GardenSMART :: Choosing Your Perfect Outdoor Furniture is Easy with the Right Information
Choosing Your Perfect Outdoor Furniture is Easy with the Right Information
By Plow & Hearth Photographs courtesy of Plow & Hearth
Want to furnish (or refurnish) your porch or patio, but don’t know where to start? There are so many options in outdoor furniture that the choices can be overwhelming. Oftentimes, people know what they want the furniture to DO, but deciding what the furniture should be made OF can be trickier. From wood to composite to wicker and beyond, the choice of materials can seem endless. Fortunately, a little research can take you a long way towards getting the furniture that works best for your space and lifestyle.
Eucalyptus Wood Furniture
If the natural beauty and timeless look of wood appeals to you, eucalyptus outdoor furniture is one of the best ways to go. It’s beautiful, yet surprisingly affordable.Premium-grade eucalyptus is every bit as lustrous and beautiful as teak, but not nearly as expensive. Why? Teak takes nearly twice the time to mature, which makes eucalyptus more readily available. Eucalyptus is also the fastest-growing hardwood in the world, and it can be regrown from its own roots over and over. This means wood production companies can get their trees from carefully managed eucalyptus plantations instead of logging native and endangered rain forests—making it an ecological choice. To make sure your eucalyptus is sustainably managed, though, be sure to look for wood that’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
In addition to sustainability, you’d have to search pretty hard to find an affordable hardwood that beats eucalyptus for durability. The same natural oils that give it its sweet smell also keep destructive bugs at bay – a must for furniture that lives outdoors. These same essential oils also repel water and moisture naturally, protecting the wood and giving it a high resistance to rot and mildew.
POLYWOOD Composite Furniture
If you’re searching for outdoor furniture that literally requires no maintenance, consider USA-made POLYWOOD®.
POLYWOOD is virtually indestructible, and it’s environmentally sustainable. It’s constructed using a mix of used milk containers, detergent bottles, and other post-industrial material blended with safe additives and UV-pigmented systems. This blend of reused plastics is thoroughly cleaned and prepared for compounding, then composited into the material used to make POLYWOOD. This finished product contains over 90% of recycled plastic by weight.
POLYWOOD® is pressed into a mold that looks like natural wood grain, but because it’s a composite, it won’t warp, chip, split or fade. It never needs painting because the color runs all the way through each piece rather than being applied to the surface. It resists stains, insect damage, salt spray, and other environmental stresses. POLYWOOD also utilizes marine-grade stainless steel hardware, which means it’s resistant to moisture and won’t rust. Best of all? This material cleans easily with mild soap and warm water, or you can just use the garden hose!
You can’t beat all-weather wicker for its traditional look. Wicker is not a material, but a method of weaving. Early wicker furniture was made of natural materials such as rattan, but today’s outdoor wicker is made of synthetic material, typically resin. It can be shaped into any number of patterns and styles. It’s not always your grandma’s typical white, either. We’ve seen black, green, stonewashed gray, and even wild, bright-colored wicker.
TIP: Look for wicker woven onto aluminum frames. Aluminum resists rust for longer-lasting furniture.
Topping It All Off
No matter what furniture you choose, weather-resistant outdoor cushions will make it more comfortable, colorful, and customized to your style. Using cushions also allows you to really invest in high-quality, long-lasting outdoor furniture: instead of having to replace poor-quality furniture in only a few years, you can simply swap in a new color or pattern on your cushions for an entirely different outdoor look! The same applies to outdoor umbrellas and throw pillows, which you can match exactly to your chosen cushion, or mix it up with a coordinating color or pattern. For all of these accessories, choose a low-maintenance fabric such as polyester or Sunbrella®, which simply hoses clean.
To further extend the life span of that great furniture you’ve chosen, use furniture covers during the off-season to cut down on maintenance and cleaning. It’s also useful to consider furniture that folds, stacks, or stores easily if you have room for it in a garage, shed, or basement.
Still Dreaming of the Perfect Retreat?
Enter Plow & Hearth’s Outdoor Oasis contest! The winner will receive an outdoor furniture and accessories collection worth $5,000. Go to plowhearth.com/oasis for details.
About Plow & Hearth: Plow & Hearth is a trusted national retailer specializing in unique, enduring home, garden, yard, and lifestyle products that are quality-built and guaranteed to meet their customer's expectations. Whether you browse their catalog, visit them online, or drop into one of their 24 retail locations, you’ll quickly come to understand their guiding principle: treat every customer like a friend and neighbor.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
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