How to Look After Outdoor Furniture in the Winter

Come winter, the chill wind howls, the rain beats at the door and we wake to overnight frosts that leave us shivering. Spare a thought for your garden furniture which up until recently, you lounged on enjoy summer days and autumn evenings. Sloane & Son Garden Benches show how to care for garden furniture so that when spring comes around again, it is still in great shape.

1. Clean it

It is not too late to give your garden furniture a quick clean, something it will appreciate as it faces the winter weather. Try to do this on a dry day and when there is a light breeze to help it dry but unless it is a warm day, don’t drench your furniture in water but simply wipe it over.

Garden furniture will become dirty as the winter progresses and if it already has a top layer of detritus, it will simply attract more. This causes a problem with it always being damp and for wooden garden furniture, this can mean pests too.

2. Undercover

The best place for garden furniture to spend the winter is undercover of the garage, shed or other storage units that can be bought from the high street and online gardening retailers.

Before the winter sets in, give your garden furniture a brush down, and then fold or store away in the garage or shed.

HINT – garages and sheds are also places that some pests – usually insects – like to hide away and pass the winter too. Whilst most insects won’t bother with plastic or metal, they can enjoy burrowing into softwood garden furniture for shelter but also as a great place to lay eggs. Check around the garage or shed for insects that look ‘dead’ and remove them because actually, they could be hibernating.

3. Shelter it

Not got the room in the garage or shed for your garden furniture? Move them to a sheltered spot in the garden to give them respite from the wind and rain. However, overhanging trees shedding leaves causes furniture to become coated in debris and that means a deep clean come the spring.

4. Cover it

For any piece of garden furniture, from a teak wooden bench to metal table and chairs, the biggest enemy over winter is cold.

From frosts to ice, cold seeps into the inner structure of a material and causes problems when the ice thaws. This is especially true of wooden garden furniture, even robust woods such as teak.

Prevention is better than cure and preventing the item from getting wet in the first place is the solution. The best investment you can make alongside quality garden furniture is a protective cover that fits the item perfectly and one that is also waterproof.

5. Paint it, oil it or varnish it

The idea behind painting, oiling or varnishing any item is to nourish the material from which it is made so it is better able to deal with the conditions around it and to add a protective layer that helps it ward off the effects of the conditions.

Different materials need different kinds of treatments but with wooden garden furniture, we can paint it with ‘special’ furniture paint to give it an extra top layer of protection.

Some woods, mainly slow growing ones like teak, are better oiled. Using a good quality furniture oil nourishes the wood and when the wood is in good shape, it handles winter weather better, even when it is under a protective, waterproof cover.

Varnishing is another option because it allows the grain of the wood to shine through, as opposed to paint which obscures it. However, not all varnish products are the same. Choose one that doesn’t dry to a hard lacquer as when the wood dries and expands, the varnish will crack.

6. Anchor it down

As well as rain, we are guaranteed wind in the UK over the winter months, something that will cause damage to garden furniture if it blows it over in the garden, against fences or when the winds are gale force, across roads, into neighbouring gardens and so on.

If you are leaving your garden furniture out over winter, as well as covering it, anchor it down with straps to clasps fitted into the concrete or patio, or use heavy weights that stop the wind from damaging it – the same goes for the family trampoline too!

Covered and protected, most garden furniture survives the winter well!


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