Garden bench ideas – 6 ways to bring style, comfort and cosiness to your outdoor seating

Turn your outdoor space into a stylish, whimsical and romantic refuge

A turquoise-painted garden bench surrounded by flowering plants
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

There are many ways in which you can create cosy nooks in your garden or on your patio, no matter its size. But including some form of seating is a must. And nothing is as charmingly cosy as a garden bench, especially when you’re equipped with the right garden bench ideas to inject your outdoor space with style, as well as comfort.

Whether you’re looking to invest in one of the best garden benches on the market - and are wondering what to go for - or you just want to update your existing garden bench, there’s something for everyone in this expert-approved list of tips.

Reminiscent of whimsically romantic park benches, garden benches make for the perfect garden seating idea, which can be the base for anything from a fairytale-like setting to an uber modern garden idea, depending on the look you’re going for in your garden. 

A patio with a garden bench with pink cushions surrounded by flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Garden bench ideas

‘A garden bench is the perfect seating solution for any outside space,’ says Emily Murison from Gates Garden Centre. ‘It can be left outside all year round, ready to use whenever you want, and you won’t need to worry about storing it over winter.’

So what boxes should a good garden bench tick? There are a few, actually. ‘A good garden bench should be a focal point in your garden, beckoning you to sit and take in the sights, scents and sounds of your garden,’ says Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at

But as well as being inviting and stylish, it should also be hardwearing and comfortable. Among other things…

Fiona Jenkins
Fiona Jenkins

Fiona Jenkins is a UK-based landscaper with over twenty five years of experience in the industry. As a gardening expert for MyJobQuote, one of the UK's top trades-matching sites, Fiona offers her expert advice to MyJobQuote's tradespeople and homeowners.

1. Choose the right size for your garden

A garden with a white garden bench with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Proportion is an important aspect in choosing the right garden bench for you and your individual space. You don’t want anything too big and overwhelming or too small that will make zero impact and get lost in the garden. It’s in many ways similar to choosing the right sofa for your living room.

‘The size of your garden bench is a necessary consideration. You want it to be large enough to seat two or three people comfortably but not so large that it dominates the garden. Similarly, if you have a big garden a small bench may look dwarfed,’ Fiona explains.

But if you do happen to be lucky enough to boast a large garden, which you clearly won’t be able to fill with a garden bench, then try to make it a focal point instead by employing one or more of the following ideas.

2. Add cushions

A patio with a garden bench with lanterns and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Adding cushions to your bench is an easy way to bring colour, texture and pattern to your garden. It’s also the perfect option if you don’t want to commit to one idea long term as you can easily swap them out whenever you get tired of the style. Of course, opt for outdoor cushions that can take on the temperamental British weather.

‘Add some new cushions or throws to your garden bench to make it more appealing and comfortable,’ Fiona says.

The striped frilled cushion trend has been a staple in interiors for over a year now. But now, you can get in a fit-for-outdoor version, too, from the likes of Dunelm.

3. Create a pleasant view

A garden with a bench and sun loungers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

When sitting on your garden bench, you don’t want to be looking at a wall, the bins or something similarly unpleasant. You need to think about the right positioning when choosing the spot where your bench is going to live for the foreseeable future. A nice view is a must.

‘Where you place your garden bench will depend on what you want to be able to enjoy while sitting there. It could be a particular view, a sunny spot for warm days or next to your favourite flower bed,’ Fiona says.

‘Placement is key so always consider the bench’s surroundings; what garden features surround it,' agrees Jenny Davis of Forest Garden. 'Consider utilising plants to create a luscious backdrop. Or consider placing it under an arbour. This will offer shade against the sun and create an elegant focal point and resting area.’

4. Pay close attention to the material

A green metal garden bench with gardening supplies

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Bolton)

There are three garden bench materials that are most common – wood, metal and plastic. And which one is right for you will depend on your preferences.

‘High quality hardwoods, such as teak and oak, make the ideal material for garden benches,’ says Tom Clifford at Gardenstone. ‘Hardwoods are increasingly more durable and resistant to outdoor conditions than regular woods. In particular, teak is highly resistant to termites due to the natural oils it produces. Although hardwood benches are significantly more expensive it works out more economical in the long-run due to their long lasting nature.’ So do some homework into the most durable garden furniture before you buy. 

Wood also tends to be the warmest of the materials and therefore more comfortable, especially when compared to its metal counterpart.

If you're weighing up wood vs metal garden furniture, then metal does have benefits. ‘If you’re worried about weathering, wrought iron is the perfect choice due to its durability and resistance to weathering. Wrought iron requires little to no maintenance so it is good for busy homeowners, it may develop rust overtime but this is usually minimal and can be removed using a wire brush,’ Tom adds. 

And finally, there’s plastic, which can actually look very chic and can trick the eye into believing it’s wood. ‘If you prefer no maintenance beyond a wipe down at the beginning of the season with a damp cloth then a plastic garden bench will be ideal. Many recycled plastic benches resemble wooden seating but without the added maintenance,’ Fiona says. 

‘Plastic benches may be lightweight and easier to move around the garden, but there is the danger of damage during high winds,' adds Jenny. 'Plus, plastic will fade in the sun.'

5. Paint it

A turquoise-painted garden bench surrounded by flowering plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Scarboro)

A lick of paint can do wonders, especially when it comes to tired old garden benches constantly exposed to the elements. For the the ideal budget garden idea look at painting garden furniture.

‘Wooden benches are known to age overtime when exposed to air and moisture. To renew your bench and bring it back to life I recommend varnishing or painting the wood,' advises Tom.

'Start by cleaning and sanding down your garden bench and then go in with your preferred colour or finish. Not only will varnish or paint completely revitalise the look of your wooden bench but it will also help to protect from weathering.'

But it’s not just wooden benches that can benefit from this easy fix. Metal benches can also be easily updated with a coat of paint.

‘Consider painting or staining the bench to complement the garden's theme or surrounding decor,’ Emily says. ‘If you decide to paint your wooden bench, try testing an area underneath first to make sure you like the colour and use an oil-based paint to prevent flaking.’

6. Make sure it’s comfortable

A garden with a built-in wooden-slat bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/Annaick Guitteny)

‘If you plan on using your garden bench often, then comfort is key. If your bench is uncomfortable it is unlikely you will want to use it much,’ Tom says.

And one of the first points he makes is to opt for a bench design with a backrest, despite how cool and contemporary those without them look.

Similarly, Jenny further warns about choosing a metal bench which can lead to some discomfort, ‘Metals can absorb heat, and this can make them uncomfortable and on some occasions, even dangerous to touch.’

‘Wood is warm to sit on so you can use your garden bench without cushions if you prefer,' adds Fiona. 'Metal can be cold to sit on and not very comfortable for any length of time so a cushion is going to be necessary. A metal frame and wooden seat is a tried and tested combination that works very well for a garden bench.’


How do you anchor a garden bench to the ground?

Depending on the design and material, many garden benches don’t necessarily need to be anchored to the ground. But if you want the safety and security, this is what you need to do.

‘Use concrete anchors, ground spikes, or buried posts to secure the bench firmly. This prevents movement or tipping, especially in windy conditions, keeping your garden bench safe and stable,’ recommends Emily from Gates Garden Centre.

A patio with a garden bench and a brick wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

What is the best wood for outdoor benches?

Slow-growing hardwood varieties are better for garden benches than fast-growing softwood timber, albeit it is pricier. And the best hardwood that all our experts agree on is teak.

‘Sustainable hardwood like teak is a great choice for patios and gardens,' notes garden pro Emily. 'It's long lasting, durable and can withstand extreme weather conditions in the UK. Sustainable teak sourced from managed plantations is also kinder to the environment, as it is not sourced from illegal deforestation.'

We can’t wait to see what you do to enhance the style, comfort and cosiness of your garden bench.

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.