Building a tree bench
Radio interview source: Kevin Boyle, senior design editor, WOOD magazine
It's hard to pick a favorite view when you have a beautiful place in the country. With a bench that wraps around a shady tree, you've got a comfortable spot to gaze upon your property in every direction! Just make sure to give your tree room to grow, and you'll have a wonderful sitting spot for years to come. To avoid damaging the tree, Kevin Boyle, the senior design editor for WOOD magazine, suggests confirming how large the tree is going to get before building around it.
"There are plenty of books out there that are going to give you ideas on the average size of this tree, and a forestry expert if you need more specifics. But you would not want any part of that bench resting against the tree.”
Boyle says it’s best to position the bench a distance of three-to-four inches from the trunk. If the surface under the tree is a little uneven, adjust the length of the bench legs to accommodate jutting roots or dips in the ground. There are designs for circular tree benches, square wooden platforms that spread out under the shade, and a pinwheel-shaped bench that creates more of a conversation nook. Many circular tree bench designs include a back, which would be nice to lean against, but might make construction more complicated.
"I think if you’re forcing yourself to get into compound angles, that’s where the complexity comes into play. If you’re keeping a bench on a flat, single plane without a back, you’re going to keep your angle cuts to a minimum."
Build the bench in separate portions and fit those around the tree into place. The type of fasteners used depends on the material you select for the bench. Composite decking works best with the fasteners designed for the product, but if you use cedar, redwood, or treated wood decking material, exterior-grade screws will be fine.
For more information, we recommend these links:
Tree bench: Here's a materials list and illustrated, step-by-step instructions for building your own tree bench, courtesy of our sister site, BHG.com. You can find additional plans from trusted sources here.
Garden bench with trellis: If you don't have a tree suitable for a wrap-around bench, download this plan from WOOD magazine. The bench is attached to a trellis and arbor. Plant a flowering vine next to your creation and enjoy the shade.
The many moods of garden benches: The right bench in just the right spot can turn your garden into an outdoor retreat. Browse this slideshow of beautiful benches.
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