In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
November, 2007
Regional Report

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A concrete bench makes a formal statement even among exuberantly colorful lantana and 'Clara Curtis' mums.

Smart Garden Seating

Whether you want a quiet spot to sit under a tree or plenty of places for holiday guests to perch, creating comfortable and convenient places to sit in the garden requires some thought about how you use -- or would like to use -- your outdoor spaces. Whether yours is a new or well-established garden, here are some tips for planning where to locate garden seating.

Stand inside at the window you most often use to look out, and find the point where your eyes stop. That, according to one of my favorite landscape architects, is the place to put a seat of some sort. Put a glider in an arbor, a pair of 1950s rounded-back lawn chairs, or a concrete, wooden, or iron bench right there. Also consider a dining area for entertaining, a seating group for conversation, and a bench near your front door as a symbol of welcome.

Seating can be a focal point in the garden's hardscape, or it can blend right in and wait for someone to find its comforts. You can use the materials as you find them, appreciating the natural aging of cement, iron, and wood. Lovely lichen and rust offer timless contrast to plants and other ornaments. Or paint surfaces to suit your vision of a garden-unifying color or accent. If you want the hammock, glider, or chair grouping to be a destination, be sure its finish attracts attention. Even classic wrought iron can be painted, either to retain its formal black silhouette or to jazz up its impact with bright colors.

The materials you choose for your seating areas do not have to be exactly the same throughout the garden, but try to avoid overmixing them, as each makes a definite statement. Concrete looks cool and slightly formal, while wrought iron is more decorative. Adirondack chairs invite you to sit and enjoy a cool drink, but hammocks and chaise lounges want you to stretch out. Recycling logs into seating is a smart way to accommodate a crowd and brings a decidedly rustic tone to the garden.

So make a seating area, then take a seat and relax!


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