• How to build simple garden benches for free

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    Easy benches for the garden that anyone can make

    Places to sit?  You’ve got to have them in a flea market garden. You can build these benches!  Here are 4 simple projects to provide many lovely places to sit and enjoy the garden, to sit to water or to rest your bones after a hard working day in the garden.

    First and easiest bench

    My first and easiest bench

    “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to plan in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”      John Muir

    The simplest bench you can build

    This first redwood bench, shown, was built from one 2 x 8 board about ten feet long. Two legs are cut, each 14 inches long, positioned about 10-12 inches in from the ends and nailed straight down from the seat of the bench. a two x four was nailed underneath for support. This type of bench is an Aldo Leopold design, elegant and easy, good for sitting to hand water or to set against a tree.

    First and easiest bench, another view, one board two cuts and a few screws or nails

    First and easiest bench, another view, one board two cuts and a few screws or nails


    Collapsing lounge, made from old wooden patio furniture.

    Collapsing lounge, made from old wooden patio furniture


    A lounge from recycled wooden lawn furniture

    A little ways along the same garden path, is a rustic ‘collapsing lounge’, made from an old redwood chair and ottoman and a flip, flip mattress. An army blanket is spread over top.

    Set under a large live oak and propped up under a couple legs with rocks, it anchors this part of the garden and creates a destination. Comfort is the key here and making a comfortable place for yourself is highly recommended, with cushions and a pillow, it’s very handy for after digging or when dizzy from the heat.

    In California, there isn’t much summer rain, so you can leave this lounge out from May to the first rains in October. The table was found for free on trash day, as was the chair. The pillow shams were found at a thrift store.


    Bench made to lean

    Bench made to lean


    A bench designed to lean

    The most recent bench was built alongside the upper part of the loop, where the view is breathtakingly beautiful. The mountain commands your attention here. Instead of just passing by on our walks with Maggie, a real comfortable bench was needed to stop and enjoy.

    View from new bench...why it was placed here

    View from new bench…why it was placed here

    With a magazine picture to go by and a design loosely based on two very simple, yet classic Aldo Leopold* benches, we knocked it together, without too much yelling and too many treks between the ‘spot’ and our patio ‘workshop.’ Thank goodness for cordless drills!


    Our newest bench, made to lean

    Our newest bench, made to lean

    I planted some Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ which will need no water after the first year and there is some hardy mint in the Talavera pot. The table is a thrift store find.


    All these benches were built with little or no cost. The redwood is expensive to buy, but can be worth every penny. It lasts.

    Tip: Ask at a lumber yard for any landscaping lumber, usually redwood and 2×8 or 2x12s, that are too weathered or beat up to sell. You may get them free or with a deep discount. So ironic that someone would think wood is too weathered to sell, but they DO!


    Bench in a tree...easy

    Bench in a tree…easy


    Shady rock bench, one board, two logs and four nails

    Shady rock bench, one board, two logs and four nails


    Set against a tree bench

    Set against a tree bench, great for sitting while you hand water the garden

    This bench is identical to the ‘easiest bench’ and set against the tree as a watering and resting spot.

    Finding recycled wood for garden projects

    This bench above was also built for $0, built from landscaping redwood, 2 x 12s, acquired free from the local lumberyard, whose owner when asked said it was “too weathered!”  “Gee, in that case, I’d be glad to take it off your hands” said I.

    Many times recycled wood can be found at construction sites, from friends’ building projects or simply by spreading the word that you’re looking for some.


    Try expressing your personal style by building one of these simple benches that are full of unique personality.  ~~ Sue


    More Info: 
    Aldo Leopold benches

    Aldo Leopold on Wikipedia


    Share and Enjoy


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.


    1. Those are great!

      I built one out of a crib. An idea I saw somewhere else is to use a shower curtain to make your outdoor pillows and seat cushions waterproof!

      I thought that was a great idea!

      1. Sue Langley says:

        Good idea, Tawra, about the shower curtain pillows. if you make any please show us! ~~ Sue

    2. Claudia S. says:

      Hello! Loved your ideas on garden benches. Mmm.. a new project for the Spring’n Summer 2013! We operate a small nursery out of our 1 acre propertly, growing potted herbs, perennials, annuals, etc. and we are now kicking back from this past season, hoping to utilize the ’86 RV we purchased last year to sit by the beach at Sandbanks Sandy park, Picton…my favourite time! We have a pond area that needs a bench and this is a reallly great ‘inexpensive” idea for a bench!
      Thank you !!
      Claudia ‘n Chris
      Forget-me-Not Herbs ‘n Flowers Oxford Mills

      1. Sue Langley says:

        Enjoy your time at the beach,…enough time in the fall to do projects. Having a bench where you have a view of your pond is ideal. Sue