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Best garden furniture 2021: The best dining sets, swing chairs, benches and loungers

Kate Hilpern
2 Nov 2021
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Furnish your garden with our pick of the best swing chairs, sun loungers and wooden benches

If you like to get through the winter months by preparing for the coming summer, then you might already be thinking about buying garden furniture in anticipation of those warmer and longer days. Besides, getting your orders in early means you can beat the summer rush when all the good stuff is likely to go out of stock.

Our roundup aims to provide you with a range of ideas so you can plan ahead. We’ve considered all sizes of gardens – from small courtyards to sprawling lawns, from bijou rooftop terraces to gigantic patios. And with items costing anything from under a hundred quid to well into the thousands, we’ve taken all budgets into account, too.

Use our buying guide to help you first work out for what you use the space – whether it’s to entertain friends with a bit of al fresco dining (provided government regulation will allow it), or spend a warm Sunday morning lounging around and catching some rays. Scroll down further to find our top picks for this year’s hottest garden furniture finds.

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How to buy the best garden furniture for you

What features should I consider?

First, think about how you use your garden and the furniture that will cater to those needs. Do you want a dining set to entertain friends, or a swing chair or sun lounger in which to lie back and relax? Perhaps you’d prefer a bench to enjoy the view or a table with which you can match your own chairs for a personalised look.

Next, it’s important to consider the space you have available. This doesn’t only mean measuring items to ensure they fit (which, of course, is essential), but also considering if there will be sufficient space to move around your new items of furniture, and if there’s suitable access to get it into your garden in the first place. Is your garden furniture self-assembly? We spent a good few hours putting together some of the furniture we tested, whilst other pieces required simply slotting a few bits together. Others came fully assembled and ready for use.

What about weather resistance? Will you need to store part of it (cushions or a canopy, for example) or all of it away through the winter? If so, storage space will be essential. Some garden furniture is foldable or stackable, which helps, or you might have to invest in a weatherproof cover.

As for maintenance, those who are time-poor are best opting for items that will look after themselves. Some furniture, such as certain woods, will need treating in order to continue looking its best several years down the line.

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What type of garden furniture should I get?

Dining set: Great for family meals and entertaining. If space is an issue, consider benches or tuck-under chairs. Some tables have sliding extensions, which are ideal for when the entire family descends on you for lunch.

Bistro set: Brilliant if you’re short on space or it’s for use by only one or two persons.

Coffee table set: If you want a relaxing vibe, consider a furniture set with sofa, chairs and a coffee table. In some cases, the tables and/or sofas have built-in storage for the cushions, too.

Bench: A classic choice, although there are numerous contemporary designs available. As before, some even come with built-in storage.

Sofa: The number and types of garden sofas available on the market has grown exponentially in recent years, with styles ranging from modular corner sofas with chaise and under-seat storage to swing sofas that rock you to sleep while you read your book.

Chair: A comfy outside armchair or a swing chair? There’s much more besides.

Sun lounger: For all those sun worshippers out there wanting to lay back and soak up some rays. For maximum comfort, look for features such as an adjustable back, padding and a headrest. Wheels can help for manoeuvrability and storage purposes, as can items that are foldable.

Daybed: Somewhere between a sofa and a bed, daybeds have a spacious, flat area on which you can lie down (this may or may not be covered). Most, but not all, are rattan or rattan look and include well-padded cushions.

Bar: Yes, that’s right, bars are back in vogue, so pull up a stool and get your partner to make you a cocktail. Great for entertaining – as well as an excellent hiding place for kids getting a soaking in a water fight.

What materials should my garden furniture be made from?

Wood: Classic, natural and timeless, wood weathers well over time for a more lived-in look. The best wood for garden furniture is teak – it’s strong, long-lasting and won’t split, crack or warp. More wallet-friendly alternatives include pine, acacia and eucalyptus. Whichever type you opt for, check that it’s been pressure-treated for protection against the elements and find out if it’s likely to require regular sanding and/or wood treatment. You should also ensure it’s been sustainably sourced.

Metal: Robust, sturdy and easy to maintain, garden furniture made from metal is usually one of two types. Steel is strong and heavy, but will need covering. Aluminium is both lighter-weight and weather-resistant.

Rattan and rattan effect: Rattan looks smart and is lightweight, which makes it easy to handle when it comes to storage. For longevity, we’d advise opting for an artificial rattan, such as polyrattan, which is equally durable and lightweight, and easier to keep clean in comparison to the real stuff; the odd rinse-down with soapy water will suffice. The biggest advantage is that it can be kept outside all year round.

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The best garden furniture you can buy

1. Ikea Sollerön Modular Corner Sofa 3-Seat: The best outdoor corner sofa

Price: £547 | Buy now from Ikea

Ikea’s sofa is at least as durable, well-made, smart and comfy as some corner models we’ve tested at two or three times the price. It’s modular and, as such, flexible enough for you to create the best shape and size for your space. Although it looks like natural rattan, it’s actually made from a plastic equivalent, which should see you through many more summers – and winters – than the real deal.

The accompanying cushions are available in four colours options (grey, black, beige or light blue). Their colours don’t fade, they wash well and will happily survive the odd shower (but not heavy rain). There’s plenty of under-seat storage on offer, too. The Solleron is also available in two-seater or four-seater options, too. A brilliant buy that ticks all the boxes.

Key specs – Dimensions: 882 x 144 x 223cm (HWD); Main materials: hand-woven plastic rattan

Buy now from Ikea


2. Charles Taylor Dorset 2 Seat Swing With Roof Cover: The best swing seat for two

Price: £443 | Buy now from Ryman

A swing chair is a classic piece of furniture that is guaranteed to add a touch of luxury to your garden. This 2-seater by Charles Taylor is made from hand-finished Scandinavian Redwood timber, and it looks as great as that sounds. The canopy cover will give you protection from rain and sun, though it is recommended that you store the cover when it is not in use.

Robert Dyas also sells a three-seater Dorset Seat Swing, if you need a bit more space. You can also order the Dorset with a green canopy instead of burgundy, or with cushions. The chair comes delivered flat packed, but assembly by Charles Taylor’s delivery team is included in the price - which is perhaps a selling point in itself.

Key features - Dimensions: 196 x 170 x 124cm (HWD); Main materials: Scandinavian redwood with a stain finish

Buy now from Ryman


3. John Lewis & Partners Marlow Aluminium 4 Seater Garden Lounge Set: The best lounging set for outdoors and indoors

Price: £849 | Buy now from John Lewis


You can barely move for rattan when you're shopping for furniture that brings living room-level comfort out to the garden. No offence to rattan, but we prefer the smart, stylish, contemporary look of this metal lounge set from John Lewis, whose furniture is at the pricey end of the scale but can be relied upon to look the business.

The aluminium is light enough to pick up and move around with ease, and the cushions are comfortably thick and robust. The cushions aren't waterproof though, so you'll want to bring them in if it rains, but that's usually the case with outdoor cushions. And while the table does need assembly at home, it's quick and easy to do, and the chairs come fully assembled.

Key specs – Dimensions: table 40 x 109 x 60cm; sofa 749 x 130 x 80cm; chair 79 x 69 x 80cm; Main materials: Aluminium
Buy now from John Lewis


4. House by John Lewis Salsa Garden Swing Seat: The best swing seat for one

Price: £249 | Buy now from John Lewis


On the hunt for a ridiculously comfortable and great-looking garden chair for one? Feast your eyes on this beauty. Both eye-catching and restful, it’s surprisingly lightweight but holds a heavy(ish) person with ease, gently swinging or bouncing, depending on your preference. If you have kids, be warned you’ll never get them off it – but, fortunately, the steel frame and concentrated weave are robust enough for them to have their fun before you nudge them off to sit back with your book or newspaper – or even a bit of shut-eye. You can happily leave it out in the winter in the knowledge that it will look as good as new the following summer.

Key specs – Dimensions: 190 x 123 x 95 (HWD); Main materials: powder-coated steel, plastic rattan

Buy now from John Lewis


5. Ikea Falholmen Dining Set: The best budget dining set

Price: £190 | Buy now from Ikea

Once again, Ikea comes up trumps when it comes to affordable furniture. Its outdoor range is rather extensive and, for just £190, the Falholmen set comes with four wooden armchairs and a table.

The dining set is made from acacia, a durable hardwood with a natural resistance to the elements, making it well suited to outdoor use. It’s also been pre-treated with a wood stain which provides extra protection as well as giving it a lovely rustic finish.

You can buy the Falholmen set with cushions included, should you want to add a bit of extra comfort, or buy your cushions separately from Ikea’s range.

Key features - Table dimensions: 72 x 73 x 153cm (HWL); Chair dimensions: 80 x 57 x 55cm (HWD); Main materials: Acacia wood

Buy now from Ikea


6. Hokku Designs Pearl Daybed with Cushions: The best daybed

Price: £1,340 | Buy now from Wayfair


After a piece of furniture that has the wow factor? The Pearl daybed if for you. Not only will it keep you well-shaded on a hot summer’s day, but it’s also one of the comfiest spaces in which to relax. Note that it arrives in five parts (an aluminium welded frame that needs to be bolted together plus a cushion pack) and requires at least two people and a whole lot of patience to put together, but what a spectacular result.

All that enter your garden are likely to comment on it and the large seat cushion, four large pillow cushions, as well as scatter cushions, makes it a great place to unwind. Add some fairy lights for a pretty evening look, but those cushions will have to be stored away when not in use.

Key specs – Dimensions: 250 x 220 x 150cm (HWD); Main materials: rattan, polyester

Buy now from Wayfair


7. Suntime Monte Carlo Rocking Sun Lounger: The best sun lounger

Price: £139 | Buy now from John Lewis


This is a bargain for such a robust lounger. The frame is thick and sturdy, with the curved base allowing for a gentle rocking motion that will soon have you snoozing in the sun. You won’t need any extra cushions; the mesh seating and headrest provide all the comfort you need. The armrests are well positioned, making it easy to get in and out of the chair.

Self-assembly is required, although in practice this is as simple as slotting the rocking mechanism into the main section of the lounger. Super-comfy, with a super-stylish design, the Monte Carlo Rocking Sun Lounger offers excellent value for money. For more sun lounger ideas, see our roundup here.

Key specs – Dimensions: 74 x 67 x 154cm (HWD); Main materials: steel, all-weather fabric

Buy now from John Lewis


8. Ikea Äpplarö Bench with Backrest: The best garden bench

Price: £70 | Buy now from Ikea


Wooden benches make a lovely addition to a garden, but the majority look fairly similar. We’re fans of Ikea’s Äpplarö bench since it offers a more modern shape, as well as a curved backrest into which you can lean for extra support. It’s easy to put together, plus it’s been pre-treated with semi-transparent wood stain, giving it a dark brown hue whilst also stopping it from peeling in more extreme weather. Granted, it doesn’t feel as heavy and robust as more expensive garden chairs, but for less than a hundred quid, it offers exceptional value.

Key specs – Dimensions: 80 x 117 x 65cm (HWD); Main materials: wood

Buy now from Ikea


9. Potenza Hammock with Steel Stand: The best hammock

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

Whether lounging in the sun with a drink in hand or just having a snooze, there’s nothing more relaxing than a hammock. However, when you’re suspended from the ground in little more than a large piece of fabric, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve made the right purchase. According to a wealth of happy Amazon customers (with 92% of reviews awarding four or five stars), this hammock from Potezna is well-made, sturdy and easy to put together.

The frame is made from durable steel which has been sandblasted for protection against the elements. What’s more, should the stand become damaged due to “mechanical or environmental harm”, Potenza will replace it under its 24-month warranty. As for the hammock itself, you can choose between crossbar and cocoon designs. With a crossbar, the fabric of the hammock is spread out flat and taut, while a cocoon hammock (as the name suggests) has more give and wraps around your body for a more snug feeling. The hammock also comes in a range of attractive colours.

Key features - Dimensions: 125 x 120 x 350cm (HWL); Maximum weight capacity: 200kg; Frame material: Steel; Hammock fabric material: 70% cotton, 30% polyester

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