DIY outdoor bench ideas - 6 ways to add more seating to your garden on a shoestring budget

Take a pew and choose your next DIY project

wooden garden seating covered in cushions
(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

If you feel like your garden is missing something, might we suggest checking out these DIY bench ideas? A bench could be the missing piece of the puzzle that you were looking for. 

Yes, while we love the best garden furniture as much as the next person (who really loves the best garden furniture), we’re also of the opinion that no garden is complete without a bench. It’s the perfect place to sit with your morning coffee, it’s a great mid-gardening chill spot, and you can even incorporate it into a wider garden seating scheme

But who says you have to spend oodles of money on a bench for your garden? Not us. You can make a DIY outdoor bench that rivals even the best garden benches with just a few pounds in your pocket. And if you have spare material lying around the house, you could make a DIY outdoor bench for free! 

DIY outdoor bench ideas 

If you want to bring your budget garden ideas to life, you’re going to need to get your hands dirty and stretch your DIY fingers. But you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need a giant toolkit (or even a lot of skill) to make your own DIY outdoor bench. After all, there’s a DIY bench idea to suit everyone. 

1. Build a pallet bench

Garden bench made from pallets in gravel garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

In recent years, pallet furniture ideas has become increasingly popular, with handy homeowners making everything from outdoor bars to herb planters and pallet benches. 

Emma Cox from @colyer.cox.abode decided to go down the pallet bench route for her Cotswolds garden and doesn’t regret her decision at all. 

She told us, ‘We decided to use pallets for our garden bench after looking into shop-bought options which were looking very costly. We managed to collect pallets for free and were very fortunate my father-in-law built the bench for us.’

‘It turned out so much better than we hoped, saving money and giving a lovely rustic look in our cottage-style garden.’

Thankfully, it’s very easy to make a pallet bench - but there are some things you should know before making pallet furniture.

2. Transform a low garden wall

patio garden with low wall seating and wooden dining set

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re not as DIY-savvy as you’d like, transforming a low garden wall into an outdoor bench can be incredibly simple. 

After all, many people already have these low garden walls in their gardens, as they’re perfect for raised garden beds. But if you can sacrifice some blooming space in favour of cushions, it makes a super stylish seating space - especially when you incorporate this DIY outdoor bench with a table and chairs. 

How you do this depends on the state of your wall and your budget. You could simply top your garden wall with a cushion and call it a day, or you may need to put in some extra work.

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, says, ‘If you have a low wall or retaining wall in your outdoor space, you can easily turn it into a bench by adding a wooden or stone seating surface.’

Then, you can accessorise it with individual cushions or opt for a longer bench pad to cover the surface of the wall. 

3. Give a tired bench a paint job

blue painted garden bench surrounded by flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you already have a bench in your garden but feel it needs some TLC to bring it back to life, painting it is a simple and affordable DIY method. 

Sometimes, a quick lick of paint can make all the difference, similar to painting your fence or painting an ugly garden wall. This is something that Ideal Home’s Editor-In-Chief, Heather Young, has done in her own garden. 

She says, ‘We inherited a rickety old garden bench when we moved into our house. Although the wooden seat was rotten and split, the iron legs and arms were in good condition, so we gave those a lick of paint. We replaced the wooden slats and painted them to match the rest of our garden furniture. Now the bench looks good as new.'

Of course, the beauty of this DIY idea is that you can choose whatever colour you’d like. Just make sure you use paint that’s suitable for the job. 

4. Jazz up a storage box

storage box turned into a bench in a courtyard garden

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking for somewhere to store your outdoor cushions or gardening tools, a storage box is one of the best garden storage options out there. But who says a storage box is just for storage? 

The flat top of a storage box is crying out to be repurposed, and it’s incredibly easy to jazz up a storage bench and turn it into a DIY outdoor bench. All you need are some cushions, a throw or two, and some lanterns.

After all, it’s highly likely that your outdoor storage bench isn’t very stylish. But if you hide the majority of the empty space with soft finishes and practical accessories, you can hide the practical side from view and turn it into a stunning seating idea instead. 

5. Repurpose old fence posts

wooden garden seating covered in cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If rotten or broken fence panels have ruined your fence ideas, don’t get rid of them - repurpose them instead! 

Lawrie Chandler, the founder of BBQ tool maker Bison Hill, is all about following the ‘ugly philosophy,’ which involves upcycling old, local materials for festivals and pop-up events. But anyone can use the same logic in their garden, too.

He says, ‘Fence posts tend to only rot for the part in the ground. The rest can be used to make a bombproof chunky bench. A simple 'h' design with arms and you're away.’

‘Making it is pretty easy. Create two h-shaped legs and then connect them with long pieces to make the seating. Given the thickness of fence posts, usually a minimum 4 inches square, we advise to drill holes before using 70mm screws to hold it all together. Then, sand and stain to make it durable for years.’

6. Play around with concrete

Wooden fence with wooden bench and greenery

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We know what you’re thinking: DIY and concrete?! But anyone who has ever tried to buy a concrete bench for their cottage garden will know that this seating can be expensive. That’s why playing around with different concrete options could be a good idea for a DIY garden bench.

Tom Clifford, garden landscaping expert from Gardenstone explains, ‘Making a DIY concrete bench can be a fairly time-consuming task, however, it is definitely possible for those DIY-ers who are looking to challenge themselves. It consists of making a melamine form to set the concrete in, this will have to be measured and built to your desired bench dimensions.'

‘Then the concrete must be mixed ready to pour into the melamine form, making sure to level the surface and include a reinforcement wire for durability. Once dry, assemble the concrete pieces and sand to finish.’

If your skills don’t stretch that far, however, you could experiment with concrete cinder blocks instead. In fact, Heather has been eyeing this idea for a while. 

'I've had a garden bench hack on my to-do list since last year, and this summer, I'm determined to give it a go,’ she says. ‘You make the bench by slotting wood planks through the holes in upended breeze blocks, which are painted to give them a smart finish. It's a great way to knock up extra seating – perfect for summer hosting.' 


How do you make a simple garden bench?

There are so many ways to make a simple garden bench, using everything from old pallets using a low garden wall. Ultimately, you need to figure out your budget and see what you have lying around the house. 

If you want to make your own garden bench from scratch, opting for a ‘h’ design is your best bet. However, you could go for a simple plank of wood and some legs and jazz the whole thing up with cushions. 

What wood should I use for an outdoor bench?

If you have old fence posts or pallet wood, this wood will work perfectly when making a DIY outdoor bench. If you need to buy wood, however, it’s best to follow in the footsteps of pre-made garden furniture and opt for something like cedar, acacia, eucalyptus, or teak.

Need extra seating in your garden? Hopefully, these DIY outdoor bench ideas have tickled your fancy. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.