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The Garden Furniture is Alive! A DIY Guide

Posted by Bridgman on

As designers of luxury garden furniture, we're always looking for ways to create unique furnishings for the garden. We've turned commodes into planters, made vertical gardens and tables from pallets, and created garden wall art from old picture frames and mirrors.

We're having such a good time with our DIY projects we want to share them with you, our readers. We'll tell you exactly what we did, step-by-step. Feel free to make changes to fit your style and ideas.

I. Tools and Materials

  • Old garden chair frame
  • 20 litres of topsoil
  • A pair of wellingtons
  • Sphagnum moss, enough for 3 14" baskets
  • 56 litres of multi-purpose compost
  • 20-24 bamboo stakes
  • 24-30 3" pots of primulas
  • ½ metre plastic guttering, to be cut to size
  • 4 small herb plants, such as chamomile and/or sage
  • 3 jubilee clips
  • 3 mason jars
  • Square of turf
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • PVA glue
  • Nail gun
  • Chicken wire
  • Pliers
  • 3-4 metres string
  • Assorted washers, screws, screw eyes, metal hooks
  • Length of chain
  • 200cm x 200cm board, to be cut to size

II. Preparation

  • Strip the rattan off an old rattan garden chair, leaving just the metal frame
  • If you would like, you can put a finish on the metal to make it look like wood--as you see in the photo--or paint it a colour.

III. Production and Planting

  Step 1. Build a wooden box approximately 10cm deep for the topsoil and turf. Cut a bottom and sides to fit inside the seat frame of the chair. The size of the boards depends on the dimensions of the chair frame. Screw the boards together to make a rectangular frame.   Use PVA glue and a nail gun to secure the bottom of the box to the frame.   Drill drainage holes in the bottom of the box.   Step 2. Attach your wooden box to the frame by first drilling pilot holes and them screwing the box to the inside of the seat frame.   Step 3. Build similar boxes for the sides of the chair, one for each size. Again, the dimensions depend on the dimensions of the chair.   Step 4. Put hooks on the side boxes and hang them from the first box. Making the side boxes removable will allow you to put them on a flat surface to water them.   Step 5. Fill the side boxes and plant the flowers.
  • Fill the two size boxes with multi-purpose compost.
  • Add the flowers and cover the compost with a generous layer of moss, making sure to pack the box fairly well.
  • Cut holes in the chicken wire and pull the flowers through the holes.
  • Use a nail gun to fasten thin pieces of wood to the sides of the frame to hold the chicken wire in place. Use pliers to cut off the excess wire and file it down so there are no sharp edges.
Step 6. Fill the main box with topsoil and lay the turf.
  • Pack the soil well so people don't sink too low when they sit down.
  • Cut the turf to size.
  • Lay the turf on the soil.
  Step 7. Attach mason jars to the chair back.
  • Secure a piece of wood to the back of the chair at the top.
  • Use jubilee clips to attach the jars to the wood. Drill two holes in the clips.
    • Screw the clips tightly onto the wood.
    • Fasten the clips around the mason jars.
  Step 8. Nail down bamboo sticks onto the front of the chair to make a strong backrest. Step 9. Add "kokedama" string gardens.
  • Create balls of multi-purpose compost, place a small plant such as chamomile or sage into each ball, and cover the plant and compost with a generous layer of moss.
  • Tie string around the moss to hold it all together.
  • Hang the string balls from the arms of the chair.
  Step 10. Hang a gutter at the front of the chair.
  • Measure out the space and cut the gutter to size, then drill four holes at the four top corners of the gutter.
  • Cut four chains to the same size.
  • Link two chains together, creating two sets of linked chains.
  • Put the chains through the holes in the gutter. Use bolts to hold the gutter in place.
  • Attach two screw eyes to allow the gutter to hang.
  Step 11. Attach bamboo sticks on the back of the chair, same as on the front.   Step 12. Put wellingtons at the feet of the chair.
  • Cut a hole in each boot for the flowers.
  • Cut straight through the back of the wellingtons; then screw the wellingtons onto the frame using washers for better grip.
  • Fill the boots with soil and plant the flowers.

The Finished Product

Congratulations! You did it. You turned an old chair into a distinctive piece of colourful garden furniture. Take a look at the finished product from all different angles. Unique and amazing—isn't it!  


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