Seated in Style


Picture yourself seated between two of your favourite shrubs – all cosy together on this unusual bench – while you admire the view of your garden. This project demands only a minimum level of skill using a jigsaw and belt sander and it’s easily done over a weekend.

What you Need
SA pine, CCA-treated, cut as follows:
3 x 1500 x 228 x 38 mm
1 x sheet of masonite (approximately 750 x 500 mm)
Wood glue
Woodoc wood sealer (deep brown)

Carpenter’s sash clamps, electric drill and 10 mm drill-bit, jigsaw, belt sander, orbital sander, and a paintbrush.


1. Apply wood glue to the edges of the 3 pieces of timber that will be bonded together to form the bench top, and then clamp them tightly together with the sash clamps. Remove any excess glue with a damp sponge.

2. Take the piece of masonite and draw one-half of a curved pattern – including a traced, round hole for the pot plant – as shown. Then cut this pattern out using the jigsaw.

3. Once the glued timber has dried,place your masonite template on it at one end, and then trace the pattern onto the wood. Then flip the template over, and trace the pattern on the other end – thus forming the outline of the seated bench top.

4. Drill a hole into the timber at a point on the marked outline, and then use the jigsaw to cut out along the template.

5. Use the belt sander to sand the top smooth, and then round the outer edges evenly. To get a finer finish, sand again with the orbital sander. Apply 3 coats of Woodoc wood sealer – allowing each coat to dry before applying the next one.

6. Choose 2 pot planters which have a diameter not exceeding that of the curved ends of the seated bench top. Half fill them with potting soil, and then position them directly underneath the 2 holes cut into your bench top. Then feed the roots of your chosen plant through the holes and into the pots – before filling them with a suitable planting medium

Recommended Plants for your Bench
Select plants that are neat and tidy with no thorns, toxic sap or messy leaves. Here are a few suggestions that fit the bill.

  • Syzygium Paniculatum (Australian Brush Cherry) – quick-growing evergreen tree with small leaves. Keep them trimmed into standards in order to maintain a neat, tidy appearance.
  • Murraya Exotica (Orange Jasmine) – an evergreen shrub producing fragrant white flowers. Grow as a bush or train into neat, single stemmed standards.
  • Nandina Domestica (Sacred Bamboo) – tall, upright clump forming shrub with colourful foliage in autumn and winter.
  • Cupressus Macrocarpa ‘Gold Crest’ – pyramid-shaped conifer with lemon scented, golden foliage.
  • Olea Europaea subsp. Africana (Wild Olive) – evergreen, indigenous tree that makes a fine potted specimen in the drier climates. Can also be trimmed into a formal standard.
  • Heteropyxis Natalensis (Lavender Tree) – small, dainty tree with silvery bark and aromatic foliage.
The Gardener