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In choosing a garden hammock, first consider where you plan to use it. Most garden hammocks are suspended in one of two ways. The traditional garden hammock is suspended at the head and foot by a support such as a tree or post, using cord or rope. Freestanding or self-standing garden hammocks include a wood or metal frame and don't require external supports. If your location does not offer convenient suspension points, a freestanding garden hammock might be your best choice.
Garden hammocks are found in a wide range of designs and materials. The spreader-bar style has wood or metal bars at the head and foot that make getting into the hammock easier. This design, however, is considered less stable and comfortable for sleeping. Freestanding hammock stands are also available for purchase separately that will support both spreader-bar and other hammock designs.
Traditional Mayan and Nicaraguan hammocks are made of colorful string or nylon that create a net to support the user. Mayan designs are typically woven more loosely than Nicaraguan hammocks. The degree of support results from the density of the strings and the weaving technique used. These designs offer unhampered ventilation and work well in very hot climates. Another advantage is their ability to easily contract and expand to fit the occupant.
Brazilian-style hammocks are typically made using solid cotton fabric that is stronger and more supportive than string designs. They are considered among the most comfortable garden hammock designs, but they lack the ventilation of string-type hammocks. With their solid cloth bottoms, Brazilian-style garden hammocks are less prone to snag than string designs.
Jungle or Venezuelan hammocks are usually made with durable synthetic netting. These hammocks typically come with non-stretch suspension ropes. They are intended to accommodate the sleeper along its length, as opposed to other designs in which the occupant sleeps across the hammock.
Modern garden hammocks can be found in many shapes and designs that suit various tastes and locations. If you intend to leave your hammock up for extended periods, one made from synthetic materials is likely to prove more durable. If you live in a damp, humid climate, hardware corrosion might be a problem. Shop for models that have rust-proof or wood fittings. If the hammock will be exposed to a lot of sunlight, look for models that employ fade-resistant materials.
Another factor to consider is the weight, height and number of occupant who will use the hammock simultaneously. Many retailers offer single, queen size, king size and super king size garden hammocks. The largest models are designed to support several occupants who collectively weigh more than 1,000 pounds (272 kg). If the intended occupants are tall, shop for a garden hammock that has a "bed" that is at least 90 inches (229 cm) long.
Finally, if your space for a hammock is limited, consider buying a hammock chair or hammock swing that provides the same soothing motion as a traditional garden hammock. They can be found in designs intended to be hung from a single support. They also are available as freestanding models that include a stand.
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