Garden Heating

How To Heat Your Garden

A warming al fresco experience

If you want to make the most of your patio or decking this summer, don’t restrict yourself to entertaining on sunny afternoons. This useful outdoor space is great for barbecues & relaxing with family & friends so why not enjoy it all year round by adding a warm & inviting source of heat so that you can take advantage of cool evenings or cold wintry afternoons.

However you decide to heat your outdoor space it will be made a little easier if it is more enclosed and less affected by prevailing winds. Consider having some sort of wind break around the perimeter such as potted shrubs or lattice screens that can be moved when necessary. Make the setting cosier by having plenty of cushions and provide soft blankets for everyone to wrap up if it gets chilly

There are lots of alternatives for heating your patio or decking such as patio heaters, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits & Chimineas & we carry a large selection in stock.

Patio heaters offer a clean and easy to maintain outdoor heating solution. Electric patio heaters are easy to use as they just need to be plugged in to an electricity supply. They use halogen or infrared heat sources and need to be fitted with a tilt cut-off switch if they are free standing.

Outdoor fireplaces can be built to your own design to fulfil your needs & the space you have. This makes it more of a project but it will provide a warm welcoming centrepiece which you can use for both heating & cooking. The alternative to a static fireplace would be a fire pit or brazier; they come in all shapes & sizes but can be moved around your outdoor space to suit or may be built into the centre of a table as a focal point. Weber make a very popular & aesthetically pleasing fireplace which is manufactured from heavy-gauge steel coated with porcelain enamel that will not rust, fade or burn.

Chimineas are attractive patio features which originate from Mexico; they have a tall slim chimney to take away smoke & ash plus a bulbous body which is accessed from the front for heating & cooking. They are quick & easy to install on your patio or decking, just needing a level, fire resistant surface on which to sit, & can be moved around according to weather conditions or the number of guests. Specially designed protection pads are a good idea, these heavy duty mats protect the surface from embers and ash keeping your deck or patio looking as good as new.

Choose a chiminea that will complement the look and feel of your patio, we have a wide choice in stock. The traditional Mexican clay chimineas come in a variety of colours & sizes with a separate support stand which may also include work tables for cooking. There are even some that are portable enough to take camping or to the beach, when the chimney can be removed to provide the ideal barbecue surface. Chimineas, especially clay types, need to be seasoned before regular use - this involves heating them up little & often to harden the inside, strengthening it to prevent cracking. Cast iron & steel chimineas make a great statement on the patio from the traditional pot bellied design to more modern sleek shapes. They come with a protective guard and a variety of cooking accessories are available from the humble swing out barbecue grate to pizza stones & popcorn poppers!

There are a number of different fuels that you can burn in your chiminea from ordinary logs and charcoal to specially compressed logs made from recycled sawdust. Use firelighters or fire logs (compressed fibre with wax) to start your fire or, if you want to be authentic, use a natural firelighter such as Ocote which is a fragrant pine wood with a high resin content that the Mayan people in Central America use. You can also use aromatic woods such as Apple, Hickory or Mesquite wood that will impart a fragrant odour whilst burning or an aromatic flavour to your cooking.

Heating your patio or decking will also add to the beauty & ambience of your outdoor ‘room’, it doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate but one thing it does need to be is safe, so you will benefit from planning ahead. Think carefully about where you are going to place your heater, make sure that you have enough space between the heat source and your furniture, awning, parasol or trees and bushes especially if there is a breeze. Also take care to avoid placing the heater too close to the house, the stone or brickwork will probably be okay but UPVC window frames, gutters and drainpipes may not. Remember that once lit your heater will probably be too hot to move!

Also consider whether there are any restrictions on having open fires in the area you live & where you are going to store fuel for them. It is worth having a fire extinguisher, bucket of water or hose at hand in case any accidents occur as well as a pair of heavy duty gloves. A set of tools including a poker, tongs, brush and shovel will also make it easier to maintain a fire & if there are pets or small children around it is worth investing in a fire guard.

You will probably need somewhere sheltered & dry to store the fuel it uses & to over-winter the heater. Covers are available to keep the worst of the weather off but it is worth storing your heater away from the extreme temperatures & high winds prevalent over the winter. Clay chimineas will definitely benefit from indoor storage as they are susceptible to moisture and cold which may make them crack. Care must be taken when moving your chiminea as the base & chimney are constructed separately then often fused or dried together, depending on the material used, making this a weak point.

Whichever method you choose to heat your outdoor space you will be creating a warm, ambient environment for sipping hot chocolate & stargazing - make the most of it this year, whatever the weather!

Julie Parker
My interest in gardening & wildlife stemmed from childhood days spent working in the garden with my parents & reading books on anything from robins to giraffes. As time has moved on these influences have stayed with me inspiring the creation my own garden & leading to interests in fish keeping & the natural world around me. I still love to read & hope that the knowledge I gain will make topical reading through these articles.