Best garden furniture 2020: top buys for your summer garden

Kit out your outside space with the best garden furniture around – dining sets, chimeneas, barbecues and more

best garden furniture: Kettler Lyon Lounge Set
(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Investing in the best garden furniture is worth it for anyone who has a patio or terrace, however small. While there have been a few changes to lockdown measures, with summer and (hopefully) warm weather just around the corner, we all still want to make the most of our outdoor space at home. 

So we come to you with our top picks, from luxurious garden chairs to while away the hours in, to compact bistro sets for afternoon tea and chimineas to keep you warm on chilly nights. We've trawled the web to bring you the best designed pieces from a range of garden furniture makers, from John Lewis & Partners to Cox & Cox. We have looked for options that not only please the eye and the wallet, but will be durable and easy to maintain. Be it metal, wood or rattan, we have choices for you. 

Scroll on to see our top picks. Not sure what to look out for? We have comprehensive buying advice at the end of the article. Then, if you are after more garden bargains, head to our garden furniture sales page.

John Lewis & Partners Rye garden sofa

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

1. John Lewis & Partners Rye 2-Seat Garden Sofa

Best garden sofa: classic, durably, and so comfy

Specifications
Maximum weight: 254kg
Material: Aluminium frame, synthetic wicker
Reasons to buy
+Natural willow effect+Sturdy and weatherproof+Cushions included
Reasons to avoid
-Won't be to everyone's taste

Soft in appearance but made from hard materials underneath, the beautiful Rye garden sofa will sit harmoniously in your garden all year round. Here's what we love about it:

Traditional design

With its woven wicker effect, it’s traditional in its appearance, and will made an elegant addition to a patio or conservatory.

Wicker look, but more durable

The resin wicker is weather and fade resistant, and will take a lot of weight and won't lose its shape. The perfect compromise between a natural look and the durability of a synthetic material.

Sumptuous cushions

These cushions are really, very nice and soft – but they're also showerproof, meaning you don't have to take them indoors every time it rains.

  • Buy the Rye two-seater sofa from John Lewis & Partners

Kettler Lyon Lounge Set

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

2. Kettler Lyon Lounge Set

Best garden lounge set: al fresco breakfast in total comfort

Specifications
Best for: Luxury garden seating
Material: Galvanised steel frame, PVC rope weave, polyester cushions
Size: Table: H45.5 x W52 x D60cm, Chair: H102 x W73.8 x D80cm
Care instructions: Take cushions inside during wet weather
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for lounging in comdort+Smart contemporary design
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a larger space because of the stools -Expensive

The luxury Lyon lounge set will make al fresco breakfasts a breeze.

Comfortable chairs with foot stools

The set comes with two chairs and roomy footrests, which can also be used as extra seating if you have people around. 

Versatile design

The set is made from a durable synthetic weave that looks right on trend; the wingback chairs are a must-have if you want your garden to look contemporary.

Durable and weatherproof during winter

Don't be fooled by the delicate look of this lounge set – it's made from a durable material that can be left outside year long. You will need to take the cushions in when it's wet, though.

  • Buy the Kettler Lyon Lounge Set

Charles Bentley 3 Piece Metal Bistro Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Charles Bentley 3 Piece Metal Bistro Set

Best garden bistro set: great for small gardens

Specifications
Best for: Smaller areas
Material: Steel
Size: Table: Dia. 60 x H71cm, Chairs: W41 x D45 x H80cm
Care instructions: Cover when not in use
Reasons to buy
+Strong and durable  +Affordable+Perfect for small gardens and balconies
Reasons to avoid
-Chairs uncomfortable without cushions 

This hardworking little bistro set will make al fresco breakfasts a dream come true on even the smallest patio. It's made in lots of different colours, too, so you can choose one that complements you garden best.

Durable design

The steel  frame is weighty and durable, meaning it will hold up well all year round, but be sure to preserve it by covering it over when not in use. 

Easily accessorised

You may wish to add cushions to the chairs for extra comfort, or leave them as they are for a streamlined look.

Take a look at our pick of the best garden dining sets

  • Buy the Charles Bentley 3 Piece Metal Bistro Set

Kettler Palma 6 Seater Garden Mini Corner Table and Chairs Set

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

4. Kettler Palma 6 Seater Garden Mini Corner Table and Chairs Set

Best garden dining set: perfect for larger groups of people

Specifications
Best for: Garden parties
Material: 5mm half round rattan
Size: Footstool: H48 x W38 x D38cm, Overall: H220 x W200cm
Care instructions: Cover when not in use
Reasons to buy
+ Keeps you warm in the evenings + Looks modern  
Reasons to avoid
- Weathers easily  

Need a garden dining set for the whole family? The beautiful Palma set is up to the task.

Sturdy and weatherproof 

The hand-woven wicker is tough the weather resistant, making this set suitable for leaving outdoors all year round.

Customisable design

You can combine this set with any other pieces from the Palma range.

Wood effect tabletop

The wood effect tabletop is sturdy and durable, and creates a slightly rustic look that will look great in most gardens. 

  • Buy the Kettler Palma 6 Seater Garden Mini Corner Table and Chairs Set

Best gas BBQ: Weber E-310 gas barbecue

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

5. Weber Genesis E-310

Best gas BBQ: An impressive centrepiece for your garden party, this is the best gas BBQ you can buy

Specifications
Burners: 3
Material: Stainless steel
Dimensions: H119.4 x W144.8 x D73.7cm
Reasons to buy
+Cook for the whole family+Features side tables for prepping food

Designed by our grill fanatic friends on the other side of the pond, there’s no surprise that Weber Genesis rules over all.

Precision control cooking

 With three burners, this BBQ is a must for regular hosts of summer gatherings. It should defy all myths that gas BBQs can’t produce as much flavour as charcoal, thanks to its cleverly designed Flavorizor bars. 

Convenient to use and easy to clean

And with a grease management system, two handy side panels for food prep and a shelf and hooks to store everything you need to serve, there’s everything you need for a seamless summer party.

  • Buy the Weber Genesis E-310

Suntime Monte Carlo Rocking Sunlounger in dark grey

6. Suntime Monte Carlo Rocking Sunlounger

Best garden sun lounger

Specifications
Best for: Sun bathing
Material: Steel
Size: HWD 74x67x154cm
Care instructions: Suitable all year round
Reasons to buy
+ Curved design for comfort + Durable material  
Reasons to avoid
- The lack of sun may reduce its use  

Summer days are best spent lounging around, and this Suntime Monte Carlo Rocking Sunlounger from John Lewis has proven popular among customers for its curved, ergonomic design. Here's everything you need to know about it:

Durable design

Its durable steel frame means it can be left outdoors all year round, the only downside is you may not get many days in the year you can use it due to the unpredictable weather. 

Super comfortable

The lounger features a head cushion and arm rests for extra comfort when napping outdoors. 

We have more attractive sun loungers in our buyer's guide to the best garden sun loungers

  • Buy the Suntime Monte Carlo Rocking Sunlounger

Argos Home Ipanema Garden Chair

(Image credit: Argos Home)

7. Argos Home Ipanema Garden Chair

Best garden chair

Specifications
Material: Synthetic weave
Dimensions: H89 x W57 x D63.5cm
Set: No
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable and stylish+Stackable
Reasons to avoid
-The paintwork can be prone to scratching

The Ipanema garden chairs will add a lovely pop of colour to your garden – and they're weather resistant, too. 

Contemporary design

These chairs are perfect for bringing a touch of summer to your garden and thanks to their sturdy synthetic weave, they can remain outside all year round, serving as a reminder of summer even during the dingiest of winter days.  

Four colours to choose from

Mix and match these chairs to create a tropical vibe in your garden – or choose the neutral shades for a more understated effect.

What to watch for

Be careful when stacking these – the paintwork can scratch.

Browse more chairs in our buyer's guide to the best garden chairs

  • Buy the Argos Home Ipanema garden chair

How to choose garden furniture

Where to start when choosing the right furniture for your garden? It's vital to first work out how you use your garden – do you enjoy hosting parties (lots of seating needed), or prefer to relax in privacy? Are you a sun worshipper, in which case a lounge chair is essential, or a consummate cook (think large and sturdy garden dining table or dining set)? 

When choosing your garden furniture, our advice is to pick items that are durable and well built, without sacrificing comfort and style. Size matters, too: if your furniture is too small, you won’t want to spend much time using it; too large, and your garden will feel compromised.

Read on for comprehensive coverage of all these factors in choosing your garden furniture – and inspiring examples, too.

Choosing the right garden furniture material

Choosing the right material is essential, too. There are four main choices: wood; rattan; metal; and man-made materials. If you have a shed or conservatory, you needn’t worry about your furniture getting wet or damaged. If not, you will need to choose garden furniture that can withstand the elements. 

How to choose wooden garden furniture

Wooden garden furniture is a classic, natural choice that will complement most gardens. Rustic or modern, light or dark – there are lots of options. If your garden has decking, choose a wood type and colour for your furniture to harmonise with it, which doesn’t mean you need an exact match, just enough similarity to avoid clashing colours and textures. 

For outdoor use, go with a tough hardwood that can be left in the garden year-round. Teak, an ever-popular choice for garden furniture, is exceptionally durable thanks to its very high oil content. Almost completely rain-proof, it rarely rots, dents or warps, so makes for a good investment. Keep it in good condition with an annual coating of sealer. 

Other good, tough timber garden furniture options include oak, eucalyptus and acacia. They are all hardwoods that can hold their own against the weather, although they are not quite as hardy as teak, so will benefit from oiling once a year. 

The downside of wooden furniture? Some larger pieces can be heavy; this means they won't get tipped over in the wind, but they won't be easy to move around the garden regularly either.

Choose the best wooden outdoor furniture with the help of our guide.

Rattan garden furniture and wicker

Rattan furniture is the ideal buy for recreating the relaxed look of a traditional country cottage garden (whether you live in the country or city). Lightweight, it's generally easy to shift around the garden – handy if you like to follow the sun with your lounger.

What's the difference between rattan and wicker? Rattan is a strong and durable natural material (made from a vine) that can stand up to the British weather; a tell-tale sign of high-quality rattan is that it should be consistent in texture and colour. You might find that the rattan you're considering is synthetic (see faux rattan below), which is where wicker comes in...

Wicker relates not to a separate material, but to a weaving style (think rattan furniture), and while it can be made from natural materials, such as bamboo, it is usually crafted from a sturdy, weather-proof synthetic, typically resin. That's that confusion cleared up, then.

Ready to choose a rattan garden set? Consult out guide to the best rattan garden furniture.

Metal garden furniture: aluminium, steel and wrought iron

Metal garden furniture is perhaps the most versatile of all materials for garden furniture. It can be traditional in style – think intricate wrought iron pieces – to modern and industrial. Metal integrates easily into every kind of garden, from country cottage to rooftop terrace, and can be powder-coated for a colour finish. 

Cast aluminium is strong, durable, does rust or flake if left out in wet weather, and is generally very low-maintenance. Despite being hardy, it is a very light material, making it portable – perfect if you like rearranging your garden furniture, or simply want to move into the shade when it gets too hot. There is a slight disadvantage to its light quality, however: if it’s windy, it is likely to blow over. Aluminium also absorbs heat, so chairs will be more comfortable topped with soft padding.

Take a look at our pick of the best metal garden furniture

Steel garden furniture, powder-coated to protect it from rust, is heavier than aluminium furniture, making it a more suitable material for garden benches or dining tables that will seldom be moved. If the coating begins to chip, it should be restored immediately or the furniture will rust. 

Find out how to revive metal garden furniture in our guide. 

Wrought iron has a traditional, intricate look especially suitable for a period property. Garden furniture made from wrought iron is heavy, which makes it more appropriate for benches or tables that will not be moved often. The heavy weight also makes it unsuitable for lawns, which it will sink into. Wrought iron can rust and will benefit from an anti-rust treatment, for example powder-coating. 

Metal garden furniture requires about as much maintenance as wooden pieces. A dry brushing followed by a wash with warm water and a mild detergent will keep it as good as new. If you make sure to take care of any chips in the coating, it can remain outside all year round, but, as with any other type of garden furniture, over-wintering in an outhouse or garage will increase its longevity. 

Plastic garden furniture: what to look for

Yes, plastic garden furniture can look great! Offering the durability and weatherproof qualities to rival that of its natural counterparts, plastic is light and extremely easy to clean, making it a great option if you have kids, for instance. Not all plastics are made equal; look for a hardy compound resin, or low density polyethylene, which is very durable.

How to choose a garden table

If you mainly spend your outdoors time doing gardening and only sit down to rest with a cup of tea, a small table, perhaps one that comes as part of a bistro set, may well do the trick. For lovers of al fresco dining, a more substantial option will be necessary. And if you plan on using your garden table for a variety of purposes, including doing computer work, choose something that will be easy to clean.

If you are choosing a table as part of creating an outdoor living space, take a look at our outdoor living space design ideas gallery. 

Consider the size of your deck or patio, too, to get a good fit. Your table choice needs to allow for at least a metre all round on top of the table's measurements so that chairs can be pulled comfortably and safely back. In a small garden, on a tight terrace or balcony, a round table will allow you to seat more people, yet will take up less space.

We have more ideas for small garden terraces and balconies

Choosing deck chairs and sun loungers

Have a balcony, a decking area – or, perhaps, even a pool – and love a bit of garden lounging, but don't want to invest in large pieces of furniture? You need decking furniture – more specifically, a deck chair. Choosing one will be dictated mainly by how much space you’ve got as they're quite deep when folded out, but if you have sufficient garden storage to fold your deck chairs away while you’re not using them, they're a brilliantly comfortable budget buy.

More to spend? Invest in a garden recliner chair. Make sure to try it out before you buy as not all shapes and configurations will suit everyone's posture. And, for ultimate comfort, buy deep cushions, too. Ensure they're water-resistant so that they can take a shower, and choose a foldable chair if both need to go away when summer ends. 

Storing garden furniture

Where will you put your furniture when the long summer days are over? While some materials can sit happily outdoors all year round, investing in covers extends the life of garden furniture and if you can store it in the garage, all the better – folding chairs have an advantage. Cushions must be brought in. To keep them fresh, check the instructions for cleaning them and make sure they’re completely dry before storing to avoid mildew.

More garden design ideas