Seating Spots: The Well Placed Bench

Ilona Erwin

The message of any group of seats or well placed benches is that a garden is a place to rest, relax, and enjoy. Every hard working gardener needs to take a breather and we all should take some time to sit and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

A Quiet Spot To Sit

Entire backyards may be dedicated to the concept of meditation and quiet, but I think every truly well designed space requires at least one spot that is primarily centered around a sense of rest and serenity.

bench under the lilac

bench under the lilac

Take a look at a Serenity Garden

A popular idea that is used in many gardens and parks is the bench under a sheltering bower of green leafy branches or vines. Tucked under an arbor, within a pergola, or next to the shade tree, this restful seating is the perfect place to enjoy birdsong, flitting butterflies, and the scent of roses on the air.

The Inviting Patio Bench

My husband and I have been particularly enjoying the deck with its cozy seats, patio table and umbrella. Whether chatting over cool evening drinks,  enjoying a grilled meal, or just a morning cup of coffee alone, this is one highly valuable landscape feature that gets used almost every day. (In pleasant weather, of course!)

The best way to take advantage of such a place outdoors is to list the desired features (i.e. place to eat and entertain, solitary getaway, quiet and out of the way or front and center to the door,etc).

Be aware of sun and shadow, whether there is a pocket of warmth during springtime or if heat might make an area uncomfortable. Do strong winds blow? Perhaps some thought to creating a microclimate through the use of fencing, or hedges is a necessary preparation.

Pure Entertainment Is The Raison D’etre Of A Fire Pit
fire pit

Firepit project

Like the patio seating, this is usually meant for gatherings and entertaining. Our creation of a fire pit area came late, but turned out to be a seating spot that created just such a quiet and peaceful respite as the other garden seating ideas mentioned here.

The full story of our fire pit.

Whether using chairs, or benches, or even simple log seats, gathering around a fire has been an age old pastime of human beings. We are drawn to the warmth, the ever changing dance of the flames and the kinship we feel in such circumstances.

Project: Make A Firepit

Which Type Of Seat?

There are pros and cons to consider… the ease of inexpensive and movable seats, or permanent fixtures such as stone or wooden benches?

Some are comfortable, while other types collect rain and leaf debris. Stone is expensive, but the most durable. Wooden seats are priced right and come in wonderful architectural designs, but they can weaken, and I have had even teak break with time. Metal is one material I always find uncomfortable.

Your decision all depends on your budget and other factors of look (plastic chairs don’t make nearly the focal point of a Lutyens wooden bench), weathering, and what exactly you wish to feel when sitting in a seat.

This is why it makes sense to give some planning to areas of where and what when designing the seats and gathering areas of the yard. It embodies the whole meaning of the word “well-placed“.

I must confess that I used very little forethought in my own making of such spaces. They sort of grew organically from coveted garden furnishings or the temporary constructions which gave birth to inspiration for something more permanent.

An example is the fire pit conversation spot of recent construction.  Originally we gathered around the “burn pile” with logs (that got wet and favored spots for insects), then old milk crates turned upside down. Soon we were lugging lawn chairs out to the field (which needed to be lugged back towards the house afterwards).

From these often inauspicious beginnings, the outline of an actual landscape plan began to form. Locating a spot, laying simple paver platform, and purchasing the fire bowl. It taught me the value of laying out the plans in advance, and that is the advice passed on in these ideas.

I have rather haphazardly collated these varied spots around my garden. When one works out particularly well, it remains and I tend the garden around it.

Don’t Wait

For you, this could mean a coordinated set of furnishings for the garden, or you may have the makings of a patio setting, and just need inspiration to gather it all together into the special design that you always longed for.

Get out the paper and pencil, or pull up your phone app and begin your list of the best place, the dreamed-of uses, and what you might already have on hand for setting up your seating spots.

Make a restful retreat steps away from your door. It may be one of the most worthwhile investments you make in your yard.

Good Places For A Bench

  • Near a water feature
  • In the kitchen garden
  • A sheltered spot with a view
  • Near the flower borders
  • Under a large shrub ( I use our old lilac)
  • Under a garden tree
  • Within the herb garden
  • By the fire pit
  • At the end of a path

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.