Fence Bench

 

The following project is provided by licensed landscape contractor Sara Bendrick.

Level:
Beginner to intermediate
Cost: $$
Time commitment: One Afternoon
Professionals Needed: None
Dimensions: 27½" W ×99" L ×27" H

Adding seating to any yard is always a bonus, but tying it into an existing feature makes it that much more interesting and a better use of space. My buddy Maurice Temple and I came up with this idea when trying to squeeze some seating into a small area. It’s simple, straightforward and pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.


 

TOOLS
  • 6' level
  • Drill and drill bits for pilot holes,
    countersink bit (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Hand tamper
  • Miter or circular saw
  • 2' level
  • Paintbrush
    (optional, if using stain)

MATERIALS
  • Six 2" × 6" × 10' boards
  • Two pieces cut to 23½", for under bench support
  • Five pieces cut to 88", for seat bench
  • Four pieces cut to 27½", for armrest and side bench
  • Four 2" × 4" × 10' boards
  • One piece cut to 99", for bench back support
  • Two pieces cut to 23½", for under bench support
  • Four pieces cut to 12", for vertical arm support
  • Twelve pieces cut to 15", for decorative diamonds
  • Two pieces cut to 26", for side arms
  • One 4" × 4" × 8' board, cut to four 16" pieces (if sitting flush on ground) or cut to 22” (if set in concrete)
  • One 1-lb box of 2½" exterior deck screws
  • One 1-lb box of 2" exterior deck screws
  • Eight GRK 2" lag screws
  • 50-lb bag of ¾" gravel
  • Stain (optional)
  • Three 27½" wide × 33" long cushions (optional)



Step 1: Select your location

 

Fences can be long and boring; select a space in your yard that could use a little breaking up and some added interest. I chose an area that is lightly shaded so it is comfortable most of the time and right next to the bocce ball court so that players can have an audience (or a rest). You don’t need a lot of space, but make sure you have minimally 2 feet of walking distance in front of it. Most fences need a little modifying to support the extra weight of people sitting on the bench, so I removed all the fence boards and added a 2 × 4 support rail about 18 inches up from the ground. You can put the old fence boards back or replace them with new ones, which lets all the wood


Step 2: Mark the support stringer

 

Using a 6-foot level, mark a straight line 18 inches up and 99 inches across. This is for the supporting stringer on the other side of the fence and gives you a reference as to where you will be attaching your lumber.


Step 3: Make the bench back

 

Using the drill, secure with exterior screws the two 23½” 2 × 6s on the end of each side of your cut 99” 2 × 4s. Then measure 28 inches from the inside edge of your 2 × 6 and attach a 23½” 2 × 4 piece. Repeat on the other side so you have an inside open-space measurement of 25½ inches.


Step 4: Attach the bench back

 

Use the reference line that you marked in step 2 to attach your bench back. Secure with exterior screws and check your level.


Step 5: Add the posts

 

Below where the posts will go, dig about 4 inches deep and 8 inches wide, fill with gravel and tamp down. Seat the 4 × 4 posts on the gravel and attach to the underside of the 2 × 4s and 2 × 6s with exterior screws. Two 4 × 4 posts will be placed lining up with the outside edge of the 2 × 6 top support on each side. The other 4 × 4s will be attached directly below the 2 × 4 supports placed in step 3.


Step 6: Attach the seat bench

 

Take all five of the 88-inch 2 × 6-inch boards and line them up 1½ inches in on either side of the bench support. This will leave 4 inches exposed on either side.


Step 7: Attach the seat sides

 

Take the 27½” 2 × 6 boards and secure them on the ends. They will overhang the 4 × 4 posts by 1½ inches, just enough to fit the 23½” 2 × 4 securely. Attach the 2 × 4 on each side to the 4 × 4 posts with exterior screws.


Step 8: Make the armrests

 

Make one of your armrests by lining up two of the 12” 2 × 4s with the bottom of the horizontal 2 × 4. Measure 4 inches from the fence and attach one 2 × 4 with two 2“ lag screws, then measure 4 inches from the front of the bench and attach with two 2” lag screws on the other 2 × 4 armrest support. Repeat on the other side. Cap off each vertical 2 × 4 with a 26” 2 × 6.


Step 9: Make the decorative diamonds

 

These are super simple, and they finish off the bench and make it unique. With a miter saw, cut the edges on all twelve 15” 2 × 4s with a 45-degree angle so that they make three perfect diamonds. Assemble the diamonds on the ground, securing 2” screws 1 inch up from each corner to secure the mitered edges at the outside corners. Use a level to mark out the locations of the diamonds. Find the center of the bench and measure up 12 inches; this is where the center diamond’s bottom point will be. The diamonds are spaced 12 inches point to point on each side. Attach each corner of the assembled diamonds to the fence with 2” screws.


Step 10: Stain the wood, if desired

 

Apply stain with a paintbrush or rag if desired, and let dry completely. I chose to leave the cedar raw so it could age and blend in with the cedar fence. Pop in your cushions, take a seat and enjoy the fruits of your hard work!




About the Author - Sara Bendrick

 

Licensed landscape contractor, author and TV personality, Sara Bendrick, is best known for her work as the host of I Hate My Yard where she tackles the tough yards of homeowners and shows them the possibilities that exist for their exterior spaces. Sara shares her passion for improving spaces through landscape design by serving as an expert source of information and tips for STIHL customers and homeowners.


Reprinted with permission from Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Joe Dodd.