Enhance your patio with our metal garden benches

Our design team are exploring the principles of good garden design and looking at how something as simple as our metal garden benches can enhance your patio…

You’d think after the recent publication of our comprehensive guide to garden benches that we’d have said all we could say about them. But, when it comes to garden furniture, as the saying goes, we can talk the hind leg off a donkey!

In this article, we want to look at the fundamentals of good patio design and focus on some of the ways you can enhance your patio with our metal garden benches.

We want to try and do this using the fab photographs our customers send us for our Do Some Good campaign too as we think they best illustrate many of these tried-and-true design solutions.

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

In our patio design principles and ideas article, we defined good patio design as taking the following 4 ingredients and mixing them together to work in harmony:

  1. Hardscaping
    Patios, paths and garden structures such as sheds and pergolas, etc.

  2. Landscaping
    Lawns, planting, trees, shrubs, borders, containers, etc.

  3. Outdoor Living
    BBQ, pizza oven, fire pit, patio furniture, etc.

  4. Garden Accessories
    Outdoor lighting, garden rug, table decor, etc.

In other words, you can’t have one without the other. They all work together to create the perfect patio, and outdoor furniture is a critical element if you want the space to be usable.

The outdoor living element is kind of like the glue that pulls all the others together. And furniture, such as a simple garden bench, is what will get you outside using and enjoying your space.

For us, as garden furniture experts with a keen eye for garden design, there are several key factors that we think help best contribute to enjoyment and a well-designed patio that we need to consider:

1. Layout

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

A good patio or garden should have a considered layout that takes into account the available space and how you like or want to use it. Critical to that is seating, be it for dining, relaxing, taking in a view, or making the most of a quiet corner, etc.

Consider how you move about the space, measure up and work with the shape to determine the type of furniture that will best fit and function.

Take into account the free space needed around the furniture to still move around safely, and sit down comfortably when it is in place.

If you have a small patio, then you'll want to choose multifunctional pieces that are best scaled to the size of the space.

For example, a garden bench paired with a coffee table will take up similar space to a bistro set. However, the bistro is maybe better suited to dining for two, while the bench/table combo offers a more laid-back solution.

2. Functionality

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

We mentioned function in the previous point but it really is critical to creating a well-designed patio or garden. The space should best serve its intended purpose effectively and fit with your lifestyle.

Think about what it is you like or want to do on your patio and ensure that it has the necessary features to best facilitate that.

A garden bench can be utilised for a number of activities, such as relaxing, reading, enjoying the view in your garden, grabbing tea or coffee with a friend, or pulling up to a larger table set for additional seating, etc.

Depending on the size of your patio, a bench can play a supporting role or be the main focal point.

It is a functional and versatile piece of garden furniture that can be used for a variety of purposes and is a great way to add extra seating and style to your patio design.

3. Integration

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

A well-designed patio should blend seamlessly with both your home and the rest of your outdoor space. It should complement the style and architecture and blend or create a bridge to your landscaping.

You can blur the lines between them or create distinction but a good patio should flow and encourage people from the inside to the out.

Make use of natural hardscaping materials such as timber or stone, work with a similar colour palette, and add plants that match the wider surroundings to create harmony and cohesion.

You can easily create a focal point with a stylish bench to help draw the eye and make a smaller patio feel larger.

4. Comfort

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

Of course, we all want our patios to look good, and be a reflection of our personal style, but our best advice is to always prioritise comfort first.

You want a space you can spend time in so it needs to be cosy.

If you add a garden bench, make sure it is comfortable and ergonomic, pair it with cushions, pillows and throws.

Consider adding shading to your patio with a parasol, tall planting or a structure such as a pergola to protect it from the sun

Add features that will help make the space more comfortable to use such as planting, screening, a relaxing water feature, ambient lighting for when the sun sets or a patio heater or fire pit to keep the party going when the temps drop.

5. Materials

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

Material selection is critical when it comes to good patio design.

Set and stick to a budget, of course, but to get the best value for your money, invest in high-quality materials that are durable, weather-resistant and easy to maintain.

Common materials used for patio design include natural stone, porcelain, concrete, brick, wood, and composite materials.

Choose the ones that you think fit points 1 to 4 best to enhance the look and appeal of your patio

The same is true for a garden bench. You want a material like cast aluminium that is built to last with minimal maintenance.

6. Accessibility

What makes a well-designed patio or garden?

Ensure that the patio is both safe and easily accessible to everyone who uses it, especially for those with mobility challenges.

Incorporate ramps, handrails, and non-slip materials to ensure safety. Adequate lighting and well-defined pathways can also help make the space more accessible and safer to move around

At the end of the day, a well-designed patio will reflect your personality and the style of your home, how you enjoy spending time in the space, and give you a comfortable and enjoyable area for outdoor relaxation and entertainment.

How can you enhance your outdoor space with a metal garden bench?

Of course, no well-designed patio is complete without a place to sit, and simple though a metal bench may be, there is a lot you can achieve by adding one.

For the design team here at Lazy Susan, there are four key elements that you need to enhance your patio with a garden bench:

  1. The right metal garden bench

  2. Putting the metal bench in the right spot

  3. Making sure the bench and area around it are comfortable

  4. Putting the right planting around the bench seating area

Of course, there are other elements that will help enhance the space such as lighting or a fire pit for example, but below are the 4 essential things we think you should do with every metal garden bench to make sure it delivers the wow factor:

1. How to choose the right garden bench

How to choose the right garden bench

Choosing the right garden bench involves considering various factors to ensure it meets your needs and complements your outdoor space.

Here are some simple steps to help you select the perfect garden bench:

  • Purpose
    How do you intend to use the bench? Is it just decorative or will you use it for relaxation?

  • Location
    Where do you plan to place the bench? Is it in a sunny or shaded part of the garden? Will it be exposed to the elements?

  • Measure
    Measure the available space to ensure the bench fits in terms of width, depth, and height. Is there still space to move around safely when in place?

  • Material
    Garden benches come in various materials, each with its own advantages and maintenance requirements. Our Which outdoor furniture material is best for the UK? article looks at the pros and cons of popular materials.

  • Comfort
    If your bench will be used for seating, comfort is essential. Look for benches with an ergonomic design, armrests, backrest, and bench cushions.

  • Style
    Choose a bench that matches the style of your home, garden or outdoor space. Whether you prefer a traditional, contemporary, or rustic look, there are benches available to complement your outdoor decor.

  • Budget
    Determine your budget before shopping for a garden bench. Prices can vary widely based on materials and features. Factor in any additional costs, such as cushions or protective covers.

  • Maintenance
    Consider the level of annual maintenance you are willing to do. Some materials will require more upkeep than others. Our How to maintain our outdoor tables and chairs article has all you need to know about our range.

  • Samples
    If shopping online, and if possible, order Samples. This will help you ensure the quality of the material will suit your needs.

  • Reviews
    Before purchasing, read Customer Reviews and look at Customer Photos. Together they can provide valuable insight into durability, quality, and customer satisfaction with the retailer.

  • Warranty
    Ensure that the bench comes with a Warranty that covers any potential manufacturing defects or issues and a Returns Policy for peace of mind.

2. How to position a garden bench on your patio or in your garden

How to position a garden bench on your patio or in your garden

Once you have your new bench, it is important you carefully select the right place to put it. We looked at this subject in detail in our recent How to position a 2-seater garden bench in your outdoor space post but the basic steps or influencing factors are:

  • View
    What do you want to see when you sit on the bench? If you have a beautiful garden, landscape, or a particular focal point, position the bench to maximise the view.

  • Sun
    Think about the sun's path throughout the day. Do you want your bench in a sunny spot to enjoy warmth or would you prefer a shaded area to keep cool?

  • Privacy
    If privacy is important, position the bench in a way that provides screening from neighbouring properties or use additional hardscaping or landscaping such as structural planting, trellises, pergolas or fencing to add some.

  • Weather
    Like the sun, be mindful of prevailing wind patterns and weather conditions in your outdoor space. Position the bench in a way that minimises exposure to strong winds or rain.

  • Safety
    Take into account the proximity of your bench to other outdoor features such as paths, steps, doorways, etc. Ensure there is still enough space for people to move around comfortably and safely when the bench is in place.

  • Balance
    Consider how the bench fits into the overall design scheme in your patio and garden. It should complement and enhance, making it look and function better.

  • Comfort
    Make sure the bench is placed on a stable and level surface. Add Cushions and additional shade with a Parasol with Base for the summer months.

  • Flow
    Ensure that the bench placement doesn't obstruct the way you move around your outdoor space. People should be able to move around easily without tripping over or having to detour around the new bench.

  • Experiment
    If you're uncertain about the best position, then try out a few different spots and see how they feel.

The best position for a garden bench will end up being a combination of several of the above elements, but ultimately, it should look good and fit with how you like to spend time on it.

3. How to make your garden bench comfortable

How to make your garden bench comfortable

You can further enhance the garden bench itself with a little personalisation and by upping the comfort by adding decorative touches and accessories:

  • Cushions
    Adding outdoor soft furnishings is a great way to add a personal touch and provide extra comfort and support.

  • Pads
    If you want a simple solution for added comfort, then pair our benches with a seat pad cushion (pictured above in stone). These are thinner than full cushions but can still provide some padding and are easy to remove and clean.

  • Throws
    On cooler days or evenings, drape a cosy throw blanket over your bench to keep warm while you relax with a warm drink.

  • Armrests
    Look for benches with armrests to make it easier to sit down and stand up and provide a place to rest your arms for reading, etc.

  • Backrest
    Also, look for benches with a backrest that is ergonomically curved to create a comfortable natural seating position.

  • Shade
    If you don’t have it, pair your bench with a garden structure, planting or a Patio Umbrella so the bench is comfortable to use during hot weather.

  • Privacy
    Create a sense of privacy and enclosure around the bench to make the space feel more secluded and cosy to ensure you can kick back and relax.

  • Planting
    Add potted plants, flowers, or small trees around the bench to blur the lines between furniture and garden.

  • Garden Rugs
    Place an outdoor rug underneath the bench to define the seating area and add a touch of luxury underfoot.

  • Maintenance
    You won’t want to sit on a dirty bench, so keep it clean and well-maintained. Protect it with a garden furniture cover to save on cleaning.

Mix and match these suggestions to create a comfortable and inviting outdoor seating area that suits your needs and enhances your enjoyment of your outdoor space.

4. How to incorporate planting around your garden bench

How to incorporate planting around your garden bench

One of the best ways to enhance your patio is to pair a metal garden bench with planting. Lots of it.

By incorporating greenery you help bring your home, garden and patio together and create a calming natural spot.

These are our tips on how to do this effectively:

  1. Select the right plants
    You want to select plants that are suitable for the growing conditions in your garden. Take into account the amount of sunlight, soil type, and climate. Go for varieties that are low-maintenance and provide lots of visual interest in terms of colour, texture and fragrance.

  2. Frame the bench with planting
    You can use containers or raised planting beds around the bench. Make sure the plants you’ve chosen can thrive in pots if you go down that route. Use tall structural planting and position them to frame the bench and create a focal point.

  3. Layer your planting scheme
    Use a variety of plant types, sizes and heights to create depth and visual interest. For example, you can plant beds around your bench with a combination of ground covers, shrubs, and taller perennials. Pop the taller plants towards the back of the planting area and the ground plants to the fore to add depth.

  4. Add fragrant planting closer to your bench
    Incorporate fragrant plants such as lavender, roses, or jasmine, to make the bench a calming space to sit that’s filled with beautiful scents.

  5. Think about seasonal interest
    Include evergreens like boxwood, holly, or dwarf conifers to keep year-round interest and structure. Choose a mix of plants that provide seasonal interest throughout the year, including blooms in spring and summer, colourful foliage in autumn, and evergreen foliage in winter.

  6. Keep the bench area clean and well-maintained
    Regular pruning and trimming will help to keep the area looking its best and prevent them from encroaching on the bench itself. Remove dead heads and keep the area around the bench tidy by regularly sweeping up fallen leaves and debris.

The combination of comfortable bench seating and a well-designed planting scheme is one of the best ways to really enhance the space.

Our resident expert, Lee, aka The Garden Ninja, has some great articles on our blog such as his 8 bulletproof plants for the lazy gardener and The perfect trees and shrubs for year-round interest if you need any more help in choosing the right blooms.

If you have any photos of your Metal Garden Bench, then we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload them.

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