Patios are great places to relax outside in comfort, and they're even better when you're entertaining a small gathering of people on a warm day or evening. To get the most value out of a patio, though, you need to invest in a few accessories.
For some people, the expense of this makes it seem impossible, especially if you've just handed over a lump of cash to get your patio built in the first place. But getting patio accessories doesn't have to cost much money, and you can still get all the things you need if you're on a tight budget. Here are some money-saving ways to make your patio perfect.
Patio furniture gets pretty expensive, but in most cases, you get what you pay for in terms of durability. That's not to say you should avoid buying furniture at the lower end of the price scale, though.
If you can only afford inexpensive patio furniture, the trick is to make it last as long as possible so you don't end up spending a fortune replacing it several times. Keep it inside whenever it's not being used, or at least cover it with a strong, weighted tarpaulin.
Keep it clean and dry, and inspect it regularly for any signs of damage that can be repaired.
Spending time on the patio during the evenings is a nice experience, but it can get a bit chilly sometimes. Patio heaters can cost a lot of money, and they end up costing even more than you originally paid for them thanks to their running costs.
Instead of buying an expensive gas or electric heater, go for a fire pit of a chiminea instead. You could get several for the price of a single heater, and they create a romantic, cosy atmosphere as a nice bonus.
Once you've bought one, you can burn all sorts of things as fuel – as long as it's not toxic – or gather your own wood so you don't need to buy coal or logs.
When it gets cold, it also gets dark. Having a fire on the patio gives you a bit of light as well as warmth, but you'll probably need more.
As an alternative to electric outdoor lighting, candles can help you see just as well, and they cost very little. You could buy some small lanterns to burn them in, or just save up your glass jars as a totally free alternative.
If you prefer electric lighting, solar-powered means no increase in your electricity bills. Look for ones that automatically switch on when it's dark, which will maximise battery life.