21 garden seating ideas from prehistoric to futuristic

Despite a torrential rain last night, producing the briefest dip in temperature, we’re enjoying a ridiculously hot and humid summer here in southwestern Ontario. Our flower beds are parched and our lawns are going KFC–golden and crunchy. There’s only one thing to do: go sit somewhere in the garden with a chilled glass of wine and toast the weather. It is what it is. But where to sit and on what? Wanting inspiration for a new place to hang out, I trolled through my photos and realized there are seats and seating sites for every garden design imaginable. Here are 21 garden seating ideas ranging from the prehistoric and to the futuristic. (Click on any photo for more details including where and when each photo was shot.)

The Cro-Magnon look

It’s amazing what can be done with found wood, boulders or slabs of stone. Though a 3-seater “couch” carved from a single massive log might be a bit too much for some folks, thinking big (even in a small garden) can be that touch of drama a garden needs. And using reclaimed materials is always a good idea.

The Express Yourself DIY look

You might recognize these three photos from a series of posts I wrote last year about Keppel Croft Gardens in Big Bay, Ontario. These gardens are a labour of love by a couple who bring creativity, humour and a big dose of DIY ingenuity to every feature in their gardens. The trellised archway is furnished with a bench on one side, a crystal chandelier and, on the other side, a vase filled with fresh flowers on a shelf beneath a domed mirror within a gilded sun ray frame. Very posh. The garden bench surrounded by a three panel screen will get shrouded by greenery as the season progresses, thanks to the sweet peas trained up the wire screens. When you enter the Thyme Garden, you approach a small stone wall looking more like garden sculpture than garden seating until you see the other side.

The Garden Seating With A View look

These shots were also taken at Keppel Croft. The terraced lawn is bolstered by fieldstones in a style evocative of the many, many farm fences in this area. This is a great example of making a dramatic seating area where no drama originally existed. The stone acts as a semicircular frame around a patch of lawn just large enough for the two chairs and helps to create the terraced garden that overlooks nothing more than a swath of field that has been replaced with turf. Simple. Grand. Perfect.

The Perfect Finishing Touch look

I don’t think these gardens would be quite as interesting or inviting if they didn’t have a place to sit. The seating adds something. Is it purpose? An eye-catching shape?

The Tradition With A Twist look

The rectangular gazebo looks so refreshing compared to the predictable circular or hexagonal shape. On the porch, the usual Adirondacks or woven wicker chairs are replaced with seating that looks both modern and vintage.

The Have It Both Ways look

At the back of this large garden is a wooded hillside. A creek bed at one side is so steep that the water (when there is water) cascades into a waterfall. But even in this drought, the garden looks amazing and these two close by but very different seating options offer spots to stop and take in views of the creek bed, now looking more like a ravine or rock garden yet still spectacular. Set on the trimmed lawn and surrounded by carefully tended beds of herbaceous perennials, the formal garden bench looks right at home. Farther up the incline, the muscular design of the metal-framed hammock works well against it’s natural setting. Two moods to choose from, just steps apart.

A hammock and garden bench are situated in shady spots in a garden on a hill.

The Future Is Here look

OK. The shot that looks like a still from a creepy horror movie is actually of an art installation. No one is suggesting you sit on a straight back dining chair, each facing away from the others, to contemplate the scenery around you. But I love the idea of creating a seating area in a naturalized setting simply by adding a raised deck that wraps around a tree and floats over the area. The result would look a bit futuristic and a bit tree-fort-for-adults. Add a few (comfortable) seating options and you’ve got a great place to kick back and chill. The leaf-shaped pool loungers, on the other hand, were around a real pool in a real garden. They just happen to look like what the Jetson’s would have around their pool, if the loungers levitated, of course.

The Green Peace In The Grey City look

This urban garden in Toronto is surprisingly peaceful given that a residential street lies just beyond the evergreen hedge. A low-lying water feature encourages visitors to look down rather than up at surrounding buildings and the bubbling water acts as white noise in this bustling neighbourhood.

The No Garden, No Problem look

These two garden seating areas ignore the fact that there aren’t the usual garden elements like lawn and flower beds. Just add plant containers, a piece of wood used like garden sculpture, or a trellis covered with potted clematis and seats with that “I’m in a garden!” look and, voila, you have a relaxing retreat, no actual garden required.

The When In Doubt, Go bright look

Whether you’ve got lots of space or not much, using a bright colour can give garden seating that wow factor. I was never keen on eye-popping garden furniture until I saw these two gardens. I’m sold.

What’s your garden seating style?

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