Preparing Garden Furniture for Winter

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It may seem like a distant memory now, but this summer was perfect for enjoying our outdoor spaces to the max, with lovely long hot days that stretched out into balmy summer evenings. During this time, many of us took the opportunity to add new garden furniture to our outdoor oasis. For some this meant adding a bistro set to transform a small space, whilst others may have opted for a grand lounge set for entertaining. So with the nights now drawing in, and the clocks changing, the question on everyone’s mind is β€œHow should I care for my garden furniture in winter?” Read on to discover our tips and advice in our easy guide to wintering your garden furniture.

Can garden furniture be left outside in the winter?

Whilst you are retreating inside and curling up in the warmth to escape the cold weather, the best advice is to let your furniture do the same. Storing furniture over the winter months is the best way to keep it clean and unharmed by the British climate. There are several options available to you:

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Bring it indoors
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Store it in your shed, greenhouse or summer house
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Use a garage or garden box

These are the best places to winter outdoor furniture, as they guarantee your precious furniture is kept dry and protected. Some garden furniture can be folded or stacked to save space. Bringing the outdoors in can even make a style statement, whilst some comfortable outdoor chairs make a fantastic addition to a conservatory or sunroom. But not everyone has these options open to them due to space limitations, so what can be left out in the cold?

Do I have to cover outdoor furniture in the winter?

The answer to this question is not always… but it’s advisable to for some furniture, whilst other garden furniture is perfectly fine to leave uncovered. To minimise cleaning, we highly recommend the use of a garden furniture protective cover for some furniture. The best covers are made to measure so they fit your outdoor sets snugly. In bad weather always ensure they are secured using the included pulls or Velcro and if necessary weigh them down too, so they don’t end up in next door’s garden.

Bramblecrest Chedworth Large Cushion Storage Box in Sandstone

Where can I store cushions in the winter months?

We always recommend that cushions are cleaned, dried thoroughly and stored wrapped, somewhere water-tight and where mice can’t nibble at them. Although storing them in a shed or garage is tempting, we don’t recommend them as these areas can often harbour hungry mice who might find it too tempting to taste a chunk of your delicious garden cushions.

Cushion storage boxes are specifically designed to keep seat and scatter cushions dry and aired during warmer months when they are not on your furniture and they allow the cushions to breathe. Available in a range of colours and finishes to match your furniture set, be it rattan or aluminum, look out for storage boxes which feature a removable liner. Our recommended best approach to over-winter cushions is to carry them up to your attic and store the cleaned cushions in one of these zipped-up removable cushion-liners, where they can safely remain undisturbed until you retrieve them in the spring. Even cushions that claim to be shower-proof should not be left out in the elements over winter. For more information on this subject, see our blog post Can you leave outdoor garden scatter cushions outside?

Bramblecrest Chedworth Modular Sofa Set with Rectangular Fire Pit Table in Sandstone with fire pit lit

Is it ok to leave rattan in the rain?

Modern rattan furniture from a quality company such as Bramblecrest is made from weatherproof materials which offer water repellent and anti-fade properties. It would be fine in a British winter, but we recommend rattan is covered to protect it from dirt, droppings and drenchings. Most manufacturers have covers that can be bought for their furniture. Special attention needs to be paid to securing them safely, to ensure they don’t take off during a storm. At the beginning of summer, rattan will just need a light sponge down with soapy water and it should be good to go.

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Can metal furniture be stored outdoors?

Here we are referring to the painted, treated or coated cast iron, aluminium or steel metal furniture which is traditionally used for bistro sets and garden benches, such as you would find in Hartman’s range. Again, their treatments make them rust and UV resistant, but we recommend covering aluminium or stainless steel furniture to weather the winter, as this will keep it clean and protected. There is the risk that iron or steel may attract corrosion, so furniture made from these materials should be stored somewhere dry. If corrosion strikes, first treat any flaking paint or exposed areas of bare metal, and allow the furniture to dry before bringing it in.

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Is it good to leave wood outside in the winter?

Most good quality wooden outdoor furniture will be treated with wood preserver to help it weather the rain and bad weather. In most cases it can happily be left outside in all the vagaries of the British winter climate, come rain, snow, wind or (ahem) shine. Please be aware though that many woods will age naturally over time if left out in the British weather. For instance, teak furniture will age to that familiar silvery grey appearance. Teak’s honey appearance can be brought back at the start of the spring season by lightly sanding off stains and then using a teak cleaner, followed by a teak restorer.

It is not advisable to cover wooden furniture as the natural oils in the wood can attract mould or mildew and moisture trapped under the cover may cause the wood to rot. Additionally, wooden furniture shouldn’t be allowed to winter sitting on grass, which will remain wet for most of the season, as its legs could absorb moisture and begin to decompose. There is also the risk that water which has entered the wood can freeze and expand, causing the wood to crack. Instead, move wooden furniture onto a well-drained patio area, or somewhere where there is no risk of water pooling.

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Can plastic weather a winter?

Plastic furniture is not susceptible to rust or rot brought on by the rain, so can be left outside. However extremes of temperature are not kind to plastic. Lots of hot sun can make it fade, not that this will be a problem in British Wintertime. Extreme cold can make plastic brittle, so it should be brought inside during very cold weather. After all, no-one wants to see Granny go for a burton after a brittle chair-leg fails. To spruce it up in the spring, plastic just needs a light sponge down with soapy water.

So is it safe to leave stone out in all weathers?

Stone furniture is built to be left in the great outdoors and doesn’t need covering or bringing in. Over time it will age to a lovely weathered appearance.

If you have any questions about garden furniture or covers, you can either visit us in-store, call our garden furniture team on 01664 454309. or alternatively shop online for home delivery or collection from Gates Garden Centre in Leicestershire.

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