The furniture in your garden is about more than eating and relaxing, it also forms part of the overall design of the garden. The type, size and finish of the furniture comes into play, and the surrounding hard landscaping and planting can help turn your furniture choices into a design feature in their own right.


You can spend a lot of money on flashy furniture but you really don't have to. There are many affordable products around, while you can also 'upcycle' old or forgotten materials, such as wooden posts and oil drums, into something unique to your garden.

How to create the perfect garden seating area

Large orange cushion on wooden garden seating
  • Be generous with space when planning seating areas – you don't want to feel squeezed in
  • Consider how many people you want to seat. Are you after an intimate two-seater or a family table for six or more?
  • Look at ways of incorporating your seating into new elements going into the garden. Low walls could be made wider for seating, as could raised beds
  • Consider privacy – a well-placed shrub or two could block out a neighbour's view of your seating. Suss out your line of vision when you're sitting, too
  • Use cushions to turn moderately comfortable chairs, benches and the tops of low walls into more comfy seating for entertaining
  • Consider the materials you use – wood and stone age beautifully, whereas plastic and dyed fabrics can bleach out in the sun
  • Think about incorporating deliciously-scented plants by seating to draw you in and enhance relaxation
  • Don't get carried away with bright, white furniture. It can really dominate a garden and distract from other features and planting

How to make a cosy garden seating area

You can really go to town with your garden seating area, using cushions, blankets, soft lighting and even wind chimes to make it feel really cosy. Start by choosing a quiet corner to make your seating area, ensuring it has plenty of shade and a private feel – such as plants or shrubs that provide privacy from neighbours. Then choose comfortable outdoor furniture such as an outdoor sofa or reclining chair, and add plenty cushions and blankets to make it feel snug. An umbrella or pergola can give it a secluded feel, while climbing plants – particularly scented plants – can add to the relaxed environment. You might want to add lighting for the evening, choosing warm, golden light rather than bright white LEDs, as this not only feels cosier but is far less disruptive to insects.

Garden seating ideas

Rustic garden bench

Wooden bench in cottage garden
Sun-bleached, rustic, wooden bench in a cottage garden

Wood is warm and inviting. When bleached by the sun the mellow tones add a sense of maturity to the garden. Here the rustic style works perfectly with cottage-style planting.

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Our tip: when placing benches on grass, move them around occasionally to stop the grass dying off in the shade beneath.

Stone wall seating area

Stone garden wall with seating slab
Stone garden wall topped with seating slabs

When installing any kind of wall in a garden, consider if it can double up as a seating area. Retaining walls and feature walls form the permanent architecture of the garden and can be good places to perch.

Our tip: aim to finish the wall at around 45-50cm for an ideal seating height.

Mix of different styles

Black garden chair with table in wild garden
Black chairs and wooden table in a garden with a black shed and wooden decking and balustrade

Mixing up styles and colours can bring out different areas of the garden. Here, this lightweight black chair ties in with the black shed and complements the wooden table, too.

Our tip: mix and match styles can look good and, here, the lightweight chair can be easily moved if you fancy a change.

Bean bag seating

Orange bean bag in garden
A striking, red-orange beanbag on decking in a garden

This bean bag makes a statement with its strong overall form and colour and is an eye-catching focal point. This one-seater sets the scene for a spot of solitary, al fresco contemplation, and makes for a cosy garden space.

Our tip: though most outdoor bean bags are showerproof/water resistant, they shouldn't be left out year round.

Permanent, cushioned garden seats

Blue garden built in seating
Built-in garden seating with blue cushions

Custom building permanent seating into the garden is usually costly, but will give an integrated feel and tie the wider style of the garden together. This garden has a strong Moroccan theme, with banquette seating making it the ideal spot for entertaining.

Our tip: consider the depth of the bespoke cushions before building the seating, so it doesn't end up too high overall.

Light-coloured garden furniture

White cast iron garden furniture
White, cast-iron table set at the end of a garden

Solid furniture can block out garden views, but this metal table and chair set forms a simple outline, without dominating the space. Placing the seating at the back of the garden offers a different view, looking back at the house.

Our tip: the lighter the colour of the furniture, the more of its outline you're likely to see against the backdrop.

Folding chairs

Garden wood and metal bistro set on gravel
Foldable garden chair and table set, placed on gravel

Folding bistro chairs give plenty of flexibility as they can be easily moved around, stored away hung up on hooks when not needed. There are many different types, but a classic metal and wood finish goes with most garden styles.

Our tip: consider personalising your furniture by painting the wooden slats to tie them into the colours of your planting scheme.

Wooden cube seats

Oak garden seating wooden blocks
Rope-handled, oak-cube seats in a striking, grey-walled, modern garden

Sometimes seating can look at little 'obvious' and overpower a small space when you really want the plants to do the talking. These oak cubes are low key and add a sculptural element to a garden. Rope handles make them easy to move.

Our tip: all wood ages and silvers over time, which adds character, but check if yours needs to be treated with a wood stain and preservative.

Oil drum seating

Metal garden seating painted oil drums
A garden featuring seating made from wood-topped, halved and painted oil drums

Oil drums split in half, topped with wood, make a couple of cool seats for a garden shack. This look is affordable, works nicely alongside other reclaimed materials and can be picked up in the planting colours to create a cohesive design.

Our tip: success in upcycling is all in the finishing. Here, the tops have been made to fit the drum perfectly and sanded down smoothly.

Combine seating with storage

Outdoor bench with storage. Jason Ingram
Outdoor bench with storage. Jason Ingram

If you have a small garden, don't try to pack too much in. Consider making or buying seating with built-in storage if you've little room for sheds. This means you can house all of your garden tools in the space where you sit, giving you more space for growing plants.

Our tip: if making your own storage seat, measure the largest items you need to store before building, so you know you will be able to fit them in and tidy everything away.


Looking after outdoor seating

Different materials require different types of care, but on the whole it's a good idea to keep your garden furniture clean by washing it twice a year with warm soapy water. Avoid using harsh chemicals, which can cause staining. It's also worth storing your garden furniture somewhere dry, such as your shed, over the winter. Metal furniture should be kept free from rust while wooden furniture should be painted with a wood preserve, such as fence paint or teak oil, annually. Bear in mind that strong sunlight can cause colours to fade, and that regularly wiping metal furniture can prevent rust.