The Many Moods of Garden Benches
Bench with a View
To make a garden bench worthwhile, all you really need is some open space and a view. But that's not where your bench-planning should stop. Read on to discover all the ways benches can add immeasurably to the pleasure you get from your home landscape.
How Dry I Am
After a view, a bench benefits most from a dry setting, especially if you want to be able to enjoy the bench year round -- which you should! Use an existing deck or patio, create a well-tamped gravel bed, or use paving stones to provide a dry and stable setting for your bench.
Lolling in the Shade
Sunshine is often pleasant, but too much of it is not a good thing. Your bench will be a more comfortable resting spot if you give it some shade. A deciduous tree is ideal, losing its cooling shade just as the weather turns nippy. Or make your own shade. This arbor provides a reasonable amount of cover for its benches; add a vine for even more seasonal protection and beauty.
Pretty Little Pillows
Thanks to an amazing new array of all-weather fabrics, outdoor seating can be just as comfortable and stylish as the indoor variety. Check out the cushions available at patio stores and garden centers, then use them to soften a bench. While you're at it, look for outdoor accessories like lights and heaters that can extend your hours of bench-warming enjoyment.
Benches can also serve as storage units. This one keeps potting supplies close to the house, but you might want to consider putting something similar near your garden to store commonly used tools. That way, you can rest while you sharpen a shovel. Look for storage benches in wood and durable plastics at most garden centers and many discount stores.
Adding Some Color
Besides comforting your back (and bottom), a bench can please the eye. Add color to an otherwise all-green setting with a bright-hued garden bench. You'll especially like the effect in winter.
Although you might think of wood or metal for your bench, other materials can be used to create a look that appeals to your personal sense of style. Here, rough-hewn stones were used to create a bench with an informal look.
Here's the same idea, but with a bit more formality. In this case, the builder used wall-building blocks and capstones, which can be purchased inexpensively at home centers. In addition to being quick to make, a bench like this isn't likely to be blown over anytime soon!
Touch of Whimsy
Another approach to masonry is the cast concrete bench. This bench has the added attraction of a touch of humor. The twin bears bearing the top are welcome guests in this shady garden spot.
Speaking of whimsy, this garden bench is another example of adding a personal style touch to the garden. Drilling a few large holes in an antique bench lets it double as a tool holder.
A Magnetic Bench
By giving some extra thought to where you place a bench, you can make it work twice for you. The designer of this landscape encourages you to experience the garden by placing the promise of a comfortable reward the far end.
Element of Surprise
In gardening, as in life, it's sometimes a good idea to keep a few cards up your sleeve. By secreting a bench off the beaten path, the designer of this landscape provides a welcome surprise to anyone who ventures down the grassy lane.
A Water View
A bench is a must-have accessory for any water feature. You'll enjoy a pond, fountain, or pool much more often if you put a comfortable resting spot nearby.
Another great spot for a bench is near a source of fragrance. Whoever sets a spell on this bench will soon fall under the influence of the intoxicating perfume of the nearby roses.
Narrow Bench for a Narrow Space
Sometimes space can be an issue when it comes to a bench. If you want a bench in a particular spot, but don't feel there's room, just think small. This narrow plank-topped bench hugs a path so it gets plenty of use, but doesn't encroach unduly on the garden.
A Bench in a Bed
No room at all? Add a small, decorative seat within a bed. This small-scale bench seems to be almost growing among the plants that surround it. The gentle curve of the seat helps the bench blend in smoothly with its natural surroundings.
Here's another example of blending the bench with the garden. In this case, however, the designer chose to craft the bench from the same flagstone used to create the path. Using the same materials in multiple ways creates a unified feeling in any landscape design.
Lyin' in Winter
Finally, don't think that a bench's utility has to end when the leaves start to fall. Regardless of season, a well-made bench adds to the garden, whether it's catching the first snowfall or providing a spot to enjoy the colors of autumn.