The style of bench you choose for your garden is partly a matter of personal taste and partly a matter of function. Is its primary purpose a place to relax? Or are you using the bench to create a point of interest in the garden, something to draw people along to explore further? Whatever your objective, here are some tips to help you find the perfect garden bench.
Wood, Wicker, Metal or Concrete?
Different materials used to construct a garden bench work better with different styles of gardens. For example, wooden and synthetic “wicker” benches blend in subtly with the environment, whereas wrought iron benches create a nostalgic, historical feel. Concrete benches can be formal or casual depending on their style.
Wooden benches can be long lasting if made from cedar or acacia. Avoid over-harvested tropical woods like teak unless you can verify that the wood is plantation certified. Untreated woods will weather to a beautiful silver gray and may need a light sanding every few years to smooth down rough surfaces caused by aging. Oil treated woods should be re-sealed every 2-3 years to prevent drying and cracking.
Benches made with high-quality synthetic “wicker” are very durable and nearly maintenance free. Avoid benches and other furniture made from recycled plastic – they will break down faster from ultraviolet radiation.
Metal benches can be protected from rust with a light spray of clear metal protector, like Tremclad.
Is It Comfortable?
A garden bench should be comfortable if you plan to spend a lot of time sitting on it. Benches made from wood or synthetic “wicker” tend to be most comfortable as they are warm to the touch and have a bit of give. Metal benches can be made more comfortable with cushions. Concrete benches are probably the least comfortable, but sometimes a handsome concrete bench is exactly what you want as a focal point.
How to Site your Bench
Once you find a suitable spot, place your bench on level ground with the legs of the bench directly on top of gravel, stones or pavers. This will help keep it level and prevent the legs from rotting. You may also want to lay down a layer of gravel or stone in front of the bench to help drain water and prevent mud puddles from forming. Perch a bench on a knoll with a view or tuck it away in a quiet niche on your property as a special haven for solitude and privacy. Then just relax and enjoy it!