In the UK, it’s sensible to not trust the weather. There are many ways that you can protect your bench from wind, rain, and whatever else is thrown at it
The UK weather can be relied upon to be anything but reliable. Hailstones in summer to balmy days in winter, the unpredictable nature of weather can make it our enemy. One garden accessory that can suffer the ill-effects of weather is garden furniture, whether it is made from metal or wood.
Protecting it, however, is not difficult. These hints and tips will shield your garden bench or outdoor dining table and chairs from the worst of the British weather.
People often think that it is rain that causes the most problems, from rusting metal garden furniture to wood to rot. But actually, for hardwood in particular, it is the cold that has the potential to cause the most damage.
Teak and other hardwood are a slow growing wood from the tropics. The humidity of the forest is one of the reasons why teak from a sustainable source is one of the best materials for hardy outdoor garden furniture. Its dense, compact interior structure makes it incredibly hard and relatively impervious to rain and damp.
But when temperatures drop below zero, any water in or on the wood will freeze. The damage happens on thawing, as the ice becomes water again it swells. And this causes damage to the interior of the wood.
The best form of protection from the cold is to shield it. If possible, you should place hardwood benches and furniture in dry storage over winter. If not, snug fitting waterproof bench covers are the next best thing.
If there is one thing we can almost guarantee in the UK, it is rain. With a temperate climate, we tend to have our fair share of rainfall which can be problematic to garden furniture.
It is not just dampness, but the fact that it can sometimes seep into cracks and joints. It can also cause wood to swell. For softer wood, this spells disaster as it has such a porous surface and internal structure.
For hardwood, rain is not so much a problem, more so if the item is kept in good condition. From painting to varnish, adding a top layer of protection is a good way of extending the life of an item but keeping rain and water from penetrating the interior of the wood.
However, make sure you use a varnish or paint that is specifically for hardwood and exterior application as this doesn’t set completely hard but moves as the wood naturally swells and dries.
An additional layer of protection afforded by waterproof bench covers is also a great move for whenever there is a deluge, whether that is autumnal rains or a summer shower.
Bright sunshine is a joy and will probably see you running for the garden to enjoy its rays. After all, it is the perfect weather for enjoying the garden. Especially as the sun is not always something that makes a regular appearance in the UK.
Sun, as much as we may love when it appears, is powerful. Especially at the height of summer. As well as bleaching the colour out of certain fabrics and materials, it also dries out objects, especially natural materials such as hardwood garden furniture.
This in itself is not a problem, until the wood starts to swell again with damp and rain. It can cause the wood to dry out so much that it permanently damages it, and this leads to a weaker structure.
Just because we don’t get a lot of sun doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take precautions against its drying effect. On long hot summer days, place the bench in the shade and make sure it is adequately protected. Consider oiling it with a teak or Dutch oil that nourishes the wood preventing it from drying too much.
Gardeners in some parts of the UK frequently battle the effect of heavy winds on their garden. And it can damage outdoor furniture too.
As robust and as hardy as teak is, it won’t take much in terms of being thrown about by the wind. ‘Battening down the hatches’ is a nautical term many of us borrow to indicate that action needs to be taken to stop things being blown away and damaged. Fixing your garden bench, for example, is a wise move.
As our garden bench care guide shows, the smallest protective measures can ensure that the garden furniture you have invested in can be shielded and protected against every aspect of the British weather.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.