Think Garden, Think Richard: Garden Seating

This month I want to investigate garden seating and how to use it in the garden. The garden is a great place of refuge from our busy lives, somewhere to relax in peace and quiet or simply enjoy spending times with friends and family. Garden seating can be a good way of making us stop and rest for a moment and enjoy our outdoor space.

Tree seats are a good way of making a focal point out of a specimen tree in the garden. They can be full circles around a tree or even half circles look good too. Often made of wood they can range from very ornate, intricate designs to simpler, rustic ones. Metal was often used by the Victorians however feels a little colder.

Sunken seating is a great way to introduce level change into a seating feature. We designed and built a paved area at the back of a house with a sunken brick seating area to escape the prevailing wind. The few steps down combined with a small wall at existing level provided a lovely intimate space for a sofa seat and refuge from the wind on sunny days. Digging into the ground you could easily make a fire pit with seating around the outside. We have been drawn to fire for thousands of years and this could provide a great meeting point in the garden for parties in the autumn and winter months.

A statement bench is a classic garden feature. The Lutyens bench is a classic piece of simplicity and form in a bench and looks great as a focal point too, but a feature can take many different forms. The Victorians loved a statement piece and this is why the Lutyens bench is still a thing in larger garden settings. The classic simple park bench is still an invitation to sit and take time out. Think carefully about position of a bench as you want to capture good views back across your garden or out toward the wider landscape beyond your plot. Some of us may have particularly pretty houses that we want to look back at and often views looking back over the garden can be forgotten with the emphasis on looking out from the house into the garden.

Walls with dual purpose have become very popular in garden design and build. The small garden wall is a standard feature of many modern gardens, but why not cap the top with a piece of stone to provide an invitation to sit. Walling bricks and paving stone offer a good opportunity to lead you through a space and show where relevant features are. Wider walls can offer the option of sitting both sides and when entertaining the more options for sitting the better. Integrating subtle lighting into the brick work is another way of suggesting that sitting on the top could be an option. In our ever-decreasing outdoor space provision we need to think carefully how to get the most from a space.

Areas for sitting help provide the space to spend time, but often they are too small for comfortable use. It is important when planning an outdoor dining area to consider the size of the table and chairs you want and how much space you need to comfortably push out from the table and still be able to navigate the space. Although it can be entertaining when a guest falls off the patio into the flower beds, it is unnecessary!

For more in depth advice or garden design help please get in touch to arrange a consultation.