Ah joy! We can finally invite a friend or two round to enjoy an early evening glass of Pinot in the garden. But in your haste to sort out your wine and nibbles, don't forget that when the sun goes down (or fails to come out), you will need to make sure your guests can keep warm. Many turn to the best patio heaters, but with these selling out fast, we have rounded up the top buys to make sure everyone has a cosy evening alfresco – though we have a few last in stock patio heaters, too.
From the very obvious options of outdoor blankets or adding a heat source, to some simple shelters that can be constructed in far less time than a new summer house, you'll be able to keep warm in the garden, no matter your budget.
1. Plenty of outdoor blankets
The most affordable and eco friendly way to beat the chill outside is to have a good stock of outdoor blankets. They don't have to be waterproof or anything specifically designed for the garden – just gather a good range of throws to keep to hand.
They can subtly style your space too, adding comfort to your seating in the process. This author has a big basket of blankets in her lounge that she lugs outside for a day in the garden. The great thing is, those who feel the cold more than others can layer up more without having to up the heat from any fire pits or patio heaters. That way, everyone is happy.
Dunelm throws & blankets | From just £3 at Dunelm (opens in new tab)
Dunelm have a sale on meaning you can stock up on outdoor blankets from just £3. We love the tassled Farah Global Stripe throw, just £11 (opens in new tab) (pictured), but there are lovely sherpa fleece, teddy and faux fur options if you want to go for max snugness.
2. A cosy chiminea
Having a heat source is the 101 of keeping warm in the garden. The best chimineas are a fine option whatever style your garden is. There are some beautiful Mediterranean-style ones, or you can opt for something with an industrial edge like the one shown above.
Some come with grill inserts so you can cook as your stay nice and toasty, and with a range of sizes available, they are a safer option than fire pits if you are pushed for space.
3. Invest in a garden igloo
Enjoy the outdoors, whatever the weather, with a garden igloo dome. First used by the pub and bar trade to extend covered seating space, these are now available for residential use... as long as you have the space.
There are a few options out there and most can be packed away and stored with ease thanks to their flexible PVC outer. They have vents too, so if it should be sunny, you can let a bit of air in.
2.8m garden igloo | £900 on eBay (opens in new tab)
From a company called Social Bubble Pods, this garden igloo has been flying off the virtual shelves. At 2.8m diameter, it has a 10sqm base area so will take up a fair bit of space, but allows you to sit at comfort in shelter, even on a windy day as it can handle winds up to 50-62km/h when properly anchored.
4. Find a bargain patio heater (that is still in stock)
A popular sight in beer gardens (remember them?) and outside cafes on the continent, patio heaters have become the garden must-have of 2021 – and are selling out fast. They can be gas powered or use electricity to create focussed heat that will keep you warm.
The gas versions can be moved to any level surface in your garden, while electric versions need to be near an outdoor plug. Gas ones cannot be used under a covered space, but some electric ones can be fitted to the inside roof of your gazebo or pergola. See the best deals in stock below.
5. Keep it simple with a fire pit
The best fire pits will not only keep you and your family warm, but many double up as a barbecue too. They are a great focal point on your patio to gather around and with many options costing well under £200, an affordable choice, too.
Make sure you take care using one with children or pets nearby. A closed fire basket or chiminea might be more suitable in these instances. But there is a lot to be said for sharing a few beers by your fire pit with a mate or two – socially distanced of course.
6. Make shelter with a gazebo
Gazebos aren't just for protecting from too much sun or light rain – set one up to create an area shielded from cool breezes. With a little thought, this can become a lovely outdoor living space. First, layer with outdoor rugs to make it cosy and warm underfoot. Then add some barriers to the side using tall potted plants or by positioning it next a fence or garden building. Enclosing the area will help cocoon it further and some gazebos come with drapes or roll down wind-breaks for this purpose.
Add fairy lights for an atmospheric glow and take the opportunity to pile seating with blankets, cushions and other textiles, safe in the knowledge they won't get wet if the weather turns. It will result in an inviting garden room that you want to inhabit well after sundown.
See our pick of the best gazebos or shop the latest deals below.
7. Don't forget the kids – we love this hanging bell tent
Create a cosy den for the kids to retreat to with this stylish hanging bell tent from Cox & Cox (opens in new tab). It isn't just a practical place for them to seek some warmth when their play area is cast in shade, but also a fun addition to any garden, sure to spark their imagination. Be it their pretend castle, teepee, space ship or hidden lair, the tent can be packed up at the end of the day and is suitable for indoor use come winter.
And, if you think 'why should the kids get all the fun?', wait up – there is an adults version of this bell tent (opens in new tab), too!
Indoor Outdoor Hanging Bell Tent for kids | £595, Cox & Cox (opens in new tab)
This kids' bell tent comfortably fits two little ones and is made from anti-UV polycotton canvas so can be used both inside and out. It is marine grade and anti-mold too, so you know it is built to last.