Columbia GB
Columbia GB
  • Hometalker
  • Salida, CO

Mixed Media Garden Bench

3 Materials
2 Days

We moved to a new house last summer and I've been redoing the yard to better meet our needs. This includes slightly leveling a slope in the backyard. I've just finished the basics on the lower tier and wanted a permanent seating area. I also wanted to use up some of the extra materials laying around, since the property is fast approaching the point of 'use it or lose it'. So, the bench was primarily made from 'stuff' laying around.

mixed media garden bench

It all started with a large piece of old wood and some glazed cinder blocks we picked up at a farm last fall. The wood was free and the blocks were 25 cents each. At the time, we didn't know exactly what would be done with the blocks, so we ended up choosing different sizes and shapes.

So at this point, I didn't know if I actually had enough compatible blocks to use as a bench. I played around with them for a bit(heavy!) and was able to come up with a complete structure that fit together well enough and looked pleasing to me. So, the project was given the green light.

mixed media garden bench

One of the reasons we took the wood home was because it had some interesting features. It was probably these same features that made it unusable a long time ago.

mixed media garden bench

The wood was crusted with dirt from decades of sitting in a field and it had started to rot in places.

mixed media garden bench

So, I took a plastic scrub brush, some Simple Green and using the Jet setting on the hose sprayer got to work giving it a good scrub, followed by a thorough rinse.

I then let it dry for a week or so. Once dried, I applied 3 or more coats, on all surfaces, of PC-Petrifier Wood Hardener. Basically, the product instructions say to keep applying until the wood no longer soaks it up.

Note: The pretrifier is generally used to stabilize the wood on rotten window sills before filling and painting.

Here's what it looks like immediately after applying and still wet. The pooling of the product lets you know the wood can't soak up any more. Once dry, it will be clear.

mixed media garden bench

The features really started to pop.

mixed media garden bench

Some of the areas went super dark and had that charred wood effect that is popular right now. Unfortunately, it dried back to the original color.

mixed media garden bench

When initially testing the wood and blocks for sturdiness etc. (and I did a lot of testing on this; i.e. sat on the far edges, bounced around, stood on it, put two people on and did more bouncing around) I noticed the height was only 13" from the ground. This is much too low for my taste. I might as well be sitting on a log...

So, while the wood dried, I went back to the scrap piles looking for more 'things' I could use to build up the height. I found a few more items that would raise it another 7" and bring the total height to 20". Perfect!

With the wood now dry, it was time to start the build.

For the first layer of the bench, I used four(4) 12"x12" pavers that had been left on the property and I assume never used because they had house paint on them.

Because these pavers would form the foundation pad for the bench, they had to be as level as I could get them. Essentially, I would be building a mini wall. So, any unevenness would be compounded with each succeeding layer. This took a bit of time, but was well worth the effort.

Rather then using sand under the pavers, I set them directly into my landscape rock. I'm using slag which has a rough surface texture and grips itself. For this reason, it's often used for driveways and parking lots. I had already set other pavers using this stuff and they haven't budged, so I knew I would be fine doing this.

mixed media garden bench

The next layer was some leftover rumble stone.

mixed media garden bench

Followed by a layer of treated lumber.

mixed media garden bench

Followed by the glazed block.

mixed media garden bench

At this point my camera battery died and the sun was setting. Basically, I added another layer of treated lumber and then the petrified wood top.

Here's the finished bench the following morning.

mixed media garden bench

The wood petrifier dried a little too shiny for this project, but that's okay. I'm not going to put any outdoor poly on this, because I really don't want to spend more money or time on it. If it lasts 5 years, that's okay, it can always be replaced.

mixed media garden bench

We tested this again for sturdiness and it's still solid. With the exception of the treated lumber, each layer is really heavy. Plus, if I ever want to move it, give it away or throw it away, it will be easy to break down; I won't have to take a sledge to it. Works for me!

mixed media garden bench

I had coffee on the bench this morning; just me, the western tanagers, and the little lizards. I love it! It was easy to make, cost me under $26 and I got rid of a bunch of scrap.

FYI: If you do something like this, you should glue it together!

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2 of 11 comments
  • Robyn Garner
    on Jun 18, 2019

    Those glazed cinder blocks are crazy kewl! I think you got a great deal on them at $0.25/each. Hang onto them as they may be worth something. The project looks terrific.

  • Joanie
    31 minutes ago

    I think it looks terrific!!!! It hardly cost you anything and if it gets damaged from a storm or whatever......not much to worry about. For now, I think I would keep doctoring it up by painting or staining the wood to match the bar top and paint the blocks of choice. IT DOES HAVE MORE potential.......keep going!!!

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