Take a seat

Old World Style

Fab BenchSika

Whether your yard is tiny or the size of Versailles, a beautiful bench can help you bring a sense of calm and order to your outdoor space. As Martha Petersen of Martha Petersen Landscape Design points out, “A bench encourages you to go in and enjoy your own garden. People generally gravitate to benches, especially in a large garden. It’s a place to take a rest and sit down, read, or contemplate the view.”

Isabell Bench | sika-design.us

Fluid Form

Fab GS Spirit 36356

Petersen, who lives in Kittery, Maine, says the three things to think about when choosing a bench are size, material, and style. She also suggests looking for durability and low maintenance. “I favor teak benches, as long as they are certified plantation grown for environmental reasons,” she says. “Teak may be a bit more expensive but it lasts.” As for size, she suggests that a five-foot bench will easily fit two or three people. No matter the style, a bench “should set a tone and complement your garden. You want the bench to be part of your total design and garden scheme.” Be cautious with colors as they may clash with a flowery garden. Conversely, a colorful bench can add a pop of color and look smashing in a foliage-heavy area.

Spirit Song Bench | gardeners.com

Rustic Romance

Fab Romancing rhinebeck

Placement of a bench is also important. Petersen likes to site benches where they add an element of surprise. “Try placing your bench around a corner or down a path so it’s a hidden treat.” Or, for a different view and perspective, “put a bench far from your house and garden, looking back, which allows you to see them in a whole new way.” Instead of on the lawn, consider putting your bench in a garden bed, close enough to the edge that your feet can touch the grass. “That way when mowing, you don’t have to pick up the bench or try to mow around it. It also looks great to have it integrated as an element of the garden itself.”

Rhinebeck Bench | romancingthewoods.com

Classic Comfort

Fab Terrain 0625

When choosing a bench, comfort is key. Keep in mind that stone and metal are both cold in the winter and retain heat in the summer. And while a backless bench can blend into the landscape without obscuring the view, a bench with a back and armrests may be more comfortable. Sometimes just one bench is not enough: “Multiple benches gives you multiple perspectives, and they don’t need to be the same style throughout most gardens.” A bench can be a big investment, but if well chosen and placed imaginatively, it can become a destination. Petersen says, “A garden bench invites me and my family to sit and enjoy the garden, not just work in it.”

Thornthrace Teak Bench | shopterrain.com

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