As I pull into the driveway of an old friend, I look fondly at the welcoming bench in her front yard. Although I’ve never seen her sit on it, over the years the bench has held her purse, her groceries, and me. It is often the place I choose to wait for her if I arrive to pick her up for an afternoon outing before she is ready; more than just a place to sit, garden seating affords me the opportunity to enjoy her garden from a different perspective. Outdoor seating can be a cheerful, inviting touch that also provides functionality.
A bench like my friend’s, for example, becomes a focal point that adds to the home’s curb appeal, makes for a handy place to gather goods, and of course, is a place to sit a spell, either coming or going. When a table and chairs are a part of your garden décor, you can take advantage of outdoor seating by dining al fresco.
In general, seating outside can be placed anywhere a respite might be welcome. With the right consideration, you can plan places to sit in your garden that will both look attractive and serve as a place where you will be able to sit and admire the view.Your available space will help define your placement choices.
Areas that are private are good places to consider adding garden seats. Review the different parts of your garden, and ask yourself what seating areas you can provide and how many people they can hold. Small, intimate areas are perfect for a secluded retreat. The large, more open spaces are ideal for seasonal soirees. Most people will gravitate to seats that offer a sense of security. Placing a bench or a pair of chairs against the side of a building, fence, or hedge will give the seating a cozy and inviting feel.
When placing seating in the garden, make the transition seamless by adding plantings to soften the edges. Surround the seats with containers, or put them under a tree. Make sure the seating is accessible and welcoming. Create your resting place next to fragrant plants or in areas with seasonal colors. Relate the bench to its surroundings, echoing your home’s style and color; a white painted bench is the perfect choice for a home with white trim and a white picket fence. The further your seats are from your house, the less true you need to stay to your home’s style.Sitting changes a person’s perspective. Every view will be looked at with different eyes at a lower level. Arrange the seating so there is something interesting to look at, or place your seating off in the distance to serve as a destination. This destination could be the end of a journey around the garden or a place to pause and take in the fruits of your labor.
The hectic pace of everyday life slows when you are in a garden. Taking time to leave your day behind is easier when your favorite chair is actually in the back yard. Sit for a moment to listen to the sounds of the garden abuzz with life or to watch the blooms in the setting sun. Whether it is a simple bench that beckons you for a sit or a pair of chairs comfortably arranged in a garden bed, outdoor seating allows you time amongst the flowers to relax alone or share with a friend. Well-placed seating serves multiple purposes, making it the perfect accent to the garden—even if, as a busy gardener, you never have time to sit.
In my early days of gardening, I only added a bench or chair as an accent and in the off-chance I might actually sit there. For that reason alone, seating is worth adding to the garden setting. But as my garden matured, and I along with it, those seats became something to explore. Now you will find me sitting in any of the eight seating areas (not counting the covered porch). My seats range from a solitary chair to an antique metal glider for a respite or a change in perspective. It’s amazing how different the garden looks when you are sitting instead of standing.