The Spring season is on its way and very soon we all hope to be spending more time outdoors.
Whether you have a small back garden, a sprawling lawn or even a balcony, here are some tips for Athlone Advertiser readers on how to get the best from your outdoor spaces.
With just a little planning, the idea is that your garden or outdoor space can become another living area and as much a part of your home as the kitchen or dining room.
But when furnishing your room outdoors, how do you choose between timber, stone or metal garden furniture?
Fortunately, garden experts have considered the different characteristics and maintenance of each material and have come up with a guide that paves the pathway to finding your perfect outdoor partner.
Stone has a natural place in the garden, with Hudson, Monaco and Provence styles worthy additions to all garden collections.
Hudson tables, for instance, uses composite stone, a glass-reinforced concrete that looks like stone and behaves like stone, but is far lighter and stronger than some natural stones.
Granite, an incredibly tough natural stone, is the choice for their Provence and Monaco ranges. Both designs have a thinner profile, which is why natural stone is an option.
All stone is usually sealed to protect it from the elements so it can be left uncovered outdoors for years and will fare just fine.
Wood also wears rather well, and the two types of sustainably-sourced timber usually used in timber collections, teak and acacia, are both known for their durability, longevity and impressive resistance to rot.
Strong and easy to live with, both are treated to give them extra layers of protection from weather and staining.
While teak will see colour changes within the first few months, you can slow down its silvering by applying oils to maintain its golden-brown appearance.
However, if you are content to see it silver, teak needs very little maintenance.
Similarly, acacia can be left to the elements, or oiled to prevent it taking on a dark grey tone, but because it is generally protected with table tops, acacia asks for very little help.
Wicker is synonymous with garden furniture.
For weave collections, use a tough resin fibre, an ‘all-weather wicker’, which is more durable than natural rattan and won’t flake or peel over time.
These hardy collections will withstand sunshine and showers for years and years to come.
Finally, you won’t need to cover or bring in the majority of outdoor designs during bouts of bad weather, as they are designed to survive and, in some cases, thrive if you choose not to.