5 things to know before buying garden furniture for your yard — expert tips

Garden furniture and decor
Garden furniture and decor (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With sunny days on the horizon, it’s a good time to get your backyard ready for summer. And whether you want to update or give your backyard a stunning makeover, the right garden furniture can make all the difference. Not only will it transform it into a more functional, stylish space, but also makes it a more comfortable space to relax and entertain guests.

But, even though you might want to create an ‘Instagrammable’ garden, you might be guilty of making a few backyard design mistakes. And not choosing the right furnishings is one. Ranging from buying the wrong shape and size, to not thinking about practicality, there are some things you need to know before buying garden furniture for your yard.  

In addition, these top tips can help to make your backyard look bigger, more cohesive and will make your space more welcoming. So before buying, we’ve asked an expert to share their garden furniture tips — that will help you enjoy spending more time outdoors.  

1. Factor in how much time you spend outdoors 

Man working in the garden

Man working in the garden (Image credit: Shutterstock)

One thing that we often don’t consider is, how much time do you realistically spend outdoors? And how do you use the backyard space? Do you prefer to relax in a lounge chair with a good read, or enjoy cooking outdoors with one of the best grills? Or maybe you enjoy using it as an outdoor home office? Not only will this determine the type of garden furniture that you buy, but will also ensure you’re making the most out of your outdoor space. 

“There are so many ways to enjoy outdoor space, from dining to relaxing on a sofa, or sunbathing on a sunny day,” says Emily Murison, outdoor living expert at Gates Garden Centre. “How you make the most use your garden will determine the best garden furniture for you to invest in, with dining sets for alfresco food lovers, and loungers for sun seekers.”

“If you enjoy the best of both worlds, then take a look at a casual garden lounge set. These offer total flexibility with adjustable tables which can be set high or low, depending on the occasion.”

Whether you have a smaller backyard or prefer to move around the garden, a good option is a folding chair, like the Best Choice Products Folding Zero Gravity Outdoor Recliner Patio Lounge Chair ($59, Amazon). These also come with an adjustable canopy shade for those bright days, and are easy to store.  

2. Choose a suitable place in your backyard 

Privacy screen in backyard

Privacy screen in backyard (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you have a spacious or compact yard, you’ll need to consider furniture suitability for your outdoor space before buying. If you buy oversized garden furniture, it would look too large and overwhelming. And if too small for the space, it would only look too sparse and have less impact.

“Choose where to put your garden furniture before you buy it ,and visualise the set in the space,” advises Emily. “If you want sun or shade, observe where this occurs in your garden to decide where to put your set.” If you have a south-facing garden or balcony, it can often be difficult to enjoy outdoors without the sun's blinding glare in your eyes, but you can try one of these ways to create shade in your yard.

Another common backyard mistake is positioning outdoor furniture in the wrong place completely. In particular, putting patio furniture or outdoor storage on grass is a no-no, as the heavy weight of the legs from furniture can cause long-term damage to your lawn. 

“Using a surfaced area is probably best, whether it is a decked or a paved area," Emily says. "This will prevent your garden set sinking into the lawn, and it will also allow a flat surface to ensure everything stays stable. Many quality garden sets come with adjustable feet, so you won’t have to put up with a wobbly coffee table even if you have an uneven surface.” 

3. Make sure you get the dimensions right 

Small patio furniture for garden space

Small patio furniture for garden space (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, most people make the mistake of not measuring the sizes/dimensions first before buying garden furniture. It’s essential that they are all in proportion, to create a more functional space. This is especially the case if you’re hosting outdoor gatherings, and you’ll want your guests to move around freely, without being in cramped spaces. 

“Once you’ve decided the best place to put your garden furniture set, check the dimensions of your area, and then check the dimensions of any furniture you’re looking to buy,” adds Emily. “Remember to think about access, leg room and whether you need a bit more space to pull out chairs and benches.” There’s nothing worse than having beautiful garden furniture that doesn’t fit into a space properly.

4. Decide on the right seating arrangement 

Backyard decor

Backyard decor (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another factor is ensuring you have sufficient seating to accommodate all of your guests. Quite often, we either run out of seating, or have a mish-mash of different types of chairs that can make the backyard look unappealing. “When planning which set to buy, it’s a good idea to first think about how many people you’d like to seat outside, “ advises Emily. “Bistro sets, benches, swing seats, and cocoons are ideal for two, and if you have a large family or enjoy having people over, then a garden lounge or dining set might be a good place to start.”

“Garden Lounge and sofa sets come with outdoor corner seating or a sofa and table. They generally provide seating for at least four to six people, but some can seat up to eight or more. When browsing online, try filtering the number of seats required to narrow down your search from 1 Seater to 8+ Seater garden furniture. Many garden furniture sets include a number of different seating solutions in the same style, so you can always expand at a later date.”

5. Pick the right color for your yard 

Backyard furniture in light woven color

Backyard furniture  (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Just because a color is trending on the socials, doesn’t mean it will suit your backyard. In fact, certain shades have a clever way to make your backyard look bigger if you’re dealing with a smaller space. 

“When you are considering colors, lighter shades like Sandstone suit more traditional garden designs, whilst darker colors like Dove Grey can bring a more contemporary feel to the outdoor space,” advises Emily.  “Some garden furniture manufacturers make popular styles in a choice of colors with complimentary cushions, so keep an eye out for this.”

In addition, also consider the type of material and style you want that is practical for your needs. “A garden furniture set will create a new focal point in the garden space, and it’s therefore an exciting process as you get to express your taste in décor outside as well as indoors in your home. When it comes to style, there’s a wide range of materials available, from wooden and woven rattan, to cast aluminium and rope.”

Side tables like this Small Rattan Wicker Coffee Table ($40, Amazon), are practical yet stylish, and also give those, glam holiday vibes. Such patio tables are usually easy to assemble and lightweight to move around your backyard.  

Plus, you don’t have to spend a fortune to upgrade your outdoor space, and give it a stunning makeover. Check out these 7 cheap Amazon products that will make your backyard look more expensive. 

Small Rattan Wicker Coffee Table: $40 @ Amazon

Small Rattan Wicker Coffee Table: $40 @ Amazon
This espresso-brown, rattan patio side table is two-tiered that can accommodate you essential items.  With dimensions of 17.7 x 17.7 x 19.7 inches, it has a weight capacity of 110 pounds, which is sturdy enough for small snacks and glasses. Designed with all weather-resistant, hand-woven wicker, it’s also rust-proof and easy to clean. What’s more, its attractive rattan design looks stylish for any backyard.  

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!