic touch to your outdoor space. When choosing wooden outdoor furniture be sure to select hard woods which are more long lasting.

Plastic garden furniture has gotten a bad rep over the years but recent style and material advances mean that plastic garden furniture is making a comeback. A cheap and cheerful option, plastic garden furniture is the perfect economical choice for those on tight budgets or if you’re looking for a short-term solution. Its durability is questionable and we’d always recommend covering it or storing it indoors during colder months as due to its lightweight nature it's prone to blowing over.

Why should you consider multi-purpose furniture?

To get the most out of your garden furniture we recommend opting for pieces that are multi-purpose. The use of an egg chair which can be brought indoors and used in the conservatory during the cooler months allows you to both store and reuse the one piece of furniture. Similarly, the addition of a side table to the garden can also be used in the living room or conservatory of your home when the summer ends. 

Ottomans can be used as a place to sit or equally as a table. Some furniture also comes with storage built in for blankets, cushions or other outdoor items. Multi-purpose garden furniture frees up space so that you can fit what’s really important to you into your garden.

What extra garden accessories could you add?

Now that we’ve considered choosing the more well-known garden items it’s time to think about what additional accessories can take your garden to the next level. From outdoor cushions to rugs, bird feeders to solar lights. Those added accessories can make a huge difference.

When choosing outdoor cushions or throws be sure to consider the piece of furniture they will sit on as well as if you intend to use them indoors as this will impact the colours and textures chosen. Always look for waterproof outdoor-specific cushions as it’s likely they’ll get caught out in a shower (or two)!

As the sun sets and night falls it can get that bit chillier in the garden but rather than spoiling the fun by having to head indoors the addition of a few cosy blankets will have you and your guests prolonging the fun.

Lighting plays a huge role in the atmosphere as well as practicality if you plan on spending time in the garden as it gets dark. The addition of solar powered lights or lanterns will brighten up your garden space and allow the fun to continue after the sun goes down.

Of course, we can’t forget about the birds when we’re out and about in our gardens. The use of a simple bird feeder or more elaborate birdhouse will help you to attract some nature into your garden and provide a lovely spot to sit back and watch.

How to store garden furniture

As much as we wish we could make use of our garden furniture all year round, we have to consider how we can protect it during the wetter and colder months of the year. Ideally storing your furniture in a shed or storage facility will provide the best protection but if this isn’t an option then the use of furniture covers will help to ensure your furniture stays in tip-top shape, ready for the next spring-summer season!

During the summer and before storing your garden furniture away for the winter it's important to clean and maintain your outdoor furniture to keep it in tip-top shape. 

There isn’t a one-size fits all approach when it comes to cleaning your garden furniture. The methods and products used will depend on the material. For wooden furniture, it’s best to scrub them with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush - with the option of oiling the furniture down afterwards to prolong its lifetime. There are also many tailored wood solution cleaners that can be used but we recommend doing a spot check test first to avoid any potential damages. To remove the build-up of day-to-day dirt and debris such as cobwebs make use of a stiff bristle brush. Unless your wooden furniture is made of teak - designed to keep moisture out, it is best to make sure the furniture is completely dry before storing away. All timber left exposed to the elements will develop some mould and discoloration over time. The best way of removing this is through power washing the wood carefully. 

To maintain rattan furniture, we suggest keeping accessories such as cushions - clean and dry as well as wiping over tabletops and seats regularly with a damp cloth. This should be followed through with a thorough clean using detergent/soap depending on your own personal preference or the manufacturer's recommendations. Rattan should be kept dry where at all possible and not stored away when it’s damp.

To maintain stainless steel outdoor furniture be sure to regularly wipe it down with a cloth to remove any dust or dirt build up. For a deeper clean, wash with warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Metal furniture can be prone to fingerprints and stains, to remove this we recommend using a stainless steel cleaner. Avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach or steel wool which will damage your stainless steel. 

Find your perfect garden furniture with ufurnish.com

We hope our top tips have helped you choose your garden furniture and accessories and have made you confident in making your purchase. For more style inspiration to create your perfect home and garden, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest, or to search and discover over 110+ furniture retailers across the entire market, simply click here.

Deirdre Mc Gettrick

Created By

Deirdre Mc Gettrick

Deirdre Mc Gettrick is the co-founder and CEO of ufurnish.com. Deirdre created the business after struggling to furnish her own home. She brings insight and inspiration to every home furnishing opportunity.

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