Spruce Up Your Garden Seating for Spring

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Spring is a busy time for gardeners. Tackling the post-winter clean up, planting for the year ahead and getting the garden ready for warmer weather can leave anyone breathless. Even the most energetic need time to unwind, so leave space to create a seated area for relaxation, contemplation and recreation.

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Seating Plan

When planting the garden create a plan based on areas that get full sun (more than six hours per day), partial shade (three to six hours), dappled shade and full shade. Ideally, a south facing garden and seating area get the most hours of sun, while west-facing provides sunlight until later in the day for dedicated evening barbecue fans. 

Arrange seating to suit personal preference, shady or in a hot spot, but always with the best view in mind. Most people prefer a border or hedge to the rear for greater privacy. Draw up a design first then get to work! 


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Natural Shade

For sun and shade lovers the draw of natural shade provided by trees, bushes or shrubs, tall flowering plants – such as sunflowers – bamboo or reeds, is too good to resist for a seating arrangement.
 
Parasols and standing garden umbrellas are portable and can be moved around chairs or loungers easily. Built wooden gazebos and pop-ups also provide a leisurely seated nook for garden lovers. Exploit space near a water feature, if there is one, but not close enough for splashes to land on cushions.

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Material World

Be creative in the choice of material used for seating. Too often people wheel out the same tired plastic furniture year after year. Look at materials that complement the garden’s surroundings. Wooden benches weather through sun and rain and this allows the beautiful natural grain to emerge.
 
Promote a quiet space for contemplation with elementary, natural materials. Benches made of stacked stone or roughly fashioned tree trunk seats are a simple but effective statement. We love the idea of bathroom tiles, glued to a built in stone bench, to brighten up your outdoor space. 

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Outdoor Dining

Seating and eating are two activities that work in harmony together. Outdoor dining spaces should have clean flat surfaces for serving food. Solid wooden tables and benches, clean and minimal rattan or steel and glass furniture for simplicity, are all good options.
 
Think ‘wind break‘ when dining and use slatted fence panels or the garden’s best natural features for shelter, but not fruit bearing, flower shedding or seed bearing trees, whose material can fall into food.

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Cushion the Blow

Choose outdoor fabrics for seat cushions, meaning weatherproof or waterproof. Woven acrylic is more fade resistant than most other fabrics, but solution-dyed acrylic is also suitable, as are polyester and printed acrylic. Fabrics should be water resistant, quick-drying, mould and mildew resistant, and slow to fade, shrink and wrinkle. Most outdoor fabrics have factory-applied guard to keep them looking fresh.

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Small and Roof Gardens

Smaller gardens offer fewer options and need careful planning to optimise seating. Be assured that it does not have to be a big production – an intimate one or two-seater bench is perfect. Rooftop gardens can be exposed and need structural assessments for things like water drainage, load-bearing capacity and advice on creating access.
 
One thing that most rooftop gardens have is a spectacular view, so frame that with the seating position. Be sure to build in wind screens for privacy, shade and shelter too.

Types of Seating

When it comes to decking out your decking area or padding out your seat pads we've got the low down on the best types of seating to work into your outdoor space. 
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Solid Bench

Wooden benches are made to share and may suit a garden where space is at a premium. Simple handcrafted benches, the easily recognisable park’ bench with its slatted back and arm rests, or even a pub bench with table are all great choices.

Go rustic with log furniture, or sturdy with an iron or steel roll-top bench, featuring intricate scroll work.

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Built for Comfort

Cushioned seats are the relaxed garden lover’s chair of choice. Sofa sets with weatherproof cushioning are perennially popular in and out of the conservatory.

Swing seats are another option and vary between wood and metal framed, stand-alone or fitted, with and without awnings. They also come as a horizontal hammock for deep relaxation.  Sun lovers and lucky pool owners should consider an armless chaise type lounger, ideal for sunny nooks or relaxing after a swim.

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Fun Seats

Sway gently in the breeze with a hammock strung between two sturdy posts. One of the ultimate pleasures on a summer’s day is sitting, or lying, in a hammock, though trees, posts or a sturdy trellis is needed to make this option work. For kids, a tyre swing seat hung from a tree is paradise, or a brightly coloured bean bag.

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Modern Classics

Turn and turn again on a swivel rocker chair. Offers a hint of decadence and a neat rotating option to track the sun across the sky. Or go for a classic folding canvas chair, easy to pick up and carry to favourite spots in the garden, depending on the time of day.
 
Design classics like the Luxembourg, a lightweight metal chair created for the Paris Jardin du Luxembourg in 1923, look great and offer similar flexibility. Equally lightweight, and oozing class, is the Lloyd Loom chair, so-called because of the special loom used to create the originals from kraft paper and steel wire. 

Seating is such a personal choice and there are endless permutations to create a calm oasis in the garden. As French dramatist Jean Anouilh would have it: “Life is a child playing around your feet, a tool you hold firmly in your grip, a bench you sit down upon in the evening, in your garden.”

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