The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
HOW TO LOOK AFTER
Proper garden antiques are not cheap, so make sure they’re protected from intruders, insured and protected over winter (gardenfurniturecovers. com sell a good-looking range of protective covers in various shapes and sizes).
When buying wooden garden furniture, concentrate on hardwoods – teak and oak – not pine, because even if it is varnished or painted, it won’t last outside. Keep special purchases out of direct sunlight and lightly brush away any debris that falls on to them regularly.
Check each spring that pieces are still safe to sit on. I have an ancient swing seat that we test gingerly every season, replacing the wooden slats and occasionally re-welding the metal frame.
Look after metalwork and brush off rust and debris. Paint with metal primer if the paintwork is not salvageable (although Sophie Norton says to just let items rust away: patina is everything).
Terracotta and stone should be encouraged to age well with lichen and aged patina, but cover any terracotta that may not be frost-proof. If you don’t like that aged look, Haddenstone, Chilstone and Coalbrookedale sell reproduction designs in modern materials.
Drill drainage holes in metal containers or use a Phillips screwdriver and a mallet. Line metal containers with polystyrene sheet to insulate before you plant.
Garden and Wood suggest the best way to look after old tools is to use them. They also quote to repair and replace tools and handles. Never, ever leave them out in the garden and always brush off dirt after use. Once a year, give them a beeswax polish for sheen without shine.