August 15, 2011

A Moment of Rest in a Toronto Garden

Ideas for a shady spot to rest, reflect and not see your neighbour's dump of a backyard!

Every garden needs a spot of repose, a place to actually sit, rest, look and listen. My client C. has a small garden which I had re-designed about five years ago and the space is evolving into something special and unique. We addressed the poor drainage, mediocre soil and marginal privacy concerns over time to create a lush and quiet zone that also has a dry stream bed to handle a downspout's flow and a very large and hyper-efficient composter. It's been a successful match of form and function!

Zen cedar bench and cedar privacy screen in a quiet corner by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
An inviting place to relax, meditate and contemplate

A back corner offered views of a neighbour's messy backyard and little privacy. We didn't want anything as ugly as a panel of board on board fencing and a plastic patio chair as part of a solution for a place for private rest. As the above picture tries to show, I decided on utilizing strongly horizontal elements from the Japanese garden style by creating a wooden screen made from stained 1 by 1s. This offered subtle privacy without the need for a wall.  It also gives you a "prize" for scanning all around the garden in the form of a focal point. (Note: three Emerald cedars planted in this full shade corner do not constitute a winning prize.) Pea gravel underneath complements the naturalism in the shady back.

Plan view of zen cedar bench by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Top view of a cedar zen bench 

Here's a detail of the bench I built (!) made from cedar 2 by 4s and 4 by 4s. (Sorry, I haven't figured out avoiding the over-exposure of some pics but I think you can extrapolate the rest of the bench.) 

A coating of semi-transparent stain and 3 coats of urethane were applied, with sanding in between. No metal brackets or mortises and tenons were used: instead, I drilled pocket holes using the Kreg jig and exterior screws to connect the legs and side pieces.  

The dimensions are roughly 48" long by 18" tall by 18" wide to provide ample seating for one or two.  While I am definitely not a carpenter, it was a very interesting project to complete from concept, assembly, and client presentation. Just don't ask me to make another one. 

(A huge thanks to a good friend, the "Man with All the Tools", Trace, for helping out with the final finishing!)

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