10 great buys for your garden

Rotating day bed

Lounge around all summer on this decadent day bed, which has been designed specifically for easy outdoor living. Though it looks elegant, remove the comfy cushions and you'll find the frame is actually made from a hard-wearing, hand-woven synthetic wicker with an aluminium frame, so you can leave it outdoors even in extreme weather. The built-in castors allow you to move it around the garden to catch the best of the sun's rays.

Price: £785

From: John Lewis (08456 049049; www.johnlewis.com)

Boules set

Garden games can be all bright colours and sweaty enthusiasm, so add a touch of gentle, sophisticated French flair to your outdoor entertaining with a stylish game of pétanque, or boules as we say in the UK. Great for the garden or taking to the beach, this eight-ball set comes in an attractive metal presentation case complete with jack, (or cochonnet as it's known in France) and allows up to four players to take part.

How much: £46

From: Not On The High Street (0845 259 1359; www.notonthehighstreet.com)


A gently swaying hammock is a sure-fire way to chill out and is so much more comfortable than many sun loungers. This colourful, single hammock will bring a holiday feel to even the smallest garden and is made from EllTex®, a polyester and cotton mix that's durable and weatherproof. The company also offers a mini baby hammock, a version for older children and a large-scale family size, so you and the kids can hang out shooting the breeze.

How much: Single: £60, family size: £75

From: Not On The High Street (0845 259 1359; www.notonthehighstreet.com)

Curva gas barbecue

If you hate the stench and smoke of charcoal why not invest in an easy-to-use, clean-and-tidy gas barbecue instead? There are some stylish sizzlers on the market, including this Curva model, which has a highly contemporary design in wood and stainless steel. It comes with double burner plus warmer rack and side shelf and there's a further wooden shelf underneath that offers handy storage for tools, sauces and serving dishes. Gas is far less temperamental to cook with than charcoal, plus the equipment shouldn't smoke out the neighbours.

How much: £229.99

From: Homebase (0845 077 8888; www.homebase.co.uk)

Fire pit feature table

Add a touch of drama to your alfresco festivities with a real fire. This stylish mosaic brazier can make a stunning focal point for evening entertaining and will warm you up on chillier nights. One of the plus points over similar products is not only that it doubles as an attractive table when not in use but that it can be turned into a simple barbecue just by removing the protective grill cover. There is a full range of matching mosaic garden furniture if you want to co-ordinate your outdoor look.

How much: £199

From: Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com)

Penguin deck chairs

Witty and colourful, the designs of these deck chairs have been inspired by the original 1935 covers of Penguin's classic novels. You can choose from three titles: The Garden Party, The Big Sleep and A Room Of One's Own, which are available in orange, green or deep purple, depending on the title you want. There's enough choice for everyone in the family to have their personal favourite and they're currently reduced in price, so pick up a good book while you can.

How much: £59.99

From: Crocus (0844 557 2233; www.crocus.co.uk)

Silhouette striped parasol

Forget standard, boring beige umbrellas and liven up your garden this summer with a jolly, multi-stripe parasol, which will put all other awnings (as well as you) in the shade. The sturdy wooden pole makes it perfect for fixing over tables and sun loungers, while the attractive and bright deck chair-inspired colour scheme will bring a touch of blue-skies thinking, even when the outlook is grey.

How much: £30

From: John Lewis (08456 049049; www.johnlewis.com)

Portable hot tub

Garden swimming pools are a thing of the past now that personal spas are so easy to install and take up far less room. They aren't cheap but if you go for a portable product it won't cost as much as a full-scale version, nor do you need to have it permanently plumbed in. According to the manufacturers, The Haliburton portable hot tub, for example, can be installed in around 15 minutes but is more substantial than the inflatable spas on the market. It seats up to six people and will pummel and relax you with its 130 massage jets and aromatherapy unit. A lockable cover costs extra but will protect small children from falling in. Simply plug the spa into a standard socket fill it up and jump in.

How much: £1,690, lockable lid: £260 extra From: HOfun (0845 408 4976; www.h2ofun.co.uk)

Splash bats

Outdoor life is all about enjoying the sunshine and having fun and what could be better than a lively game of bat and ball? This colourful set looks ordinary but comes with a cunning twist – both the bats and ball are designed to absorb water, so that when each player strikes the ball everyone gets a complete soaking. A simple idea guaranteed to give hours of amusement. The packaging says suitable for kids aged three to six but you can bet it will appeal to adults too.

How much: £9.50

From: Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com)

Vine house

You don't have to grow vines in this cute little greenhouse, which has been created specially for those with limited garden space or awkward corners to fill. It won't make you totally self-sufficient but will enable you to try cultivating vegetables such as pot tomatoes and peppers, or simply start off your ornamental cuttings. Made from cedar wood and toughened safety glass, it measures 2.2m x 1.3m and is one of a range of attractive greenhouses from this independent manufacturer.

How much: £2,050

From: Gabriel Ash (0845 434 8897; www.gabrielash.com)