How to Look After Your Garden Furniture Over the Winter
As late summer inches towards autumn, there’s always hope of enjoying one final hurrah in our gardens. September often brings at least one spell of warm, sunny weather with it. One final chance to sit out and make the most of our outdoor spaces, even with the evenings starting to draw in.
Even then, however, our thoughts inevitably turn to what comes next. The warmth and sun will eventually give way to much cooler, damper weather. The attractions of sitting outside will fade. As the days shorten, time to tend to our gardens will get less and less. It’s best to get any outstanding jobs done now, while it’s still light and pleasant.
It’s also time to start thinking about care and protection ahead of the most inclement winter weather to come. Especially when it comes to your garden furniture.
This is one of the burdens of investing in luxury furniture for your outdoor spaces, of course. If your preference is for budget plastic furniture in your garden, you have less to be concerned about – albeit you will probably have to think about replacements after two or three seasons of use.
But the more you pay for your garden furniture, the more pressing the incentive to look after it and make it last. Yes, more expensive furniture should boast a better build quality and be made from more robust materials. Teak wood, for example, a favourite of garden furniture manufacturers, is prized for its exceptional strength and natural weather resistance, a product of its unusually high oil content.
But even the toughest pieces of furniture made from the toughest materials need a little TLC if they are to be maintained in prime condition. And never more so than through the winter months. So, what should you be thinking about now to protect your prized pieces through to next spring?
Find a damp-free storage space for perishables
Most luxury garden furniture is made from durable, weather-resistant, non-perishable materials, for obvious reasons. But especially with chairs, day beds, sofas, loungers and the like, it’s common to also have cushions to provide extra comfort on top of the base.
These and any other accessories made from perishable materials – often fabric – will need to be stored away somewhere dry and damp-free for the winter. Ideally you would move them into your home, where the warmer temperatures will help keep damp or mould away. But if that is not possible and you need to store them in a shed or garage, it’s well worth investing in a secure water-proof container to put them in.
Move to a sheltered position
As well as perishable fabric accessories, some people like to stash all of their outdoor furniture away for the winter to protect it from the elements. But this depends on having the space available under a roof somewhere. That’s not a problem if you have a large enough garage or shed. But furniture tends to be bulky and it can be difficult to find space in amongst all the other things that usually reside there.
A good fall back is to move your furniture somewhere sheltered instead. Whether under trees, under a lean-to or simply tucked up against a high wall or the side of a building that is sheltered from the prevailing winds, reducing exposure to the worst of the weather will go a long way to protecting your furniture.
Make sure covers are properly secured
Another thing to think about is how easy it is to move your garden furniture indoors or into a more sheltered position in the first place. It’s not an issue for items made out of wicker or rattan. Indeed, one of the reasons these materials are so popular for garden furniture is that it makes items lightweight and easy to move around.
But things aren’t so straightforward for solid hardwood dining tables or polished concrete benches, for example. These more heavyweight items take some lifting. If moving your garden furniture indoors is not practical, covers are a good alternative. It’s worth investing in high quality covers that are as tough as they are waterproof. All it takes is a small tear and you can end up with a surprising amount of water seeping through in heavy rains.
It’s also important to think about how you will secure your covers. High winds can be a menace, posing the risk of a cover ripping and tearing as much as potentially flying away completely. It’s worth going the extra mile to make sure furniture covers flap as little as possible, whether by pegging them tightly to the ground or using things like cable ties and bungee cords to wrap them securely to the furniture.
Clean and protect
Late summer is the ideal time to put in a little preventative maintenance for your garden furniture. One of the big attractions of investing in high quality outdoor furniture is that you shouldn’t have to spend hours and hours on upkeep – the choice of materials and build quality should make life easy for you. So you don’t have to worry about sanding and varnishing premium hardwood furniture every year, you shouldn’t need to get a polished concrete table repolished.
However, that’s not to say that a little preparation ahead of the harshest months won’t pay dividends in keeping your furniture in pristine condition for as long as possible. We’ve mentioned how robust and durable teak is as a material for outdoor furniture. But despite its incredible natural water and rot resistance, giving your teak furniture a clean once every 12 months and applying a specially formulated protector won’t do it any harm – especially if you want to preserve the warm sandy hues of the young wood, which fades to grey over time.
Similarly, applying a coat of wax to polished concrete furniture will preserve the natural shine and also offer protection against light scratching that can be caused by debris scraping across the surfaces.