By Alain Beaudent

During the summer, you might well spend very long hours in your garden, enjoying good weather. A well designed patio makes for an appealing garden that you will be more inclined to make use of. It is worth making as much effort with your outdoor space as you do with any room in your house.

If you have a small patio, you might be better off with a small bistro set, whereas a large patio might lend itself to a large, robust wooden table and chairs. Choose furniture which will complement rather than clash with the look of your house. Choose garden furniture to suit the space you have at your disposal.

Many people who have conservatories simply bring their wicker or rattan furniture from that room outside when it's a sunny day and this can prove a good solution. Recycled plastic garden furniture looks good and is better for the environment. Contemporary garden furniture might mean sleek metal furniture or perhaps curved wood.

Ceramic barbecue grills look good and provide that traditional outdoor cooked taste. Gas barbecues are easy to use, offering greater control when cooking. Masonry barbecues are major features if you have room for them and can serve as a centrepiece for your outdoor space.

Choose attractive pots for flowers, as they are part of the outdoor environment as well as what's in them. Plants can make the difference between a plain patio and a far more appealing one. Having herbs in pots is a great idea as they prefer dry conditions and are also nearby when you are cooking.

Fire pits make striking centrepieces at parties. Chimineas have been popular for some time now and many people like to have one for a bit of extra warmth when the sun's gone down. Patio heaters can help you use your patio for a few more hours on colder evenings.

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