How to Build a Garden Bench Around a Tree

Written by michele m. howard
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A hexagon-shaped bench around a tree provides additional interest to your backyard and extra seating space when entertaining. The basic bench is designed with 3 boards per section and is supported with 6 leg assemblies. Your choice in material can include decking lumber or redwood planks. A do-it-yourself homeowner with some experience in small carpentry projects can complete this project in one weekend.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Calculator
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Mitre saw
  • Decking lumber
  • 1/4-inch spacers
  • Straight edge
  • 1-inch by 4-inch lumber
  • Clamps
  • Drill with drill bits
  • Galvanised carriage bolts
  • Hammer
  • Washers and nuts
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Wood screws
  • Carpenter's level
  • Shovel (optional)

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  1. 1

    Measure the diameter of the tree's truck in inches. Add 6 inches to this measurement if the tree is mature or add 12 inches for a young tree. Divide this number by 1.75. This will be the inside length, in inches, for the innermost bench boards around the tree.

  2. 2

    Cut 6 boards at this length and with a 30-degree mitre cut on each end. Lay the boards around the tree, butting the angled corners against each other. Check to see that there is enough room between the tree and the boards.

  3. 3

    Lay one of the inner boards on a flat surface. Lay two more boards parallel to this one. Put spacers between the boards. Use a straight edge and pencil to extend the 30-degree angled cut from the first board to the other two boards. Cut the 2 boards to size and repeat this for the other 5 sides of the bench.

  4. 4

    Check the accuracy of the cuts by laying all 5 sides on a flat surface. Arrange them in a hexagon from the smaller, innermost board to the largest. Butt the angled corners against each other and make any necessary adjustments.

  5. 5

    Measure and cut 2 bench support boards, or legs, to the desired bench height. These boards will be sandwiched between 2 cross stringers (the 1 x 4 boards). Measure and cut the stringers to match the width of the bench.

  6. 6

    Clamp the 2 legs between the stringers and drill 2 bolt holes per leg through the stringers. Insert a carriage bolt into each hole and tape each one to set it into the wood. Turn the legs over and add a washer and nut to each bolt. Tighten the nuts with an adjustable wrench until the washer starts to compress the wood. Repeat this process to make 5 more leg sections.

  7. 7

    Lay 6 boards, for 2 bench sections, upside down on a flat surface. Arrange them from the smaller, innermost board to the largest and place spacers between the boards. Position 1 leg assembly, upside down, directly over the joint where the 2 bench sections come together. Drill screws diagonally through the stringers and legs into the underneath side of the bench boards.

  8. 8

    Position another leg assembly over each outer edge of the two-section assembly. With them hanging halfway over the edge, drive screws diagonally through the stringer into the underneath side of the bench boards.

  9. 9

    Flip the two-section assembly upright, onto the 3 legs. Be careful as the assembly is not very sturdy at this point. Drill screws through the top bench boards into the stringers below. Countersink the screw heads to keep them below the surface. Repeat this process to make another two-section assembly.

  10. 10

    Position the two sections around the tree, opposite each other and one seat section apart. Avoid placing them with the legs on top of roots and, if necessary, dig out any soil to ensure the bench is level.

  11. 11

    Connect these sections together with the remaining boards. Securely attach the boards to the leg assemblies and countersink the screws.

Tips and warnings

  • This project is easier when another person assists you while assembling the seat sections.
  • Apply a sealer to keep the bench from weathering and to extend its life.
  • Other design options are a backrest and an apron under the outer seat boards.

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