A two-in-one deal, Planter Benches are ideally suited to cramped balconies and small patios.
Combine planters and a bench and, as a result, you meld the ornaments of nature and the practicality of man. That’s just what a planter bench does, allowing you and a friend to have a cup of coffee while pleasantly flanked by begonias and petunias. These simple but clever pieces of garden furniture have a seat made of timbers set between two planter boxes. They are both practical and pretty in their own right but are especially welcome when one has a very small garden, patio, or balcony.
Underneath we review five planter benches whose designs and ‘looks’ are, happily, quite different from each other allowing you ample options to select the right design for your garden, patio, or other location. These ‘looks’ range from country-rustic to urban contemporary. Also, though all five planter benches are made of wood, these too offer a diverse set of choices, ranging from treated decking board through FSC pinewood to exotic hardwood.
Bar one, all planter benches reviewed underneath have two cuboid planters with a seat in-between, attached to or hooked over a rim of each planter.
Three of the planter benches have planter boxes with wooden bases. These need to be lined to forestall wood rot; also remember to make small holes in the lining material so that water can drain out. Though you can use a thick plastic for a liner, it would be better to get porous landscape fabric suitable for planters or use jute or coconut fibre matting.
Criteria and Considerations
When shopping for a planter bench you will likely take a look at the price tag. Besides cost, here are the most important factors to consider:
- Quality of Material, i.e. the kind of wood, its strength and texture.
- Design. Though these garden items are not exactly ornate, some are plainer than others.
- Aesthetics. The decorative value and visual appeal of the furniture itself.
- Workmanship. How well crafted and well made the planter bench is.
- Finishing. Is it well sanded and properly painted, or does it have rough spots.
- Build Quality. The solidity, sturdiness, and overall fineness of the product.
- Completeness. One or two will have a baseboard and come with liners while another will have neither!
- Quality Control. Some products are remarkably consistent from piece to piece while a few vary quite a lot so that defective or flawed pieces enter the market.
- Value for money, which needs no explanation.
The planter benches reviewed underneath have quite pronounced strengths and weaknesses. One product may be truly beautiful and made of very fine wood but dodgy quality control means that a few too many flawed or poorly-finished pieces get into the market. Some other product may be so well finished and finely painted as to be picture perfect but be deficient in solidity and sturdiness while another, conversely, may be sturdy enough to seat an elephant but be rough-hewn in appearance and aesthetically unappealing.Table could not be displayed.
We slice and dice these issues to allow you to home in on the right planter bench for you.
Though flawed or ill-finished pieces are a cause of concern, at its best Furinno’s set is that Keatsian ‘thing of beauty’ that is ‘a joy for ever.’
Cost: No products found.
Furinno’s popular ‘Tioman’ planter bench is made of Malaysian red Meranti, a tropical hardwood.
The planter boxes are made of narrow, vertically-arranged, timbers, bounded with wider planks across the top and bottom. Bigger and thicker vertical planks on each corner reinforce the planter and protrude a few centimetres at the bottom forming four feet.
The seat is made of five closely set timbers with a little buttress front and rear on the underside. The ends also have similar buttresses, each of which also makes a tongue that hooks securely over the rim of each planter.
Furinno’s planter bench measures 183 centimetres wide by 29 centimetres deep. It is 45 centimetres high.
These planter benches are treated with teak oil and, actually, some units have been treated a little too generously with it, causing the bench and planters to exude oil on sunny days.
Be aware that although the wood is of a lovely colour the shade is far different from that shown in the marketing photographs. It is not a deep brown or a teak brown but is a light brown with a distinct orange-red hue – exactly as Malaysian Red Meranti is supposed to be!
The ‘planters’ lack a baseboard; the bottom is open. As such, the ‘planters’ are really only enclosures into which you can put planters of the right size. Else you have a small DIY job on hand fitting up baseboards.
The ‘Tioman’ planter benches are exceptionally well designed and they lead the pack in aesthetic appeal by some distance. In the main they are also well made but are of variable quality in more ways than one. Many benches are made of high-quality Meranti and are very well made and finished but a few seem to be made of rejected lumber or lumber ‘seconds.’ A small proportion of pieces are not well finished, showing incomplete or lazy sanding, gouges, or splitting.
No, quality control is not Furinno’s strength, and there’s more to it: most units are admirably sturdy and show excellent build quality but a few are rather less than sturdy. As a result, sitting on this bench is a game of, shall we call it, ‘Furinno Roulette.’ Five times out of six you’ll enjoy a pleasant chat with a friend but if you’ve got the ‘loaded chamber’ you may find yourself suddenly seated on the ground with a piece of shattered wood beside you.
Assembly is a piece of cake but adding to the variability (and the buyer’s suspense), while some super-complete packages also include an Allen key, others lack even the fasteners!
Though Furinno’s ‘Tioman’ planter bench is very variable in quality, at its best it ranks at the top in quality, beauty, solidity, and craftsmanship, which is enough for it to pip the Best Pick position.
If our Best Pick is unavailable, you could look into Furinno’s Meranti planter bench in rather a different style with timbers spaced apart.
- Exceptionally attractive planter bench, both in its design and the type of wood.
- Very well made and well finished.
- Solid and sturdy planter bench is of excellent build quality.
- Poor quality control means that some poorly-made or flawed pieces slip through the net.
- Planter boxes do not have baseboards.
- Completeness of the set is variable – you may or may not get an Allen key and screws.
It may be a bit too low, it may be very simple, but vidaXL’s set’s merits are many: consistently top-class quality and workmanship for a steal.
Cost: No products found.
Made of FSC-certified impregnated green Pinewood, vidaXL’s planter bench actually has a distinctly green tint which makes it appear as if freshly made from new greenwood. It measures 196 centimetres wide by 40 deep. It is only 36 centimetres high – make that 36 centimetres low. This is a squat, low-slung bench that should have been about 5 centimetres higher and 10 centimetres less wide.
Each planter box is made of six timbers arranged horizontally in a slightly staggered or offset fashion, and interior uprights near each corner reinforce the already sturdy boxes. They are raised off the ground by two lengthwise timbers underneath each box. The planters have baseboards.
The seat comprises of four long timbers and it too is reinforced with three crosswise supporting timbers underneath it. The seat’s ends are to be attached to the cross-posts along one rim of the planters.
The pinewood has wonderfully varied grain patterns – straight, tight, wide, interlocking, spiral – and part of the pleasure in buying this set is in awaiting the random ‘Nature’s Artwork’ that will adorn your planter bench.
The wood, its colour, the design, everything about this planter bench would be right at home at a countryside farmhouse. While the decorative value is nothing to write home about, those who like unfussy, rustic, natural-finish garden furniture will be delighted with vidaXL’s set.
These planter benches manifest excellent and thorough workmanship, belying this product’s positioning as a budget item. They are also very solid and sturdy. Thus, overall build quality is quite excellent. The product pool is comparatively very free of flawed pieces.
Though it is easy to assemble, holes are not pre-drilled so you’ll have to roll up your sleeves – at least part-way.
vidaXL’s Pinewood planter bench is so inexpensive as to be astounding. This value-for-money set has no competition as a Value Pick.
- The high-quality Pinewood has varied and wonderful grain patterns.
- Consistently top-class build quality and workmanship.
- The price of this value-for-money set is nothing short of amazing.
- Rustic simplicity means that aesthetics are not a strength.
- Height is a bit too low, especially in view of the length of the set.
- Holes for the screws are not pre-drilled.
A bit costly for an unstained kit, Primrose’s set is unique as it’s meant to encircle a tree; build quality, finishing, and durability are virtues.
Cost: No products found.
Very different from the usual planter bench, Primrose’s hexagonally-formed structure is meant to encircle a tree, though it does not necessarily have to surround a tree: it can be used as a ring of benches enclosing various plants. If the tree is a slim one, you could conceivably grow flowering plants around the tree and have this planter encircling both tree and plants. As a design concept, this ‘planter bench’ sans planter boxes is in its own category!
Each ‘wall’ of the hexagonal structure is made of four planks that interlock with the ones on either side. Three of the ‘walls’ have a three-timber seat astride them, and which projects outwards. All timbers have carefully-rounded edges demonstrating attention to comfort and fine finishing.
This planter bench is 122 centimetres in diameter, and it is 41 centimetres high. It weighs 4.54 kilogrammes. The circumference of the tree it encloses can be up to two meters. The company also makes this planter bench in two larger sizes.
Primrose’s unusual set is made of mature Swedish Pinewood from renewable forests. The wood has been pressure treated to protect against wood rot for ten years. It is of a very pale brown hue; too pale indeed, it cries out for some stain.
Interestingly, the planter bench for which landscape fabric is not really necessary includes it in the package!
It is quick and easy to put together as the timbers slot into one another.
This is rather a costly planter bench but both build quality and finishing are of the top bracket. Primrose’s planter bench is a high quality product that will weather well, provided you coat it with an outdoor wood sealer or gloss paint, and should last for many years.
- Unique planter bench design concept.
- Build quality, craftsmanship, and finishing are from the top drawer.
- The high-quality pressure-treated wood when coated with sealer will be durable and long-lasting.
- Unstained and unpainted wood really needs staining or painting.
- On the costly side.
- Be aware that this planter bench has no planter boxes!
A little costly, and the odd piece may be flawed, but in the main Fallen Fruits’s set is genuinely pretty, and nails ‘A’s in solidity and finishing.
Cost: No products found.
Fallen Fruits’s planter bench is made of FSC-certified Pinewood. Planter sides are made of four horizontal timbers each. They have baseboards at the bottom. Four uprights in each outer corner extend several centimetres both above and below the planter, forming feet for the planters. The seat is made of five timbers with three support braces running across them on the underside.
It is painted a shade of grey that photographers would call ’18-Percent Grey.’ It is also available in ‘Cream’ which is more like an off-white.
Regardless of the colour, the net result is a neat, clean-cut looking affair. It has a practical but pretty design that cries ‘Urban-Contemporary!’ It is perfect for urban or suburban gardens and patios.
Fallen Fruits’s planter bench is 188 centimetres wide by 40.6 deep. It is also 40.6 centimetres high. It has a net weight of 13.3 kilogrammes.
Though this set is of very good build quality and is quite solid, considering the thickness of the timbers the seat is a little too long at 120 centimetres to be as sturdy as one would like. The finishing and the paint job are just excellent – flawless. However, the rare piece may arrive in damaged condition or with some little defect.
This set is very simple to assemble.
Fallen Fruits’s set gets full marks for completeness: in the box are four screws to attach the seat and thickish black plastic liners for the planter boxes.
As a planter bench this one is a little costly; one pays a premium for quality but it is not the best value for money.
- Clean cut design and very pleasing aesthetics – perfect for urban or suburban gardens.
- Quite solid overall, it is so well finished and well painted as to be faultless.
- As complete as it gets, coming with fixings and plastic liners.
- The very long seat in view of the thickness of the timbers does not inspire confidence.
- The occasional piece has some little defect or damage.
- Somewhat costlier than the competition.
Nothing to look at, Ruby’s ‘plain jane’ set is made from decking boards; on the flip side it scores on build quality, sturdiness, and completeness.
Cost: No products found.
Ruby’s ‘handmade’ planter bench is made from treated decking boards, which are tightly ridged and furrowed.
There are four horizontal boards on each side of the planters and reinforcing posts in each inner corner.
Each planter also has two thinner timbers at the base running front-to-back and these raise the planters off the ground. The planters’ baseboards have drainage holes – that’s two ticks in the Completeness column.
Three boards make up the seat, which does not have any reinforcing cross-timbers. However, the decking boards are so very strong that even without cross-supports one is confident in the seat’s solidity. The seat rests on, and is (to be) attached to, fairly narrow supports on one side of each planter.
Ruby’s set is 200 centimetres long and 40 deep. Its height is 50 centimetres.
Though the seat may not look particularly solid, it is quite stable and sturdy. The set as a whole is of unexpectedly good build quality.
The ridged and furrowed boards give this planter bench an industrial appearance. Nothing to look at; calling it ‘plain’ is to be generous. While this set is acceptably well finished, it is unpainted and unstained. It could certainly use some stain or a coat of paint.
This easy-to-assemble set comes with the requisite screws and nuts.
Ruby’s well-built set is neither costly nor cheap but is moderately priced; at the same time, it is made from decking boards; net result: fair price and decent value.
- Remarkably good build quality; this set is as solid and sturdy as they come.
- Baseboards, drainage holes, included attachments – completeness is a virtue.
- Being moderately priced, as a functional set it is a good value.
- Not made of this or that wood, but from treated decking boards.
- Not exactly a thing of beauty, it props up the table on aesthetics.
- Comes unstained and unpainted.
Planter Bench Ideas
It is not difficult to mix and match planter benches to create your own design. Here are four ideas. Note that in each case the planter benches have to be of the same make and model.
1. Get two planter benches. Set up one and then put one of the planter boxes of the other set such that it is in line with the bench and at the correct distance from the nearer planter box so that you can hook or attach the seat of the second set over the new planter box and a planter box of the already set up bench. Now you have an extended planter bench with a planter on each side and one in the middle. Put the remaining planter opposite the extended planter bench or tuck it away in a corner. If you put it across the extended planter bench, plant an entirely different, and bigger, species in it.
2. Get two planter benches and set one up, as above. Put a planter box from the second set perpendicular to one end of the bench, again at the right distance to drop the second seat over it and one of the already-attached boxes. Now you have an ‘L’ bench with a planter at each end and one at the vertex. You can put the fourth planter box in the crook of the ‘L’ so that two planter boxes diagonally adjoin each other, or set it off by putting it at the opposite corner so that it would be at the vertex of an imaginary square.
3. Purchase four planter benches (or, if available, two planter benches and two extra seats). Put four planter boxes around a tree, and then hook or attach four seats to them so that each planter box has a seat attached to each of its two inner sides. Thus, you have a big improvised ‘planter bench’ with a tree in the middle and four ‘regulation’ planter benches. Grow dwarf trees or flowering plants in the boxes. You will have four planter boxes left over – just right to put one in each corner of your patio or deck!
4. Buy two planter benches and a complementary picnic table. For a nature-lover’s twist on the usual bench-and-picnic-table setup, use these planter benches instead of regular benches. And as you will be using your fresh arrangement for lunching in the garden, you may as well grow sage, rosemary, thyme, coriander, cilantro, and lemons in the planters!