Which Parasol For Me? A Garden Parasol Buying Guide
A parasol is simply a big umbrella for your garden, right? It serves to block the sun, offering a bit of shade and nothing more complex than that? Not quite, no. There are actually a good few variations available when you’re buying a parasol for your garden, from size and material to tilt and base. It can be overwhelming knowing which garden parasol to choose, so LOFA have put together a simple parasol buying guide which can help you to decide which parasol is right for you this summer, taking into account all of the possible variables.
The Three Basic Types of Garden Parasol
There are essentially three variations of parasols, even just in relation to how it stands in your garden. Disregarding wall-mounted parasols for the sake of this article, you have these main, distinct styles of parasol:
An upright parasol is arguably the most common; this features a base and a straight pole which leads to the centre of the parasol shade. These are popular choices for situations such as cafe courtyards where the parasol will be put through a hole in the centre of a garden table, shading the table from the middle. Similarly, it could be the perfect choice for you if you have an outdoor dining table with a hole in the middle, if you are not planning on moving the table and parasol often or at all.
A tilting parasol is a popular choice for those who want more flexibility with their parasol use. A tilting parasol is able to be angled, meaning you can edit the direction of your parasol and therefore your shade. These are less commonly used by placing them in the hold of outdoor tables, as tilting it will minimise the amount of seats that can be used, although it is still possible.
An offset garden parasol, or cantilever parasol, offers arguably the greatest amount of flexibility, as the shade of the parasol extends out sideways from the pole so that you and your loved ones can sit directly under it without a pole in the middle affecting your seating arrangements. This means that whether you’re simply lounging on your lawn, or have a full outdoor dining table set up, you can place your offset parasol to the side and still receive shade.
Regardless of the type of parasol that you opt for, finding the correct base for your garden parasol is of paramount importance. This will ensure that you parasol does not fall or blow over in adverse conditions, or simply from a light breeze if the base is very wrong!
The materials that are most commonly used for parasol bases are wood, plastic, resin, concrete, cast iron, and granite. Generally, weight is the deciding factor when choosing the right parasol base – but keep in mind what parasol style you have, too. For example, a cantilever or offset parasol will typically have a cross base which you then will want to weigh down. You’re able to weigh down these cross-feet using concrete. Depending on the existing base, you will want to choose a parasol base to compliment.
The lighter materials, including resin which will be weighted with sand or water, are generally sufficient for a relatively small, round, upright parasol. However, if you will be choosing a larger parasol or a heavier one due to mechanisms such as a tilting ability, you will want to be searching for a base in the heavier concrete, cast iron, or granite. However, if your parasol will fit into your table, a heavier base is not so paramount.
A circular parasol is what likely comes to mind when picturing your garden umbrella. An ever-popular choice, this is not your only option, although you may decide that a circular parasol is what best suits your personal preference and aesthetic.
An alternative to your standard circular parasol is one with a rectangular shade. Although not as common, a rectangular parasol shade actually gives more shade coverage as it spans a larger area. Not only this, but they typically are made sturdier, meaning they are best equipped to withstand strong winds without toppling.
The size of garden parasol that is best for you could vary greatly, depending on how you picture using your outdoor space. Sizes range from as small as 2 metres, which is about right for a small garden table with two people being covered, to 4 metres or more. Regular garden parties and gatherings would justify purchasing a parasol of at least 3 metres in size. Having too much coverage rather than too little is always best, however, keep in mind that the larger your parasol is, the heavier it is likely to be. If you envisage yourself moving your seating area and outdoor parasol quite regularly, keep this in mind when deciding on your parasol size.
Your parasol can serve far more of a purpose than simply providing an area of shade. Protecting you from the sun and its harmful UV rays is just one use; the garden parasol can also be a handy shelter from rain if you pick the material right. In England, we have to expect showers as much as a sun tan. It’s best to keep this in mind when choosing your parasol; although you may be picturing only using it during scorching summer weather, an unexpected shower could move you and your loved ones inside if you don’t have a good shelter.
Parasols made from synthetic materials will generally have been made to be water-repellent, giving you good cover during an unexpected drizzle. As an alternative to canvas, these style of parasols are often cheaper and more lightweight, meaning that for practicality they are a great option. However, many people simply prefer the aesthetic of canvas, making it a continuously popular option. Canvas shades are water-resistant but they protect you from the rain by soaking it up themselves, making them prone to damp. The choice of parasol material, therefore, becomes a matter of personal preference based on the look you would like to achieve and the care that you are willing to put in.
Picking your perfect garden parasol all comes down to deciding just how you want your parasol to be used. Whether you’re looking for a sturdy table-parasol, or instead want a large canopy-style parasol tilted towards your sun lounger, the choice is yours. You don’t want to rush this big purchase, as the parasol that you choose will impact the way you use your garden and outside seating areas.