Blankets spread out on the grass can provide relative comfort, but garden furniture will do that, plus provide seating and add to the overall appearance of your garden.

Picking a garden furniture set can be as confusing as choosing a lounge suite you like, so ask yourself these three questions if you find yourself at a loss while looking at brochures:

1. How much space do I have available?

Before losing your heart to a particular set of furniture, first be honest with yourself about what is actually possible. A small garden wonâ??t necessarily be able to accommodate an eight-seat table or four loungers. Youâ??ll have to scale down your dreams to not overcrowd your garden.

That said, a small square table with two chairs will look completely out of place in a huge garden. Here you can rather go with the eight-seat table and even perhaps incorporate the four loungers. Bigger gardens are also excellent spaces for lounge-like garden furniture, if that is what you want.

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2. What look do I want to create?

The furniture for a modern garden and a French-style garden will be vastly different. For the former, one would choose something made from aluminium or resin, while wrought-iron pieces would create that French château feel. Wooden garden furniture would be a good choice if you want your entertainment area to blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings.

The other choice you would need to make is between a sophisticated and a playful space. A sophisticated look can be created with furniture in natural colours or metals that stay free of paint. Pillows and cushions would be in cream, khaki or any other light colour. These colours would make way for bright tones and patterned decorative items instead, for a playful and more informal garden.

3. How much upkeep do I want to commit to?

Garden furniture spends its life outside, in rain and shine. Some materials are able to withstand just about any weather, while others are more fickle. The material you choose will depend largely on the weather your region experiences and how often youâ??re prepared to treat or replace your garden furniture:

Plastic: You can pretty much put plastic garden furniture outside and forget about it. The other advantages are that plastic furniture is inexpensive and light, so you can move it around easily. There are downsides though â?? plastic garden furniture is susceptible to sun damage and can break easily.

Resin: Resin furniture is one step up from plastic, making it a slightly more attractive option. Like plastic, resin can resist water and itâ??s easy to move around. Itâ??s more durable, however, and is not as prone to cracking or fading as plastic is.

Iron: Iron furniture is weather resistant, so it can be left outside all year round. You can just take off any pillows and cushions in heavy rains or when the wind is blowing full force. The downside to iron is of course that it does not make for the most comfortable seating, and is very heavy to move around. Donâ??t forget that it can also get very hot when exposed to the sun for hours on end.

Aluminium: Aluminium furniture can give you the same look as iron, but itâ??s easier to handle. It wonâ??t, for instance, get as hot in the sun and it is lighter, making it easier to move around. For a no-fuss option, choose heavier-grade furniture that is more durable than lightweight pieces. They can be left outside, while the lighter pieces would need to be stored under cover during rainy seasons.

Wood: When it comes to maintenance, wood requires the most work of all the materials on this list. Thatâ??s because wooden furniture would need to be covered during rainy weather and be varnished on a regular basis. It could be heavy as well, which would make it difficult to move when rain suddenly strikes. But… look after wooden garden furniture properly and it will last for years, making it a great investment. It also looks beautiful.

Donâ??t forget that umbrellas or awnings provide some protection for garden furniture, so consider investing in either or both. Spare a thought for the pillows and cushions too. You donâ??t want them to be ruined as soon as the rainy season hits, so choose materials that are weather-resistant or can be cleaned easily.

Now you should have a good idea of what will work for your personality, taste and garden. Have fun shopping!

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