It’s officially autumn: the children have gone back to school and the shops are crammed full of merchandise for Halloween, Bonfire Night and (yes) Christmas. The weather is turning, and your garden is ready for a bit of a hiatus. There are a few last jobs you’ll need to get done before letting it look after itself for a few months - a final mow of the grass, one last hedge-trim to keep everything looking neat, and then you can stash your garden furniture to keep it in good condition for next year.
Pushing your garden furniture into the shed might not turn out to be the best plan, though. A little bit of extra preparation now will save you work (and money) in spring.
Storing wooden garden furniture
Wooden furniture tends to gather lichen and fungal spores, so before storing your wooden garden furniture make sure you’ve given it a good scrub with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water. Allow it to dry properly and (ideally) oil it before storing it in your shed or garage or covering it in a heavy tarpaulin. If it’s not dry before it goes undercover, the lack of decent air circulation might cause it to rot. If leaving it outside, make sure the feet are off the ground so that the legs don’t soak up any ground moisture.
Storing plastic garden furniture
The main risk with plastic furniture is discolouration from mildew if it's not kept properly dry and ventilated. After cleaning your furniture with hot, soapy water (using a soft cloth - nothing abrasive), dry it thoroughly before storing it in your shed or under a tarpaulin. If it has stained over the summer, try using neat bleach to get it back to its original whiteness (test this on a small, inconspicuous area first).
Storing rattan or wicker garden furniture
Rattan and wicker garden furniture can be tricky to clean because of the weave. To remove dust, use your vacuum before giving it a good clean with hot, soapy water - a toothbrush should help you to get into all the nooks and crannies, or give it a blast with a high-pressure hose.
Wicker garden furniture should always be kept indoors when not in use. You could varnish it before popping it into storage to prolong its lifespan.
Synthetic rattan is rather more hardy and is designed to weather the winter months. To keep it looking in top shape, though, you should cover it with a PVC sheet or fitted furniture covers if leaving outdoors. If you have room, your garage or shed is a better place to store rattan furniture than leaving it outdoors.
Storing iron garden furniture
Rust is the biggest risk when storing iron garden furniture. Once you’ve given it a clean and ensured that it is dry, check for any blossoming rust spots and remove - you can get rust removal products from any DIY shop, or try soaking the affected area in white vinegar applied with a soft rag and rub with aluminium foil. Rinse clean and allow to dry completely before storing it under a tarpaulin or in your shed.
General tips for storing garden furniture
If you’re storing your garden furniture in the shed, double-check that the roof is still waterproof. Over time, a felt roof can become weathered and may need patching up or sealing with bitumen.
If your garden seats have soft cushions, it’s a good idea to store these indoors somewhere rather than in external storage space - mice and other creatures would be only too eager to adopt your cushions as a new home! Similarly, parasols should be kept indoors. Wash or dab clean all soft materials and allow to dry thoroughly before storing them.
Check that your shed, garage or storage boxes are secured with the best locks you can afford. Opportunist burglars are likely to be deterred by a sturdy lock. If you live in an area where there is a lot of outbuilding crime, it may be worth storing your garden furniture in a secure self storage unit
for the colder months.
If you lack secure space to store your garden furniture, you might consider renting a self storage unit. Our units are indoors, protected against pests and the elements and monitored by CCTV and alarms. You could also keep your gardening equipment with us so that everything is kept clean and dry until you next need it. Units are available from 10 sq ft, so you’ll be able to fit all your furniture and/or tools in your unit for just a few pounds a week.
Once your garden furniture is stored and your other outdoor jobs are done, your garden will look neat and tidy until spring - and then the real work will begin once more!