Choosing and caring for garden furniture

During the summer, you're likely to reap the rewards of your garden. To do this, you'll need to make sure your furniture is in tip top shape for entertaining. Read on for tips.

Choosing and caring for garden furniture

A well-designed and well-furnished backyard can be a pleasant warm-weather extension of your house. It's important to bear in mind the garden's layout and climate when choosing your outdoor furniture — after all, it has to fit the available space and be able to withstand your region's harshest weather.

Unlike stone furniture, outdoor furniture made from wood is rarely weather-resistant. But wood furniture, if properly treated and cared for, can enjoy a relatively long life, even in areas with extreme weather. Thoroughly waterproofing wood furnishings will protect them from moisture, but you'll still have to store the furniture during the winter until warmer days return.

Wood and stone

  • Don't store wooden furniture in a heated space or in direct sunlight. The wood may become brittle and split, and stained wood will begin to fade, eventually losing its colour.
  • Choose woods that contain lots of oil, such as acacia, larch, honey locust and teak, because they can help keep moisture and rot at bay. To keep them from turning gray too quickly, rub in some oil every spring.
  • Give a new stone bench the patina of old stone by painting it with water and plain yogurt in a 10:1 ratio.

Wicker, plastic or metal

  • Don't have a lot of space? Choose light, stackable items made from wicker, plastic or metal. Wrought iron looks great, but it's bulky and heavy.
  • Add a romantic feel to your garden with wicker furnishings made from bamboo, cane or rattan. Since they're sensitive to moisture, don't leave them outdoors during the winter; they'll eventually decay and get moldy.
  • Choose high-quality plastic furnishings that can withstand temperature fluctuations, rain and sun. They are easy to care for. The caveat: they need protection from frost, which causes small cracks where dirt can collect. Put plastic furnishing in storage in late fall.
  • Leave aluminum and steel furniture outdoors all winter if you want — both can withstand all kinds of weather conditions.
  • Select good-quality wrought iron furnishings. They are coated with clear or coloured sealer, so in theory they are weatherproof. But before the onset of winter, you should still check the sealer for small cracks where rust can get a foothold. If you find them, either store the furniture away from moisture or restore the finish.

Cleaning wicker furniture

  1. If possible, place the wicker items in the bathtub. Larger items may have to be cleaned outdoors.
  2. Rinse furniture thoroughly with the showerhead or garden hose, then scrub it with a brush, soap and washing soda. Allow to dry thoroughly, but not in the sun.
  3. Treat stains with a soft cloth moistened with peppermint oil.
  4. Letting wicker dry in the sun tightens the weave.
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