While taking a quiet stroll through your garden is nice, wouldn’t it be even better to relax with a cup of coffee or a good book while surrounded by the sweet aroma of your flower beds? All you need is a garden bench.
Of course, garden benches aren’t just functional. The right bench design can elevate your garden’s beauty even further, giving you a newfound appreciation for the care and attention invested into your home’s landscaping.
Keep reading for our favorite garden bench ideas, and tips for how to utilize these design ideas in your own backyard.
If you have an affinity for vintage decor, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing a touch of the past to your outdoor furniture. While exact styling depends on the era, antique garden benches often feature ornate filigree.
Pair these benches with classical landscaping and decor for the greatest impact.
With the right tools, you can easily restore cast or wrought iron to its original finish or add a coat of paint for a contemporary update. Leave wood slats as-is to emphasize your bench’s old age or replace them for a fresh look and greater structural integrity.
2. Cast Iron
It’s no secret that cast iron is remarkably durable. Cast iron formed by skilled hands can last decades (or even centuries) with hardly any signs of wear! So if you’re looking for a timeless addition to your garden that will last for years to come, a cast iron garden bench is a great option.
Most cast iron benches feature wooden seats — these are easy to replace as-needed for comfort, stability, or aesthetics. The cast iron itself can even be painted (we recommend metal spray paint) to match your existing garden furniture and decor.
Curved garden benches provide lots of seating while taking up minimal space, making them ideal for fitting into tight corners. You can use a set of curved benches as a landscaping divider or build bench seating into your structural garden walls.
You can design a curved bench using practically any material. Go with a simple, backless bench design for a minimalist aesthetic. Use one or more curved garden benches to frame design elements in your backyard, such as a fire pit, pond, or ornamental tree.
Garden benches are surprisingly easy to build with some basic tools and skills. Take the opportunity to customize your DIY bench to perfectly fit the space and your specific needs. You could even add built-in cup holders or planters to your bench design.
If woodworking isn’t your forte, create a DIY garden bench with some cinder blocks and a wooden plank. Or repurpose some sturdy garden containers or stone pillars as bench legs. For the finishing touch, fill your DIY outdoor bench with handmade cushions or accent pillows.
Metal benches come in all styles and are often more durable than wooden ones. There are plenty of clean-cut designs to choose from. But metal has tons of creative potential. In particular, wire work benches are a delicate addition to any vintage-style garden.
One drawback of a metal bench is discomfort. Metal seating is very unforgiving, and subject to nature’s whim when it comes to surface temperature.
Outdoor cushions are a simple solution that will let you enjoy your metal garden bench in comfort (just be sure to tie down or bring your pillows inside during bad weather).
6. Modern Design
Take a page from modern architecture and play around with geometric shapes, sharp angles, and negative space in your garden bench design. You can even take it a step further and plan your bench idea around the shadows that appear when the sun is out.
Wood is a classic seat material that brings some natural warmth to modern sensibility.
Stick with simple supports that won’t disrupt the line of your bench seat. Or integrate the arms and supports into an all-in-one bench design made from a single piece of material and inspired by modern art.
If a freestanding bench feels like wasted space, there’s a good chance you just haven’t found the right design for your garden.
Many garden bench ideas serve multiple purposes, from increasing the amount of plantable soil to offering convenient patio storage. You could even build a bench seat into your garden’s retaining wall to maximize usable space.
For avid gardeners, you won’t find a better design than a planter bench. If you need a better workspace for your container garden, consider adding a potting bench to your backyard.
We’re also big fans of the romantic arbor bench design, which offers the ideal surface for training vines or climbing shrub cultivars.
8. Picnic Set
A traditional picnic table with attached bench seats can be extremely useful in a garden or patio area. For greater versatility, go with a separate picnic bench that can be used with or without the accompanying table.
A wooden bench isn’t your only option. Explore how different materials and finishes complement your existing landscape design.
Picnic sets aren’t just for eating. Setting up a picnic bench in your backyard or on your porch offers a relaxing space to work from home or tend to your daily to-do list. Plus, you’ll be all set to entertain friends and family at your next summer grill-out.
Since farmhouse decor is so popular in interior design, it makes sense that many would want to extend this style to their home’s outdoor space. There are countless farmhouse garden bench ideas out there, some more subtle than others.
Many gardeners like the look of wagon wheels attached to both sides of a bench as mock supports. Stick with natural wood or aged wrought iron for an authentic rustic look. Choose a wood stain that emphasizes the grain or go with a weathered finish for a truly rustic appearance.
Not all homeowners want an outdoor bench that stands out from the rest of their landscaping. Creating a natural-looking seating area can be as simple as a large rock with a smooth face placed somewhere in your garden.
For a more contemporary style, use smooth river rock or invest in a carved concrete bench.
A stone bench is perfect for a zen garden or to bring to life that picturesque storybook aesthetic you’ve always wanted.
Let nature add a personal touch by allowing moss or climbing vines to grow on your stone garden bench. (If mother nature won’t take the hint, you can always supplement with your own Irish moss.)
11. Swing Bench
A swing bench is a great way to transform a small pergola into a lounge area for reading, working outside, or even taking a quick nap. Or hang a wood bench from a sturdy, mature tree branch for a romantic hideaway.
Wherever you choose to install your swinging garden bench, pile on lots of cushions for maximum comfort.
If you want to turn your pergola into an all-inclusive retreat, pay attention to the details. Install overhead lighting — use fairy string lights for a soft glow or porch lighting for something brighter — to read or converse by.
Add built-in cup holders or tabletops to your swinging bench arms for extra convenience.
12. Tree Bench
Tree benches are a unique way to take full advantage of your garden’s natural shade. They can be curved or hexagonal and even double as protection for the tree’s base.
Ensure your tree bench idea leaves plenty of room for future growth or is easily adjustable. Before installing one of these benches, it’s also a good idea to double-check the health of your chosen tree.
If you don’t have a suitable tree in your garden, don’t hesitate to use this bench design around a water fountain or other tall design element instead.
If you want to make your garden furniture stand out, paint is always a quick and easy solution. But that’s only scratching the surface of unique design.
Wrought iron is a perfect example, as it can easily be formed into all different designs and patterns. Animals are a popular motif, especially in antique gardens.
Live-edge lumber and driftwood are two more materials that will give a garden bench some organic charm. And with so many artistic ways to utilize these types of wood, no two benches are ever the same.
Wicker is extremely popular for constructing patio furniture, and it’s perfect if you want a Bohemian or mid-century modern aesthetic in your backyard. Wicker makes a beautiful bench material when left natural, but can also be painted any color.
Keep in mind that synthetic wicker is typically best for outdoor furniture. Natural rattan and bamboo might look gorgeous, but these reeds just aren’t built to survive 24/7 exposure to the elements. Invest in high-quality synthetic wicker for a garden bench that will look great and also last.
15. Wood Carving
Afraid that adding a bench to your outdoor space will destroy its natural, wild-grown appearance? The good news is that any wood garden bench carved from a single tree trunk will look like it grew that way all on its own.
There are countless styles of carved benches available. Some artists prefer to draw attention to the wood’s natural shape and texture, doing the bare minimum to create a usable seat. Others piece together various wood pieces to create a rough-hewn — yet undeniably man-made — final product.
Sometimes, simple is best. A wooden outdoor bench gets the job done while letting the rest of your garden design shine through. Natural wood grain works well in any outdoor space but you can also use paint for a quick facelift.
You won’t need to worry about your garden bench looking like a misplaced park bench as long as you add a personal touch. Pair your garden bench with matching wood planters, end tables, or a full patio set for the whole package.
17. Wrought Iron
Wrought iron can be dramatic, delicate, or overwhelmingly simple. And because it’s one of the most durable materials used in bench construction, it’s not uncommon to see wrought iron benches from centuries past still being used today.
Black is the most classic finish, but a painted wrought iron garden bench can be a great way to bring a pop of color to your garden space.
Many wrought iron bench designs feature a wood plank for the seat or backing — some even incorporate wrought iron craftsmanship into these wooden elements.