One of the great things about summer is the warm weather that is perfect for outdoor meals or even just sitting and reading outside. But warm weather can also be one of the drawbacks of summer, since hot sun can cause sunburns and eyestrain, not to mention discomfort. A garden parasol offers a brilliant compromise between these two facets of summer weather. Under the protective shade of a parasol, laptop screens are easier to see, books do not strain the eye, and the air is just the right comfortable mix of warm and cool. A parasol can even be useful underneath a shade tree, since it protects keyboards and uncovered drinks from bits of vegetation or worse that might be dropping from a tree. Before buying a garden parasol and planting it in the back yard, however, it is helpful to know what one is looking for. Armed with an overview of the different types of garden parasol available, along with some tips on choosing a parasol and finding and buying it on eBay, the shopper is ready to go.
Types of Garden Parasols
Choosing a parasol is not a complicated process, but there is more than one kind. Garden parasols differ from each other mostly by how and where they can be placed, what they are made of, and whether they are adjustable. Size is also a consideration, of course, since a parasol must be large enough to cast enough shade but small enough to fit in the available space.
Where a Parasol Goes
Garden parasols come in two broad types: those that are mounted to a wall and those that stand on a table or the ground. The advantage of a wall-mounted parasol is that it takes up less space. The disadvantage is that it is limited in where it can go.
What a Parasol is Made Of
Garden parasol frames can be made of any of several types of wood or any of several types of metal, usually aluminium. Natural or synthetic fabric forming the rest of the canopy, with the actual type of cloth a less important consideration than whether it is waterproof and fade-resistant. Wooden frames are usually varnished and so stand up well to both rain and sun. Wood has an attractive, elegant appearance. It is also lightweight, which can be a problem in the wind. Metal frames are heavier and so stand up better in the wind, and they often come painted in any of several attractive colours. Metal does corrode in the weather, and the corrosion can then damage the fabric as well; it also can also become dangerously hot in the sun.
Turning and Directing a Parasol
Some parasols are designed to tilt so they can be adjusted for the shifting angle of the sun. Cantilever parasols take this adjustability one step further; instead of being supported by a central pole from below, they are suspended from above by an adjustable arm. These can be moved to match the angle of the sun and can also be moved to cover one area of the garden or the other.
Caring for a Garden Parasol
Garden parasols are relatively low-maintenance, but they are not maintenance-free. They must be protected from unnecessary damage from weather, kept clean, and, if necessary, repaired. Taking good care of a parasol will help it last much longer and give more dependable service for many summers.
Protecting and Storing
Garden parasols are designed to be used outdoors, but that does not mean one should leave them outdoors all the time. Rain, sun, and wind all gradually damage the parasol over time. A garden parasol should be stored indoors any time it is not likely to be used, such as in the winter, when its owner goes away on holiday, or when severe weather is expected. When not in use, parasols should be left closed so that they are less likely to be caught and damaged in the wind that comes up. Once a garden parasol gets wet, it should be left open in the sun to dry. Putting away a parasol wet will cause it to mould and mildew.
Garden parasols also get dirty. Birds do what birds do while flying overhead, dust and grit blow in and stick to the fabric, and mildew grows on the ribs and fabric during periods of persistent rainy weather. Even during storage a parasol can get dirty, thanks to dust, spiders, mildew, and sometimes even mice. A clean parasol not only looks better, it also lasts longer. Mould can even be a health hazard, and its musty odour is objectionable to many.
The different parts of a parasol have their own care instructions, which should be followed. The parasol frame can be wiped down using wood or glass cleaner, depending on what the frame is made of. Usually, the fabric can be removed from the frame and machine washed or spot-cleaned using warm, soapy water and a cleaning brush. The brush should be soft, as stiff bristles may tear the fabric. Both mould and mildew are alive and must be killed rather than simply washed away or any remaining particles will simply regrow. A mild bleach and detergent solution or a mixture of vinegar, soap, and hot water and scrubbing with a soft brush will both work. Never use vinegar and bleach at the same time; these two ingredients, mixed, form a toxic gas. Rinse both fabric and frame with a low-pressure spray, put the fabric back on the frame and open the parasol to allow it to dry. Parasols that do not come apart can be cleaned using a colour-safe bleach solution and a gentle water spray.
Sooner or later, most garden parasols sustain some damage, but this is no reason to get rid of them. Fabric can tear and ribs can break, but parasols can be repaired. One can sew ripped fabric with a double-threaded needle; if the rip is a long one, fabric glue in addition to sewing provides added strength. Broken ribs can glued as well. One should choose the appropriate glue for the rib material, wood or metal, and allow the glue to dry completely before wrapping the joint with heavy-duty tape, securing it with a hose clamp (snug, not too tight) and another layer of tape. The tape can then be painted to match the colour of the rib.
Buying a Garden Parasol and Related Items
With a good idea of what kinds of parasols are available, one is ready to bring this information together to choose and purchase a particular garden parasol. There are also several other items that can be used with garden parasols, such as lights and tables.
Choosing a Garden Parasol
An important consideration is how big a space this parasol is going to shade and how small a space the parasol must fit into. If the 'garden' in question is actually a small balcony, for example, then clearly the parasol must be small. Conversely, a buyer who wants to shade the whole family must have a very large parasol, possibly more than one. A parasol that cannot be adjusted for the angle of the sun must be bigger than one that is adjustable. Cantilever parasols can be smaller because, without a central pole, there is more space underneath for people.
Another consideration is how this parasol is going to be raised and lowered. Options include manual raising, a single- or double-pulley system, or a hand crank. A small person might find manually raising a very large parasol difficult and should make a different choice. Ideally, one should choose a garden parasol that is easy to clean and has a base heavy enough to keep the whole thing from tipping over in the breeze. A second, equally important, protection against wind damage is to get a parasol with a series of vents around the top. The vents should be covered with a fabric flap that prevents wind from catching the parasol from the underside but also prevents rain from leaking in through the top.
Appearance, of course, is another factor, with many different colours and patterns available. A garden parasol should coordinate or complement other garden furniture; if possible, it is also advisable to buy all the garden furniture at the same time. Anything left outside in the sun will gradually fade to some extent, and buying all the garden furniture at once means all of it will fade together and continue to match with age. One non-faded piece tends to make faded items nearby look worse by comparison.
Garden Parasol Accessories
Besides the garden parasol itself, there are several accessories that are useful, or even necessary. The most important of these is the base, a heavy weight into which free-standing parasols fit. A table with a hole in the centre for a parasol cannot function as a base because it is neither low enough nor heavy enough to keep the parasol from tipping over. Parasol bases can be made of iron or weighted with water or sand. Bases can also stabilise themselves with darts or stakes, or they can be tubes that fit into the ground and are even with the surface when not in use. A parasol cover, used to protect a garden parasol from the elements when not in use, is also important, though not so necessary as a base.
Other accessories include tables, lights, and heaters. Heaters hang from the centre of the parasol or attach to the pole; however, since heat rises, these might not do as much to extend the outdoor reading season as would a good jumper. Lights also hang from the underside of the parasol, allowing one to continue reading after the sun goes down. Besides the full-sized tables designed to accommodate a parasol in the middle, there are smaller tables that attach to the pole of a garden parasol, ideal for setting down drinks, a book, or a pair of reading glasses.
How to Buy a Garden Parasol on eBay
Garden parasols, bases, tables, lights, heaters: all of these items can be found on eBay. To browse through garden parasols, just type "garden parasols", without the quotation marks, into the search box and use the menu options to narrow down the results, filtering by condition, price, size, colour, or other characteristics. One may also use the "Advanced Search" option to look for a very specific item.
The key to buying anything through eBay is to read through the listing carefully before buying. Misreading even one word could result in buying the wrong thing by mistake. It is also a good idea to look up the seller's feedback score and the details of his or her return policy, both of which are listed on the seller's profile page. Buying a garden parasol on eBay is not difficult, but a few tips on how to navigate the site and how to negotiate the purchasing process make for more efficient, and enjoyable, shopping. A great place to start looking is in the Home & Garden section of eBay.
One of the best places for one to enjoy the warm days of summer weather is under the shade of a garden parasol. Equally protected from harsh sun and surprise rain showers, one can relax in peace outdoors in the fresh summer air. The first step in the purchase of a garden parasol is to decide whether one needs a parasol that is wall-mounted or one that stands on a table or on the ground. Another consideration is materials: garden parasols can have either metal or wood frames, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The fabric must be waterproof and fade-resistant, but otherwise allows for a great deal of choice in terms of colour and pattern. Cleaning, and even repairing, and parasol are not difficult; much of a garden parasol's care is prevention. Once a person has a good idea of the kind of variety out there, buying a garden parasol on eBay is quick and easy.