YOU START WITH SUNSHINE AND SOIL. A shovel, a rake, and a hoe. But there is one more basic, perhaps less obvious, necessity that every garden should include—a bench to sit on. A well-sited bench offers a place where you can rest, plan new plantings, and contemplate the infinite wonders of the natural world. Here's a plan for an ultrasimple bench that anyone can assemble in a couple of hours. (You don't even need a hammer or saw.) Best of all, it costs only about $25.
1. PICK YOUR FAVORITE GARDEN-GAZING VANTAGE POINT and decide what length you want to make your bench.
2. BUY A PLANK OF LUMBER that is 2 to 3 inches thick and 10 or more inches wide. (Alternatively, several planks can be combined for the look shown in the photo.) Weather-resistant wood such as white cedar is a good choice. Avoid pressure-treated CCA lumber, which can be soaked in arsenic and chromium.
3. ASK A LOCAL TREE-TRIMMING COMPANY OR FIREWOOD SUPPLIER TO CUT YOU TWO SECTIONS FROM A LOG. Each should measure slightly less in diameter than the width of your plank and about 20 inches long. Explain that you are using the sections to make a bench, and ask that the cuts be made as perpendicular to the length of the log as possible. That way the sections will sit squarely on the ground, and the plank will rest evenly across the tops. Many tree services will provide log pieces for free or for a modest cutting fee.
4. LEVEL THE AREA where you will set the log "legs" of the bench. Put the logs in place and set the plank on top. Surround the bench with your favorite fragrant flowers (and maybe a patch of catnip).