Build your own tree bank – instructions & tips

Wooden tree benches offer a very special charm. With some craftsmanship it is relatively easy to build such a tree bank yourself. You can find instructions here.

Build your own tree bank
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The house tree is the centre of the garden, a popular meeting place and an atmospheric and nostalgic place to relax and leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind. All this can be underlined when a tree bench invites you to linger. Tree banks are built completely or only partially around the tree. Thus a comfortable and shady place of retreat is found. Now we would like to tell you what is important when building such a bench, which wood you should use and how a tree bench can be built and creatively designed yourself.

Does a tree bank fit into my garden?

This question is easily answered: If you have a stately garden tree, this is the perfect place for a tree bank. Space problems should not occur as a rule, because the area around the house tree is usually free and consists of grass. Even in small gardens, where there may not be enough space for a larger seating group, the tree bench can be an alternative. If the tree bank is constructed completely around the tree, as is the case in our example, then five to seven people can gather there and even the extended family has found a cosy place and a shady place on hot summer days.

Which wood should be used?

Tree benches for the garden are preferably made of wood, as they look particularly warm and cosy and fit very well into the natural environment. Which wood you ultimately choose is worth some considerations. After all, the tree bank should be preserved for many years to come.

In general, it may be assumed that only hard tropical woods are really suitable for outdoor use. Tropical wood is hard and robust, but it is ecologically much more welcome to use native woods. You will also feel this in your wallet. Tropical timber is not fully available, is often illegally harvested and is transported to us over long distances.

“Tip: If tropical timber bears the FSC label, it is proven that it comes from sustainable management.

Domestic woods can be used for the tree bank in any case. However, the wood should not remain untreated. Otherwise it will quickly lose its pretty colour and grain and appear grey and blotchy. If the woods are regularly painted with wood oil or wood glaze, you will retain their beauty and natural radiance for many years.

“Tip: It is best to provide the wood of the tree bank with an appropriate wood preservation each year and at the beginning of the garden season.

These native woods are best suited for the tree bank:

type of wood Description of the
  • Oak wood is heavy and quite firm.
  • Here the American white oak is to be preferred particularly.
  • The stable wood is often used as construction timber.
sweet chestnut
  • The wood of the sweet chestnut is lighter than oak, yet extremely firm and elastic.
  • Chestnut wood can be processed very well and does not splinter when sawn or drilled.
  • The sweet chestnut has a high tannin content, which makes it resistant to moisture.
  • The sweet chestnut is even used in pile dwellings.
  • The wood does not have to be impregnated annually and retains its natural beauty for many years.
  • If you are looking for a hard and heavy domestic wood, the larch is the first choice.
  • The wood is extremely resistant and durable and is frequently used in bridge construction and hydraulic engineering.

Build your own tree bank – explained step by step

❖ Tools:

  • wooden boards
  • wood glue
  • wood screws
  • cordless screwdriver
  • rechargeable drills
  • chop saw
  • hauling saw
  • angle

❖ Work steps:

❶ Cutting wooden planks for the legs
❷ Mounting legs
❸ Cut a wooden board for the seat
❹ Mounting the seat to the legs
❺ Applying veneers
❻ Cutting wooden planks for the backrest
❼ Fasten backrest to lower section
❽ Assemble tree bench completely
❾ Attach tree bank to tree

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For a medium-sized tree bench, which can accommodate about five people and runs around the entire tree, wooden boards in the following dimensions are required for the six legs:

  • front legs – six boards (7x7x43 cm)
  • Backrest – Six boards (7×3,5x86cm)
  • upper side part – twelve boards (7×3,5x50cm)
  • lower side part – twelve boards (7×3,5x45cm)

❖ manual:

Attach the lower side section to the front legs and backrest at a height of two centimetres from the lower edge. The front leg is indented by four centimetres and ends with the upper side part. The upper edge of the two side parts is flush with the upper edge of the backrest.

How much wood is used for the seat depends on the size of your garden tree.

These recommendations apply again to a medium-sized tree and a bench that runs completely around the trunk.

1. board – one meter outer dimension, 81 cm inner dimension
2. board – 81 cm outer dimension, 65 cm inner dimension
3. board – 65 cm outer dimension, 49 cm inner dimension

Step one:
You will need about 18 wooden boards two centimetres wide and 15 centimetres long. The boards are now cut to size. Make sure that the ends are at an angle of 30 degrees. Now screw the three boards together with the legs of the tree bank. Start from the middle of the backrest.

Step two:
If the boards are additionally veneered, the tree bank scores with an attractive appearance, furthermore injury risks can be avoided, since the wooden edges are no longer visible and therefore cannot splinter. The boards for the veneering are also cut at an angle of 30 degrees.

“Tip: You will need six wooden boards measuring 3.5 x 7 cm x one metre.

Step three:
The veneers are now screwed to the legs. Now install the backrest. For this purpose twelve wooden boards of 1.8 x 12 cm are used. The length is different and varies between 40 cm and 46 cm. Here, too, an angle of 30 degrees at the ends must be observed when cutting to size. Furthermore, 10 percent inclination must be taken into account. The 40 cm long boards are used for fastening to the upper backrest. The 46 cm long wooden slats are screwed to the lower backrest.

Step four:
Now the tree bank is ready. To place them in place, the screws on the side must be loosened again. Be careful not to glue the wood here yet. Now the two halves are arranged around the trunk and aligned. It is often necessary to level out any unevenness with pieces of wood or the application of gravel or crushed stone. Finally, the two side parts are glued and screwed together. Now you can tighten all screws firmly and reward yourself with the first sample sitting.

Tree benches made of metal – an alternative?

Although our contribution refers to the wooden tree bank, we would like to mention the metal tree bank. After all, it offers an alternative to all those who do not want to try their hand at building a tree bank themselves. Metal tree benches are available in a wide variety of designs.

The advantages of metal are obvious. It is a robust and weatherproof material. This means that the metal bench does not have to appear cold and sober. Often the metal benches are equipped with elaborate ornaments and appeal to the heart of romantics. If you want to enjoy a sturdy and durable tree bench, a metal bench kit may be an alternative for you.

Tree benches from pallets

Furniture made of pallets for indoor and outdoor use is very much in vogue. After all, the material is inexpensive to obtain and extremely flexible. Pallets are easy to process and can also be stacked on top of each other without any problems because their size is standardised. It is certainly worth experimenting with pallets and creating extraordinary tree benches. However, some manual dexterity will be necessary and you will need to equip yourself with professional tools, such as an electric chestnut, to process the material.

Further creative ideas for the individual tree bank

By using different woods and wood thicknesses, multifaceted tree benches can be constructed. While thinner woods look rather filigree, a rustic appearance can be given by the use of rough wood slats of the tree bank.

The tree bench with armrests provides extra comfort. Five to eight comfortable seats can be created on an average-sized tree bench.

Tree banks do not have to run automatically as a curve around the trunk. Square constructions are also a nice idea. If the bank runs as a square around the trunk, a recess automatically remains free. This can be optimally exploited if you fill it with soil and thus create a pretty underplanting for the house tree.

“Tip: If your garden tree seems unsuitable for a tree bank due to the inclined trunk, simply construct an L-shaped model.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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