2021 is the year of the garden. Socialising outdoors is going to be a big part of our lives for the foreseeable. So we’ve picked out clever tech that will make the most of your outside space – whether that’s a garden, roof terrace or balcony.
Get ready to enjoy your own slice of the great outdoors to the max.
There’s nothing better than the smoky flavour of a proper charcoal barbecue. And there’s nothing more convenient than a gas barbecue that lights at the push of a button.
With the hi-tech Char-Broil Gas2Coal barbecue (from £369.99) you get the best of both worlds. It’s quick and easy to swap between fuels. Best of all, you can load it with charcoal but then use the gas on a low heat to light it, doing away with by far the most annoying part of charcoal barbecuing.
Choose two, three or four burners. All models have a lid with an integrated thermometer, a warming shelf and ample table space on both sides for food.
Available at Notcutts, independent garden centres and BBQ specialists.
Best garden projector
A garden cinema is the ultimate luxury in 2021: a place to safely socialise with friends. But there’s a lot of ambient light to compete with, especially in the summer when sunset is so late. So if you want to enjoy a movie outdoors, it’s worth considering a mains-powered laser projector that delivers a much brighter picture than rechargeable models.
Lasers cut through ambient light brilliantly. The Optoma ZW400 (£899.99) and Optoma HZ40 (£1,299.99, pictured, with a sharper Full HD picture) both deliver 4,000 lumens brightness. They’re compact and portable enough to use indoors or out for an impromptu movie or games night.
If you’re happy waiting till dark then a portable projector is even smaller and works anywhere, you don’t even need power. There’s a great compact Prima portable in our roundup of The best new gadgets and home tech for 2021.
Best outdoor screen
Indoors it’s easy to point your home cinema projector at a plain white wall, but in the garden you’ll need a screen. The Huanan 100-inch Projector Screen with Stand (£85.99) is specifically designed for outdoors.
The stand is nice and stable, plus you can pin the feet into the ground for further stability. It folds away into a carry bag when not in use, without the screen getting creased.
The screen’s high-gain surface makes for a brighter image: perfect for a garden cinema picture that’s watchable, despite ambient light. The 16:9 picture measures 100 inches diagonally.
Best garden bathing
Why settle for a paddling pool or an inflatable hot tub when you can have the real thing? An open-air bathroom lets you bathe under the sun and stars in style.
Plumbworld, the UK's second biggest online bathroom retailer, reports a growing market for outdoor bathrooms. It advises that it’s easy to install conventional bathroom products outdoors. You simply need to think about a hot water supply and effective drainage. We’d suggest privacy too: choose your space wisely.
Pictured are the Park Lane Oxford Double Ended Roll Top Bath (£299.97) and Park Lane Worcester Freestanding Bath / Shower Mixer (£169.99) which ably demonstrate how magical a bathroom in the open air can be. It’s the perfect home improvement if you’re planning a summer staycation.
Best solar lighting
Garden gadgetry doesn’t have to be expensive. These Solar Mason Jar Lights (£29.98) come as a three-pack, so they cost less than £10 per light.
Each jar contains 30 LED fairy lights. A solar panel on each lid recharges the AAA battery inside. And the whole thing is sealed and IP65 waterproof, so the lights can simply stay outside.
Decorate your patio table with light and stay out in the garden long into the night. Or there’s a wire loop handle for hanging them from a tree.
Switched off, they simply recharge. Switched on, they automatically turn on when it gets dark.
Best wireless speakers
Garden music and movies sound so much better when you stream wirelessly via Bluetooth rather than listen on a phone. And if you pick a rechargeable model then you can use it anywhere.
The Swedish-designed Audio Pro T3+ (£180) puts out powerful stereo sound and boasts a battery life of up to 30 hours. Handily, it also comes in a sturdy aluminium case with a stylish leather strap. It’s pictured in a limited edition lemon yellow finish that will bring a pop of colour to brighten up any garden or picnic. Just 300 of the limited edition colour are available worldwide.
Best garden office
Lockdown has seen more of us working from home than ever before... and more of us going up the wall thanks to lack of space. One solution is a garden office.
Billy Oh makes a range of log cabins suitable for home working in various sizes. Prices start at £1,595 for the BillyOh Mia Cabin, pictured. They’re constructed in solid interlocking tongue and groove cladding, are weather proof and come with an anti-rot guarantee.
The wooden build means your home wireless broadband signal should make it into your office fine. But consider adding double glazing and insulation for a cosier workplace year-round.
Best hi-tech furniture
New technology has transformed every aspect of outdoor living, even furniture. The Giga Lounger (from £63) is an innovative inflatable lounger that’s good for the garden, camping and more.
What sets it apart is that it’s self-inflating. You don’t need a separate pump or batteries. The integrated pump is rechargeable and can inflate the lounger in just 60 seconds at the touch of a button – it’s so simple, a child can do it. What’s more, its 2,600mAh battery doubles as a power pack: plug your phone into its USB socket to charge it while you lounge.
It’s splashproof and will float in a pool like a lilo fit for a king, keeping you above the water. Meanwhile, deflated the whole thing fits into a small enough bag to take to the park.