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Somewhere to Sit: A Gallery of Garden Benches
That bench in your front or back yard may look casual and random, but there should be more thought that went into where it eventually ends up. At least a few considerations should be involved in the placement of a bench in a landscape or garden. Among them:
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- Is there a view? It doesn't have to be a spectacular, million-dollar view of the mountains or whitecaps (although if it's there, go for it). What view would you like to gaze upon from your bench? It might be your own garden or a charming vignette, like a pool or pond, rose bushes or flowers in bloom.
- Location, location, location: Does it get hot where you live? Would a bench in the shade be a welcome respite? Or, do you live in a rainy climate, like the Pacific Northwest? A bench under a roof or tree canopy might provide much-needed shelter during an unexpected sprinkle or storm.
- Materials and Style: Benches don't have to be perfectly coordinated, but if your house is a distinct architectural style—say, Mid-century modern or Victorian—then the bench design and materials do matter. Something sleek, geometric and absent of intricate carvings and details would probably go with a modern house, while a Victorian might call for a highly ornamental cast iron bench.
- What's Underfoot? The ground or surface material can influence the type of bench you place on top of it. A patio with flagstone pavers will be somewhat rough and uneven—making certain types of benches, like those made of metal, unstable and rocky. A pathway, lawn or area with decomposed granite (DG) as a surface is more casual and will accommodate most informal benches. Also measure the space and the bench you have in mind before finding out that the bench is too big.
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Vintage Park BenchWhere do old park benches go when they get replaced by updated models? This homeowner in Santa Monica, California, found a spot in her front garden that blended in with the landscape and provides a quick resting place while working on the vegetables and other front-yard crops. For those who know what they are looking at, the bench is a nostalgic reminder of the past.Continue to 3 of 16 below.
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Elegant Garden Bench
In a large formal garden, an elegant bench with matching tables nestles into the perfectly manicured shrubs. A teal bench cushion complements, rather than competes, with the nearby greenery, and makes a beautiful place to sit, enjoy tea, visitors, and the pond that is in front of it.Continue to 4 of 16 below.
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Arbor and Bench
An arbor-covered bench can be tucked in a corner, used as a way to delineate or divide parts of a yard or as a focal point and place to rest near a pool or on a deck. Soften it by planting vines nearby or in containers—climbing roses would be pretty and also add a sweet scent to whoever is sitting on the bench.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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Outdoor Shower BenchA simple, low bench against the wall of an outdoor shower area allows the person rinsing off to put his/her clothes, swimsuit or personal gear while quickly showering off. The bench is almost strictly utilitarian, and works perfectly in this setting.Continue to 6 of 16 below.
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Pebble BenchEIS Studios' Pebbles are a lively, human-sized, pebble-shaped take on the typical backless bench. Pebbles are made in fiberglass, wood, fabric or cast stone. The studio is based in Venice, California, and the seats have been featured at top design shows and events, including the annual Dwell on Design in Los Angeles.Continue to 7 of 16 below.
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In lieu of a water-guzzling lawn, people who still need to have a touch of green grass can get their fix, and sit on it, too. While this isn't exactly the type of bench that invites you to sit for hours, it makes a fine conversation piece, focal point and adds a touch of fun to a landscape. It might not be comfortable for swimsuit-wearing guests, however—grass has a reputation for being itchy on bare skin.Continue to 8 of 16 below.
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Placed under a tree off the beaten path a wooden bench can be a place for quiet reflection, an escape, or reading.
Memorial benches are a nice way to remember someone who has passed away, especially a nature lover or someone who liked to work in a garden. This type of bench can be placed in public, like a park, or in a residential landscape.Continue to 10 of 16 below.
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Artistic BenchSometimes something as ordinary as a garden bench can be a work of art -- like a vibrant painting or sculpture for an outdoor living space. This colorful assemblage (mixed media) bench can be found at the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas, California. If you're feeling ambitious and have some talent, why not make a piece of art that you can sit on? Other possible materials include acrylic paint or mosaic tiles.Continue to 11 of 16 below.
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Bench for Plants
An unassuming narrow bench that is slightly weathered can find a new purpose as a low shelf or table to display potted plants, or—in this case—outdoor terrarium gardens. Not to encourage you to hang on to something you may not want anymore, but it never hurts to look at something in the yard with a fresh perspective and the possibility of repurposing, before it ends up in a landfill.Continue to 12 of 16 below.
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Bench for PeekingA low brick wall with some missing pieces are perfect for a game of hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo. The low bench is just asking for kid to climb on it and peer over the wall, into the rest of the garden. This landscape was cleverly designed with children's curiosity in mind.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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A wood-slat bench—a popular project featured in mid-20th-century how-to books and magazines -- gets an updated look with a backrest, paint and a small umbrella. The bench is situated along a pathway, which is a good place to escape or contemplate projects in the immediate vicinity.Continue to 14 of 16 below.
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Rock-Leg BenchIt doesn't get much more basic or clever than this wood-plank bench with two similar-sized rocks to support it. Just make sure the rocks are spaced as supports and won't give a see-saw or teeter-totter experience for anyone who sits on it.Continue to 15 of 16 below.
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A gleaming warm wood deck seamlessly extends indoor space to the outdoors at the Southern California home. A simple wooden bench on chrome legs is aligned with the edge of the deck and the distressed-wood fence behind it—simple yet elegant.Continue to 16 of 16 below.
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Wagon Wheel Bench
Two wagon wheels become the arms and supports for this rustic Western-style bench—perfect for a yard that features cacti, succulents and drought-tolerant landscaping—perfect for a yard that features cacti, succulents and drought-tolerant landscaping.