It’s as if we’re so busy “doing” in the garden that we can’t enjoy “being” in the garden.
I caught myself in this very trap a couple of years ago. I would spend hours and hours on the weekend planting, weeding, digging and then head indoors to sit down. But the realization that I wasn’t enjoying the beauty that I created coupled with my growing need to pace myself and rest from time to time during my work, made me incorporate more seating areas into the garden.
This year, I’m improving on the seating in the front of the house where we have a sweeping view of the hay field and will, I hope, be able to watch the aerial acrobatics of the purple martins. As I looked for ideas for the new seating area, I realized that I seem to have spent quite a lot of time taking pictures of garden seating in my travels. So I share them with you here along with ideas on some features of garden seating that I think make them successful.
Seating should be planned and incorporated into the garden. It’s just fine and dandy to drag out some lawn chairs when extra seating is needed. But if you need to do that whenever the mood strikes you to park your bottom and enjoy the view, it’s quite likely that you won’t sit down at all.
Create places away from the house as well as close to the house. A carefully chosen seating location can provide a focal point that draws your eye and invites you to explore further.
Seating should be sturdy and not tippy. It’s no fun to have to perch yourself on a tiny stool or spindly chair. Providing a base of pavers under the legs of your seating will give needed stability and also protect wood from the moist ground.
Seating should be weather proofed and easily cleaned. Hard surfaces such as concrete or wood are easily hosed down or even power washed in the spring or when needed. I also like the new all-weather wicker made from plastic-wrapped wire that is available from Restoration Hardware. Hardly anyone knows it’s not traditional wooden wicker. The cushions are from the Sunbrella fabric, so if I forget to bring them in during a rainstorm, there’s no harm done.
Whatever you choose should be appropriate to the garden setting. A Zen garden will call for a more streamlined design, while a rustic, bent wood bench would be more at home in a quirky garden or a more free-flowering English cottage garden.
Don’t feel like everything has to match. Different types of seating grouped together can be charming when chosen with a unity of theme in mind. We have different styles of
Include little tables or other features to hold a drink or small plate of food. Chinese stools, cut wooden logs or other re-purposed or found objects will be appreciated when you’re nursing a cold glass of tea and trying to read a book at the same time.
So take a seat and make time to enjoy all the work you do.
Resources to Try
Arthur Lauer – Previously known as Wood Classics. Benches, chairs, dining tables and outdoor accessories. An extensive line of quality teak products.
Walpole Woodworkers – In addition to a wide variety of garden seating, Walpole Woodworkers sells all types of garden accessories and fences. This is where I bought my white picket garden fence.
Restoration Hardware – High quality outdoor seating, including all-weather wicker and iron. If you can wait until the end of summer, these products go on sale for about 20% off the listed price.
Country Casual – Another excellent resource for teak outdoor furniture.
Summer Classics – All-weather wicker, cast aluminum and wood furniture.
And closer to home, don’t forget to look here:
Amish builders – Often very basic designs, but made with quality materials. And there are no shipping charges!
Garden centers – You may find some bargains, although you’ll likely find what everyone else has.
Antiques stores and thrift stores – No telling what you’ll find. Often, you can re-purpose old wood or iron furniture, particularly if it’ll be in a covered location.