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Garden seating areas

Posted: Monday 25 February 2013
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Although there is not a huge amount of ‘planty stuff’ to be done at this time of year, it doesn’t mean you should be sitting in a comfy chair watching television.


Garden seating areas

Although there is not a huge amount of ‘planty stuff’ to be done at this time of year, it doesn’t mean you should be sitting in a comfy chair watching afternoon television.

Late winter is your last chance to sort out any hard landscaping jobs that need doing, before those little green shoots in the border suddenly crack on and need attention. It is amazing how forgiving a garden can be: if you dig foundations and make a mess now, the grass will recover and the plants will bounce back by summer.

I find it difficult to give hard landscaping advice on a blog because everybody has different ideas and requirements. But here are some basic, bossy design rules for terraces, patios and seating areas (whatever you wish to call them):

  1. The biggest mistake I see people make is creating terraces and patios that are too small for their purpose. Nobody sitting at a table to eat wants to be squished. As a rough guide, a table that is 180cm long and 70cm wide will need a hard, level seating area of at least 280cm by 170cm. This gives room for your happy (and possibly mildly squiffy) guests to push their chairs back without toppling into a flower bed. Whatever the size of your table, be sure to leave plenty of space around it.

  2. As a gardener, you will spend more time looking at seating areas than sitting in them – so make sure they look good. The furniture should always be the best you can afford.

  3. Obviously, dining terraces should be close to the kitchen, so it is easy to get food to the table without carrying laden trays to the far ends of the garden. The easier it is, the more you will eat outside.

  4. Try to avoid pink paving stones, especially when laid in a pattern with yellow slabs. You don’t want to end up sitting on a slice of concrete Battenburg cake.




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donutsmrs 26/02/2013 at 18:29

I've got two seats in my back garden. One I have had for a long time and is nice and secluded and the other one, my husband got it at a car boot sale, it looks lovely outside my back door just where the sun shines. Even this early in the year I have sat out there in the winter sunshine with a cup of tea thinking of all the gardening jobs I will have to do.

donutsmrs 26/02/2013 at 18:29

I've got two seats in my back garden. One I have had for a long time and is nice and secluded and the other one, my husband got it at a car boot sale, it looks lovely outside my back door just where the sun shines. Even this early in the year I have sat out there in the winter sunshine with a cup of tea thinking of all the gardening jobs I will have to do.

Gardening Grandma 26/02/2013 at 18:52

I really like James Alexander Sinclair for his posh charm and unassuming expertise in gardening matters,  but I'm not sure what I think of his warning to avoid pink patios. I had one years ago (crumbs! 35 years ago!) and I was extremely proud of it. I thought it was very posh indeed. You don't keep a pink patio long tho - it soon fades to beige. Since then, I've started off with boring beige. We have a large one, now, laid by a friend who rushed it and did a terrible job. It has big gaps between the uneven slabs and they are arranged in wonky lines. We're learning to live with it!  Good hard landscaping is very important and really, he has ruined an important [part of the garden. (We kept our mouths shut, somehow, and are still on good terms with him).   

SFord 27/02/2013 at 10:13

I have a smallish garden but a couple of seating areas:  An east facing bench which is ideal for an early morning cuppa (weather permitting).  Am currently growing a scented rose against the fence behind (David Austin's Gertrude Jekyll), a small decked area with a chair where the hubby sunbathes (if there are not too many pots on there) and a small metal cafe table and two chairs facing west to catch the evening sun (ideal for a glass of something cold!). 

The cat has also sussed the route around the garden to follow the sun.  Spring is definately on its way as she has been out in the garden just for a wander TWICE over the weekend! - shes a cat that really dislikes the wet and cold (well, she is about 17).

Muvs Dashwood 27/02/2013 at 13:37

Daughter made one last year by the house which catches the afternoon sun and in her Uni break will be making another at the end of the garden which catches the evening sun. She uses a mold and last year had to hand mix all the concrete - shes only a tiny woman - so this year I will hire a concrete mixer. Hopefully now my back has improved I will help more - pity her 6ft teenage brothers dont help much. Shes chopped a whole load of 20ft olive saplings down and is using them to build a pergola for a white garden with wisteria and roses over it. 

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