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Garden Design in Glasgow

Design Ideas for Your Garden - Informal Seating

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Design Ideas for Your Garden - Informal Seating

I really love a garden with informal places to sit, in addition to the main garden patio furniture. It is lovely to be able to wander around a garden with a cup of coffee or glass of wine and find a seat where the sun is or with a good view of the garden, a place just to sit and pause to enjoy the garden and fresh air.

So in our gardens we try and have informal seating built into the design, providing a choice of places to sit wherever the sun is at different times of the day.

An east facing spot for the morning sun, west for the evening sun and south for the sun most of the day, when it comes out that is!

In the photo below the walls around the upper terrace in Glasgow all double as comfortable 300mm wide places to sit and there’s an additional bench on the lower level as an alternative choice.

In the example below in Newlands in Glasgow, this garden has a wall retaining a raised bed which doubles as a seat around the patio. We used old brick (from Glasgow Brick Yard) to match the surrounding old brick walls and the patio paving (by Pavestone) as the wall copes, to give visual coherence to the garden. The client was in the process of planting the garden up themselves when this photo was taken. Raised beds are also more comfortable to look after and maintain.

Seats can include free standing walls as well as seating around a patio retaining raised beds. If they are designed at the right height and width that will make sure that they are comfortable to sit on.

So often we see walls around patios built at a width of 200mm which to me seems like a missed opportunity, as 200mm isn’t a very comfortable width to sit on for very long.

The height would ideally be around 500mm (no less than 250mm and no more than 600mm) and the width no less than 300mm, and a little wider for even more comfort if you want to put cushions on the wall or seat.

We often use paving as the copes of its a sandstone wall and these come in 600x300mm sizes which are ideal. If its a sleeper wall, then the 200mm wide sleepers can be doubled up to provide a width of 400mm.

An example of some built in sleeper seating combined with sandstone as a trim at the edges In Dumbreck, Glasgow.

Retaining walls are also an opportunity to provide informal places to sit. If you are levelling your garden and you need a wall higher than 500mm, then its a good idea to split it into 2 walls with a planting bed in between. The lower wall can then double up as a seat, and the planting softens the upper wall. The whole effect is less imposing than if it was one high wall.

Here’s an example below in Pollokshields in Glasgow.

Good quality garden benches are inexpensive and last for years. They can also give a focal point to a garden as well as an informal place to sit all year round. We often position them where they will catch the morning sun where you can enjoy a morning coffee. The photo below is of a Lutyens bench with a couple of pots to frame it.

Raised ponds are another opportunity to create a place to sit, and it is lovely to be near enough to the water to see it properly. Again the walls have to be wide enough to be comfortable to sit on, at least 300mm wide.

Here’s one we did in a Kirklee Courtyard, in Glasgow.

Steps too are another opportunity for informal seating, especially if they have wide treads and face the sun. Here is an example in Bothwell of steps that can be used to sit on as well as the raised beds.

Curved seating is very attractive and also creates a pleasant social space as people are facing towards each other. They also lend themselves well to having a fire-pit or table in the middle too. These can be made from natural stone or brick. Here’s one in a Glasgow garden.

This one is in a small Paisley garden.

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Decking Ideas

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Decking Ideas

Over the last 25 years we have used a variety of materials to build decks, and until recently used either treated softwood or hardwood, (often Yellow Balau) for our decking projects such as the photo above in Giffnock, Glasgow.

For the last couple of years we have been increasingly using a type of composite decking made by Millboard, which looks like real wood and doesn’t require maintenance.

Low maintenance has become a high priority for most clients in recent times, and is often at the top of the design brief we are given for garden design. What we have found is that most people don’t have the time to keep their timber decking in top condition due to the amount of upkeep and maintenance involved. This upkeep is especially necessary in our wet climate and doubly so if the position of your deck is in a North facing position, where it doesnt receive much sunlight. This means that the deck remains wet for longer. It then easily becomes slippy and very hazardous to walk on. In South facing positions where the deck receives more sun and gets a chance to dry out more, the effect is lessened. However it will still become slippy unless it is given regular attention. This applies to both softwood and hardwood decks. Here is a Yellow Balau deck that we did in Bishopton near Glasgow.

The other disadvantage of timber decking, and this applies to timber fencing too, is that timber when outdoors fades to grey eventually unless the UV from the sunlight is blocked by way of a coloured oil or stain. This is because UV light breaks down the lignin in the wood. Some people really like this look, and the grey can look quite contemporary in the right setting.

We have had clients who have kept their decks in top condition, and have been willing to put in the considerable time and money to maintain them. If you choose to go down the route of timber decking we would recommend regular cleaning and the application of a penetrating oil with a tint and we have had good results with Osmo Oil. Clear oils do not block the effect of the UV and the deck will go grey eventually. Many deck stains and paints just sit on the surface and eventually look scruffy as they wear off due to weathering and footfall.

A few years ago we used composite deck for the first time, it was a type that the client, an architect, chose. It looked good and it was a high quality one, but it had a bit of shiny surface which was a little slippy and it looked like plastic trying to be wood. I have found this to be the case with most of the composite decks on the market.

Then we discovered Millboard after I visited a client who had a Millboard Deck a few years ago. I was very impressed by the appearance, and could hardly believe that it wasn’t timber. We have been using Millboard decking ever since, if the client’s budget allows. It is very expensive, but it is beautiful, it is not slippy and comes in a matt finish, attractive colours and best of all, no maintenance.

I would be happy to advise you on the various options and costs, please call us on 0141 429 6267 for a free initial consultation



Grey Millboard for a project in Bearsden, Glasgow

Grey Millboard for a project in Bearsden, Glasgow

Smoked Oak MillBoard Decking in Merrylee, Glasgow

Smoked Oak MillBoard Decking in Merrylee, Glasgow

Millboard Deck in Newton Mearns, Glasgow

Millboard Deck in Newton Mearns, Glasgow

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