Every garden needs seating, and perhaps a table to be truly complete. Without furnishings, the garden can look great, but its use is really limited. If you want to sit down, read a book, relax, and perhaps have a snooze in the shade; you need seating. If you plan on entertaining friends or eating a meal in the garden, you need chairs and a table.
How long do you want to sit on a particular seat?
How many different places do you want to sit in?
Do you want furniture that can be easily moved to other parts of the garden?
Will you have to move the furniture to mow the lawn?
When do you want to use the seat – night/day, summer/winter?
Do the seats match the other furniture in the garden?
Think about how and why you are going to use the chair. Deep comfortable chairs with cushions are very inviting and relaxing. These chairs are good for reading or taking an afternoon nap. Chairs that make you sit up are more for eating at a table. They don’t encourage you to linger for long periods.
What makes a comfortable chair
Not too hot or cold (metal can be a problem unless protected from extreme temperatures)
The right height for your body (try it out)
Soft (cushions are great --- wood is softer to sit on than concrete or stone)
Dry (Wood and cushions can absorb water and take longer to dry out)
Good lumbar support on the back
SUN LOUNGES or HAMMOCKS
One of life’s great pleasures is a quiet afternoon nap in the garden. If you want a place to lie down, you can use either a sun lounge or a hammock.
Sun lounges made with an aluminium frame are lightweight enough to easily move into a quiet shady spot for a snooze in the garden.
Hammocks need strong support, such as large trees or the wall of a building. They can be easily set up and pulled down and they look great – lending a relaxed atmosphere to the garden.
BUILT IN BENCHES
These are usually included in a retaining wall or similar structure. They are great for “back up” seating if you have a party; but are not usually comfortable enough to sit on for a long time.
There are plenty of uses for an outdoor table:
A place for outdoor meals
Playing games such as cards or chess
A place to feature flowering pot plants
Place to do gardening work so that you don’t have to bend over/work on the ground
Garden ornaments or statuary
You need to give some thought as to where you are going to place your table. When combined with the accompanying chairs, they will have a significant impact on the look of the garden. However, outdoor tables don’t have be left in the one place. Many tables are lightweight enough to be easily moved by one person. A table needs to complement the your chairs; both aesthetically and functionally. You need chairs that fit under the table and are an appropriate height for the height of the table. If the height of the chairs and/or table can be adjusted, then they can be changed to suit the body dimensions of the person using them.
MAKE THE STYLE FIT THE GARDEN
When selecting garden furniture, keep in mind the atmosphere and style that already exists in your garden. If you have a modern garden, then choose furniture with modern design and styling. For a more traditional or formal garden, select furniture that reflects this ambience and atmosphere.
Generally speaking, lightweight metallic furniture painted with bright colours will suit a modern garden, whereas more sturdy furniture made from timber or cast iron will blend well into a traditional garden.
The choice of colours for garden furniture is a matter of individual choice, but there are some rules to keep in mind. In hotter climates or during summer, brighter warmer colours are more appealing. However, bright colours can look garish and create excessive contrast in some situations. Alternatively, cooler colours (eg. blues and greens) can make the garden appear cooler.
Upholstery design is a matter of personal taste. One person might prefer a floral design, while some one else will favour paisley. A third person might not like either of these and choose cushions of a single colour. Organic materials like cotton can rot if left outside. For this reason, some garden chairs come with cushions that can be taken inside when they are not being used. Upholstery that is to be left outside needs to be waterproof and have some measure sun resistance. It is a good idea to put this furniture inside over winter, because if it gets too dusty and wet it can become mouldy.