Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
January, 2006
Regional Report

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A friendly garden seating area makes room for people, pots, and even a cat.

Essential Elements

More than anything else, a garden should be the place you want to come to at the end of a long day. After a hectic day, that means a nice place to sit.

Messages in Materials
When choosing a seat for the garden, comfort and style work together. A bench sends an invitation to the visitor to join you, unlike a single chair and small table. Substantial wooden benches make a more casual statement than Victorian style wrought iron constructions. Gliders and swings cast a casual tone, too, no matter their materials. Take time to consider both how the seat will look, and how it sits, and make both your own.

Locating Comfort
Walk around the garden and take its measure before deciding where to put a place to sit. Check for a breeze, but avoid truly windy corners. The deck is a nice place to sit, but don't stop there. Wander out to the edges of the landscape where a sitting spot can look back on your hard work. Or locate the bench behind a hedge for privacy. Shade would seem to be the first choice for seating, but a spot in the morning sun makes a warm place for coffee on a winter day.

Deciduous trees offer two good qualities: summer canopy and winter exposure. Take advantage of the view by placing a bench facing it; add an umbrella or arbor as needed. The north side of a structure can be a cool retreat, especially in our regions.

Underneath It All
Add a layer of slag, gravel, or pavers under the seat to solve three problems at once. No need to weed under or around the bench, as the rock mulch will suppress most of them. You'll be able to enjoy the seat even on days when the garden is muddy. And the rock will "ground" the bench to the space, creating a lasting landscape feature you'll enjoy for years.

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