30 inspiring ideas for beautiful garden seating

August 5th, 2018
Posted In: Garden style & living, Garden trends & design, Middlesized country, Town gardens

Garden seating is so much more than just a place to sit.

A bench can be a focal point, work like a piece of sculpture, can punctuate a hedge or lawn or be a place to enjoy a view.  Garden seating can be about creating privacy or about entertaining friends and family.

Above all, garden seating is at the heart of the garden. But do we sometimes forget this? I’ve seen lots of gardens and their places to sit over the last year. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the benches, tables and chairs we choose make a huge difference to the garden.

You don’t have to spend lots of money

Some of our garden chairs were bought at auction by my mother, in the 1970s. We have had to repair them from time to time.

Vintage French chairs

Vintage chairs – £20 each from a depot vente in the South of France. But putting them on top of the car would have caused considerable wind resistance and a higher petrol cost. Depot ventes are second-hand warehouses – look them up if you’re in France.

We bought four French chairs in a depot vente in France, and drove back with them on top of the car. I suspect if you added the extra petrol cost of going from the South of France to England, then they weren’t such a bargain.

But auctions and junk shops can be a good source of garden furniture, especially if you think more about what the furniture is made of, than what it’s made for.

Use office furniture for garden seating

A friend of mine bought a second-hand glass and metal office table and uses it in the garden. Second-hand office furniture can be very cheap.

Use garden furniture colour to create atmosphere

The colours you use in your garden seating areas make a huge difference to the atmosphere you create.

Use colour in your garden seating

A design by Martyn Wilson at BBC Gardeners World Live. The bright orange table and chairs really creates a vivid splash in the garden. The atmosphere would be quite different if the garden furniture was in another colour.

Pink garden table and chairs

A dusky pink table and chair set in Yasmin Hossain’s courtyard. Her company, Juniper & Bliss, specialises in dying natural fabric with sustainable plant dyes. Really pretty.

A bleached-out Nordic grey garden bench

Wenche Imink uses ‘Wet & Forget’, a garden furniture cleaner, on her garden furniture to achieve a slightly bleached Nordic look. (links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy through them, but it won’t affect the price you pay. Other links are not affiliate.)

Grey painted swing bench to echo the grey roof tiles

Gardening writer Francine Raymond of Kitchen Garden Hens paints all her garden furniture either yellow or grey to go with the house, which is yellow brick and grey tiles. The pink cushions reflect the pink roses nearby.

Think about your bench when planting…

Or maybe it’s the other way round? Think about your planting when you’re deciding what colour bench or garden seating you want?

Think about planting and garden furniture together.

A pretty blue bench outside the back door at Doddington Place Gardens echoes the colour of the hydrangeas behind.

Red and orange flowers and garden bench

This bench in Whitstable Open Gardens was painted in red and orange stripes – exactly the shades of the flowers in the foreground. Was it a happy coincidence or planned?

Blue bench at Doddington Place Gardens

Another blue bench, blue hydrangea garden seating area at Doddington Place Gardens.

The planting echoing the bench colour at Sussex Prairie Gardens

A purple bench at Sussex Prairie Gardens. The benches at Sussex Prairie Gardens are inspirational in the way they set off the planting.

Garden furniture and architecture

You can reflect the architecture of your house in your garden seating area.

A Lutyens bench for a Lutyens house

The Salutation at Sandwich is designed by Edward Lutyens. Of course, the garden benches are Lutyens, too! If you can’t manage quite such an exact period match, Lutyens’ era was between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although a Lutyens bench would probably look good near any style of house.

Lutyens bench in a long thin town garden

This Lutyens bench in Mel and Emma’s garden (from Whitstable Open Gardens) makes a charming seating area near a patch of meadow grass. This is a long thin town garden behind a Victorian house.

Garden seating as a focal point

A bench or garden seating area makes a good focal point for a garden – or for an area of garden.

Garden seating as a focal point

Should you have a long avenue of trees – or any other part of the garden needing a focal point – then a bench offers both focal point and seating area. At Doddington Place Gardens

And you need a focal point or points in every size of garden. Pheasant Farm, below, is under an acre, but it has several different areas with benches as focal points.

Benches as focal points in smaller gardens

A garden bench as focal point in Pheasant Farm garden (open for the NGS by appointment).

Gothic-style garden bench

A very pretty Gothic-style bench in the front garden at Pheasant Farm, creating a focal point for the lavender.

Stone bench as focal point

We have two stone benches as focal points for the borders on either side of the parterre. They can get a bit overgrown to sit on, but I think the beds look better with a bench in the middle.

Garden seating as sculpture

Many garden benches are places to perch while enjoying a drink or a chat. They’re not necessarily for lounging on with a book. So you can risk an exciting-looking design to give your garden sculptural interest in the winter.

GArden seating as garden sculpture

My friend, Amanda, bought this bench by Sculpsteel to use both as garden seating and as a sculptural statement to enjoy looking at.

Sculptural garden seating

This beautiful wavy ‘bench’ can be viewed either as sculpture or as a place to sit.

Garden seating as storage

When space is short in a garden, then it makes sense to use the space under the benches for storage. It doesn’t always have to be built in or covered up.

Garden bench as log storage.

Garden designer Charlotte Rowe’s own garden, where she stores logs under a bench.

Use the space under the bench for storage

My brother Hugo and my sister-in-law Anna store things under their garden bench and table.

Built-in bench and storage

Or you can have built-in storage and seating, like this garden by AZ Landscaping Services at BBC Gardeners World Live.

Garden seating as part of the hard landscaping

I have seen some very successful garden seating which doubles up as part of the hard landscaping elements. People can perch on a broad edge to chat, but it doesn’t look particularly like a bench when no-one is around.

Raised bed edges as seating

Charlotte Rowe’s garden – the main image shows the garden without people, with white raised bed borders. The top image shows Charlotte’s guests using the border edging as a perch. A great way of maximising space in a small area!

Low walls are generally a good way of dividing up the space, offering a place to perch and also somewhere to leave drinks or snacks.

Rocky retainer wall as bench

This way of retaining stones inside a metal cage doesn’t look immediately welcoming as a place to sit, but it looked great at the Santa Rita 120 garden at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this year.

Upcycle leftovers into garden seating

When my brother, Hugo, and my sister-in-law, Anna, used railway sleepers for decking in their courtyard garden, they had some left over. They turned them into a simple garden bench (which is also a focal point).

Railway sleeper bench

Hugo and Anna’s railway sleeper bench. It has a mirror behind it.

More garden seating ideas

Solid wood bench

A solid piece of beautiful wood used as a bench in Dan Pearson’s Chatsworth Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2015.

A small bench to enjoy the view

You can fit a small simple bench in without disturbing a beautiful view. At Doddington Place Gardens

A quirky bench

A quirky ‘horses’ bench in the roof garden of the Ham House Hotel in London.

Mis-matched vintage garden chairs

A garden seating area with a collection of different chairs (pulled together with a pink theme).

Matching garden seating

Matched set of garden seating – this is Tom Hill’s garden design for Ascot Flower Show.

Space-saving minimalist chairs

Minimalist garden chairs – these tuck discreetly under the table because they have no arms and a sleek design. In the courtyard garden of Dan Cooper, blogger at the Frustrated Gardener.

And see the video

Pin to remember garden seating options:

For a free weekly email with more tips, ideas and inspiration from the Middlesized Garden, click here. And there is more garden inspiration on the Middlesized Garden YouTube channel, with a new video every week.

30 inspiring ideas for garden seating

2 comments on "30 inspiring ideas for beautiful garden seating"

  1. Maggie Morish says:

    Most of the time, I have friends who come over especially during summer. I have a small and humble garden so I had to make sure that I maximise every bit of space. The solution I came up with was raised garden beds and the borders make a great alternative to actual seats. I also had a small vintage table placed in the centre for eating, drinking, and everything else in between.

    Excellent post! I’ll be sure to go back to this post when I decide to do a make-over in my garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

33 − = 24