Gardens give garden benches a home and a purpose. After all, what is a garden without a place to sit down, relax, and admire one’s handiwork?

Under a shady tree or next to a particularly fragrant plant, a garden bench is an oasis for a gardener — a place for making plans, for contemplating next year’s design, or even just for reading a good book. But there are as many different types of benches as there gardens and it is essential that the proper bench is chosen for the garden it will live in. Whether it is an expensive, high-end bench or a weekend special at the local garden center, the bench should match the mood of the garden and the gardener’s vision.

For the natural, woodsy garden, stone is perfect. Once it has been exposed to the elements, it will get a weathered look that will make it seem as if it has been in its spot forever, blending in with plants around it. Make sure you choose that spot quickly, however, as stone is quite heavy and difficult to move around. For a more inexpensive option that has the look of stone, concrete benches perform nicely in the garden and last for many years with little or no maintenance.

For the contemporary gardener, wood is a great choice. The designs are endless and the choices of wood types many, from the top seller, teak, to simple pine. These benches can be formal or informal and can be personalized with cushions, paints, and stains. Most wooden benches require some level of upkeep to keep the wood protected – depending on what kind they’re made of.

The metal bench is tough and sturdy and made to fit in any garden space. Depending on the type of metal used, this bench can fade to look rustic or can be maintained with a bright, painted exterior. Often, wood and metal are combined to give the bench a little extra interest.

The toughest benches of all are those that are made of resin or plastic. They can last close to forever with no care at all and come in many styles, shapes, and sizes, as well as a range of prices. The plastic bench is mobile and can be relocated easily.

Remember: No garden is finished until there is a bench in residence. Every gardener deserves a comfortable spot to sit down and admire her accomplishments.

Donna Teasley is an extension agent in Burke County. This article appeared as a guest column in the October 2012 Gardening Newsletter.

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