Let our DIY outdoor bench ideas spark your imagination and set you dreaming of innovative new seating ideas for your plot. From simple but designs to sleek built-in models, there’s something to suit your plot and budget.
With more of us spending quality time outside and appreciating our very own alfresco patch, finding somewhere quiet and pleasant to sit and escape to is rapidly shooting to the top of our gardening wish lists. Benches are not just for sitting on either. They also make attention-grabbing focal points and beautiful standout features that are perfect for framing with planters, scented climbers and stunning lighting.
While there are plenty of gorgeous outdoor benches on offer, designing and making your own is a hugely satisfying way to change up your patio furniture ideas. It’s the chance to flex those creative skills and create something truly unique that complements your plot perfectly and is an opportunity not to be ignored.
So, whether you are after a solo spot to retreat to for a peaceful read (or sneaky snooze), or to party and catch up with friends, now is the time to put your DIY skills to good use.
Take a seat with these 12 DIY outdoor bench ideas
From cost-effective options that need minimal DIY work to sleeker, built-in garden benches that will require more planning and skills, there are plenty of ways to incorporate a unique seating spot into your outdoor space. These DIY outdoor bench ideas are the best place to start your creative journey.
1. Create simple benches with timber slats
If you fancy a pared-back design that lets your planting and color palette do the talking, opt for a series of simple interlocking wooden boxes to create some really versatile garden bench ideas.
Go for structures of different heights and sizes so they can also double as handy side tables or a lower child-friendly perch. Choose a smooth pressure treated timber for the neatest results and let the surface silver and age gracefully for a naturally elegant look.
Accessorize your outdoor seating ideas with all-weather friendly seat pads and bring out your favorite statement cushions when the sun is out to create the ultimate comfy spot.
2. Construct a sturdy frame with stone-filled gabions
Undeniably pared back but oh-so-striking, creating a garden bench from stone-filled gabions and timber is always a winner if you're searching for unique DIY outdoor furniture ideas.
Quick and pretty straightforward to do, you can tailor the size of the seat to make the most of your space and choose the gabion filling to echo or contrast with the rest of your backyard.
Dark slate paddlestones, craggy rockery stone or even smooth river-worn pebbles are perfect and create very different effects. It’s also worth knowing that gabions only need enough attractive stone for the facing sides, while the centre can be filled with inexpensive materials such as concrete blocks or hardcore, making them a perfect option if cheap garden ideas are top of your agenda.
‘If people want to make their own bench then gabions are readily available online, as are nice big cobbles to fill them,' says designer John Brennan from Yorkshire Gardens (opens in new tab).
3. Make a cheap bench from timber pallets
When it comes to DIY projects for your backyard, simple pallet furniture ideas are head to beat in terms of cost effectiveness.
What's more, learning how to build a pallet bench might be easier than you think. This simple design is made by simply stacking two pallets on top of one another to create the base for the bench, while a third section forms the backrest. Want to keep it even more streamlined? Simply place the base against a garden wall and you won't need to add the backrest section.
4. Design a bench that works for wildlife too
Whether you have a dedicated area for a wildlife garden in your plot or just a quiet, secluded spot, combining a simple DIY outdoor bench with a log pile is a great idea.
‘Woodpiles are a valuable habitat for mosses, lichens and fungi, as well as many insects,' say the team at the RSPB (opens in new tab). 'Leave it in direct contact with the ground, in dappled shade and in compact piles to maintain humidity. Larger diameter pieces are of most value, but even small twigs and branches should not be discounted.’
Use smooth timber planks to construct two simple uprights, sturdy enough to support the horizontal seat boards, and then pack the space underneath with cut logs of varying thicknesses. All the timber will gradually silver overtime and become a habitat to a rich tapestry of algae, lichen, moss, insects and even tiny mammals.
5. Customize an outdoor bench with color
Park-style benches with their ornate cast-iron sides and curving backs add undeniable elegance to any outside space, whether it’s a tiny balcony, quiet courtyard or more expansive leafy garden. But did you know that they are really easy to customize or even rebuild, if needed.
Salvage yards often have pairs of vintage bench sides that are just in need of a little TLC and perhaps some new hardwood timber slats.
Stamp your mark on your upcycled bench by getting creative with some colorful garden furniture ideas. Exterior wood paints are great for experimenting with and are readily available in smaller tester pots too – ideal if you wish to use several different colors in one design. The graduated effect on the design pictured adds a quiet elegance to the garden.
Before embarking on a painting project like this, make sure you follow our tips on how to clean outdoor furniture to ensure you have a dirt-free surface for the paint to adhere to.
6. Combine a pergola and bench in one design
If you love a DIY challenge or know someone who’s nifty with their power tools, why not have a go at learning how to build a pergola and include a built-in DIY outdoor bench in your overall design too?
Perfect for nestling in a sunny corner and surrounded by planted borders, it’s the ideal place for enjoying a quiet read. Once decorated with festoon or solar lights, lanterns or favorite plants, it will create a real focal point in your yard.
When painting garden furniture, bear in mind that it may take several coats for even coverage. ‘New softwood is the easiest to treat as the grain is nice and open so wood treatments penetrate easily, fixing well and giving a great, long-lasting coating,' say the experts at Thorndown (opens in new tab). 'Old softwood, hardwood and tropical woods can be trickier as the grain is usually a lot tighter making it harder for wood treatment to penetrate.’
7. Build a bench around a tree
How about this for a clever solution for landscaping around trees? You can celebrate the beauty a mature tree can by encircling it with a DIY garden bench.
More traditional octagonal timber benches and circular wrought-iron designs all offer a place to sit underneath the canopy and enjoy the shade and gently rustling leaves, but there are plenty of contemporary options too.
‘This bench acts as a tree seat beneath a large, mature tree, Catalpa bignoides, the Indian Bean tree,' says landscape designer James Lee (opens in new tab). 'The tree was in the garden before I was brought in for the redesign, and rather than leaving it sat in the middle of the lawn, I decided to design the tree seat as a way of anchoring the tree within the design scheme.’
Made from a combination of two different types of timber, the bold design ensures there is plenty of space around the tree for air to circulate and future growth. ‘The seating part is a hardwood called Ipe which lasts for 25 years plus without the need for oiling or staining (and it’s much better to leave the wood to fade to its natural silver grey color), and the sides/faces are Western Red Cedar battens,' he adds. 'The tree seat doubles up as a bench and also as space for the homeowners' young children to use for play and reading in the shade cast by the tree.’
8. Add bench-style seating to a garden wall
Great for making the most of limited floor space and creating a sleek, streamlined look, it can quickly become the favorite spot for enjoying a morning coffee or well-deserved sundowner.
Concrete block-built garden walls are relatively simple and quick to construct, and chunky timber beams can be easily incorporated to form a basic bench-style seat. Use sections of stone veneer or porcelain tiles to disguise the rough concrete surface. Choose from smooth limestone effect or cut and dry-stacked stone for a more tactile finish.
9. Use patterned tiles as a surface material
Tiles are a fantastic way to inject color and pattern into your paving ideas, but they can be equally effective for decorating an outdoor bench too.
The simplest block-style bench seating can be radically transformed by adding tiles, and if you choose to keep the immediate surroundings uber-plain you can lend a true designer edge to your plot.
Simple geometric patterns, such as the monochrome designs pictured, tend to work best. Arrange them in a casual haphazard way rather than carefully orchestrated patterns, and if you do fancy going for some color, stick to just two or three shades for max impact.
10. Turn landscaping materials into a seating spot
DIY outdoor benches don’t have to be conventional and obvious. Deliberately positioning a large, smooth boulder in your garden, as part of a rockery or retaining border can double up as a handy sitting point for coffee or quiet contemplation.
When landscaping with boulders in this way, look for a shape that is smooth and has a natural dip in its surface for the most comfort. Local quarries and reclamation yards are a great hunting ground for suitable stone or contact specialist stone dealers.
The beauty of using natural stone is that it will age gracefully, adopt a host of natural lichens and algae creating a truly individual feature and will also create a natural basking point for us and wildlife to enjoy.
11. Incorporate large planters in a DIY bench
Take your planter box ideas up a level by using them as the basis for a DIY outdoor bench. With wooden battens for the seating screwed into the planters at either end, it's a simple way to make a practical garden seat that's surrounded by your favorite plants and flowers.
With planters this big, make sure you move your finished bench to your chosen location before you fill the containers with soil and compost for planting.
We love how the vibrant blue tones make this design really stand out from the crowd, but if you're a fan of more subtle garden furniture paint ideas, a muted sage green or soft gray would suit most backyard schemes.
12. Add curves for extra interest
There’s no reason why your DIY garden bench has to be straight. Sometimes a curved design can be much more inviting and add movement and structure to a space, way more than a traditional form ever could.
Whether it’s a built-in design with solid base, such as in this innovative project, a space-enhancing cantilevered form, or a sculpted snaking seat made from solid timber, block and render or even handcrafted steel, it’s a great to give your garden a truly individual showstopping feature.
This design has a distinctly coastal feel, combining chunky lengths of painted and natural larch. The gently sloping high back provides both garden privacy and shelter from brisk winds, while built-in low voltage spots accentuate the shape at night.
13. Sculpt a natural tree trunk bench
Celebrate natural beauty by creating a beautiful block-style bench from a tree trunk. Whether you are lucky enough to have a fallen tree or suitable candidate already in your garden or you need to approach a local timber yard for the right material, these benches make commanding statement seating that works beautifully with more rustic garden ideas.
Unless you happen to be a dab hand with a chainsaw, call in a tree surgeon to shape your timber. They will be able to advise and work with the natural grain to create a truly individual garden bench.
Benches like this will typically warp and crack when exposed to the elements, adding individual character and markings to your seat.
How can I make a DIY bench into a feature in my yard?
Highlight the shape and size of your DIY outdoor bench with clever planting and lighting. Underplanting a bench with a carpet of ground cover plants – try creeping thyme, black mondo grass or creeping phlox – will instantly showcase your chosen materials and design as well as helping it to blend into its surroundings.
Subtle outdoor lighting ideas can also work well. Using outdoor low voltage LED strips underneath your seat will emphasize the shape and add a completely different dimension to the night time garden without being glaringly obvious during the day.
Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey, England, and spends much of her time writing about them too.
Take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2023 to save our feathered friends
Gardens Watching garden visitors for just one hour in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2023 could help provide vital data to protect birds from the effects of climate change
By Jayne Dowle • Published
Do you need to chit potatoes? Find out what the experts say
Grow Your Own Learn how to chit potatoes before planting them in the ground and you’ll be on your way to getting an earlier and bigger harvest
By Drew Swainston • Published