4 Ways to Protect Your Outdoor Furniture from Annoying Falling Debris

published May 18, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Everyone who lives in a place with outdoor space wants a beautiful set of outdoor furniture, but it’s difficult to spend good money on white cushions and decorative pillows when you know debris will just dirty it in a matter of weeks, if not days. Nature isn’t tidy, and you can only expect that your couches and chairs will be littered with a fine layer of dust, twigs, crunchy leaves, and whatever else your backyard can throw at it.

I live in a three-story apartment building, and since my unit is on the second level, my back porch has a roof. The only downside is that it’s made from wood and has slat openings, so all of the dust sprinkles down onto my patio set below. We’re also surrounded by trees — which is lovely — but that means that twigs and leaves fall on the table and chairs. 

Since it gets so messy so quickly, we don’t really use that space as much as we’d like, because no one feels like brushing off the debris just to drink a cup of coffee or sip a glass of wine. In an effort to make it a little more manageable this season, I researched how to protect outdoor furniture from falling debris. Here is what I learned, because something tells me I’m not alone on this one.

Invest In An Umbrella

Even if you have a balcony or back porch with an overhang, an umbrella will give you an extra layer of protection. When you’re not using your set, you can angle the umbrella to cover the balcony opening, stopping some of the debris from falling into your space. Or if you have a wooden porch, the umbrella will stop the upstairs soot from falling all over your cushions and rugs. My mom let me borrow an extra patio umbrella she had in her basement to test drive this option, and I really liked it! Thanks to its jaunty angle and cheerful stripes, it turned my back porch into a little cafe. I also like that it made the spot feel more intentional, since its shape carved out the nook from the rest of the staircase.

Get Patio Covers

One of my closest friends has a deck, and his backyard is flanked with trees. Because of that, his patio furniture is constantly littered with leaves. The easiest solution for him was to invest in an off-white outdoor cover (so it was still relatively aesthetically pleasing,) which he would then stuff into a giant wicker box by the couch when he took it off. It was simple, it caught all of the debris, and having a designated place to put it after removing it made the process less clunky. He didn’t have to fold it, and it wasn’t sitting crumpled on the deck floor like an eyesore. This is currently the solution I’m using, plus one extra preventative method. (See below!)

Get A Balcony Cover

If your HOA or landlord doesn’t restrict it, get a balcony cover to stop debris from falling into your outdoor space. You can leave it up when you’re not using the area (or want a little more privacy,) and take it down when you want to see the views or let more sunshine in. There are plenty of different screen styles to choose from on Amazon, but you can also get outdoor blinds to make the retraction easier or heavy outdoor curtains to draw shut. 

I personally like the curtain idea the best because it feels like it would require less fuss, but I’m not sure if this will work for my back porch since it will restrict my neighbors’ view. But if I had a standalone balcony, I would definitely do this.

Get An Outdoor Vacuum

So, I’ll be honest. I love using the cover when I know I’m not going to be stepping out onto the porch daily — like, say, during the work week on chillier months. But if the weather is warm and sunny and the weekend is nearing, I don’t want to take the cover on and off once or twice a day. So I leave a handy cordless handheld vacuum by the door, which I use to clean up any fallen debris or dust. Since that debris accumulated in the span of a few hours or a day, there isn’t much to clean. But it’s still easier to use than picking up leaves with your hands or shaking dirty pillows over the rail. 

If you get a ton of leaves and twigs, using a normal handheld vacuum won’t work. In that case, get an outdoor vacuum to pick up more debris without clogging. It’s a little clunkier, but you can easily store it by the door or in an outdoor cabinet or bench.

This piece is part of Get Outside Month, where we’re covering all things out-of-the-house, from curb appeal tips to al fresco hobby ideas. Whether you have a backyard, a patio, or 1 square foot of a fire escape. Head over here to read more!