Picnic Tables, Umbrellas & Patio Heaters (page 2) 

Which shape?

The most traditional shape is a rectangular table sitting on two A frames at either end of the table and braced underneath between the A frames. One of the disadvantages of an A frame is that people have to sit side by side and facing the person opposite and of course the ends are not used for seating. The advantage of this shape is that it is highly stable and well suited for lawns.

Circular/oval picnic tables can provide a more social solution to the seating problem however they will be more difficult to arrange and fixed seating solutions are problematic. Probably the least stable of all and best suited for decking and paved areas.

A hexagonal picnic table, due to its shape, is ideal for beer gardens. The traditional furniture, with people sitting shoulder to shoulder, does not facilitate conversation with those sitting next to each other. The hexagonal one, on the other hand, with the angular seating arrangement, makes conversation easy. It is also easier to reach for food items, thus making it perfect for an outdoor dining experience. These are generally more stable than circular options and suitable for either lawns or hard surfaces.

With all tables, given the variety of British weather, you will need to ensure that you can put a garden umbrella in the centre to either shade from the sun (on the rare occasion we get it) or provide some shelter from rain (which we get a lot of).

Umbrellas

These essential accessories come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choosing the right umbrella is as important as the choice of tables and seating in your outside areas.

Nothing looks more inviting than a sea of umbrellas fluttering in the sunny breeze and is a great way of advertising that you have an outside area.

Whilst you may be tempted to just accept a few from suppliers or purchase branded umbrellas these are often not as durable as others in the marketplace.

Your customers will love dining outside in the beer garden, or on the patio or decking, but UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer if you are exposed to the sun for too long. A garden umbrella will help to shield you from these damaging UV rays, the shade can also help to keep your customers from overheating on a hot day.

A garden umbrella will also help to protect your garden furniture from the sun and rain, both of which can, over time, damage the furniture. Your garden umbrella can also help to accent and complement your garden furniture. Many styles are available to match your furniture, whether you have a traditional French Bistro style table and chairs, or something more modern.

Several styles of umbrella are available to suit your garden. Shapes include round, square, and oblong. You can get umbrellas with and without fringes, and in many different colours and patterns. There are traditional umbrellas, with the pole in the middle, or there are umbrellas that hang from a frame, freeing up the centre of the table for more space.

If wind is a problem in your area, you can find umbrellas with vents in the canopy, to let the wind flow through. Reinforced seams and corners will help the umbrella to last longer.

The traditional colours for a garden umbrella are green and cream, to blend with the colours of your garden. If you want, however, you can find umbrellas with canopies of many different patterns, and different colours. Make sure you get an umbrella with an easy to clean canopy and a cover for when the umbrella is not in use. This way, you can keep the umbrella clean and looking new, and not have to worry about bringing it inside to keep it clean.

You want an umbrella with a durable pole. The pole should be strong, light, rot resistant, and it certainly would not hurt if it matched the furniture. Something like bamboo may look nice, but it won’t last as long as other materials, like hardwood or aluminium. A properly constructed and treated umbrella poll will last for many years.

You will also want a reliable and easy to use mechanism to raise and lower the canopy. A wind up system takes the least effort to use, and the brass fittings look very nice on an umbrella. There are also mechanisms that use a pulley to raise and lower the canopy. Umbrellas are also available that you simply push into place, much like a rain umbrella, although on something as large and heavy as a garden umbrella, this mechanism is not as easy to use.

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