A few months back I wrote a post 'Stone Chairs. Some ancient some not so ancient…Yet….' in which I mentioned that one of my favorite things to build are stone seats. Well here is a stone seating area I have just completed and the process I used to create it.
So recently a lady in down in Co. Kildare asked me if I could transform this old area of her garden into one of my stone seating areas, so of course I was only too happy to oblige.
My delivery of stone.
So when the old material has been removed, the risers are built up.
For the top of the seats I often use big chunky slabs of stone like this (if I can get them). Depending on their weight, sometimes I need to get a mini digger to move them into place. However as there was a little movement in these ones, I decided to move them into place the old fashioned way, by using round timber stakes and leverage. It is hard going, but there is something very satisfying about doing it all by hand.
So when the seat tops are finished it is time to make the backs of the seats. This is the part that truly makes each seat unique.
When possible, I will actually go to the stone quarry and walk around and pick out the stone myself for a project. Unfortunately it has become increasingly difficult to find quarries that will let you loose in the quarry to go around picking out stone, as they are worried about getting sued.
So in this case I was unable to pick the stone myself, so I had to give a very detailed shopping list of exactly what I needed. This brought its own challenges, as you have to work with what you are given.
I try not to alter the stone too much, as I like to keep the natural edges of the stone. This way you keep all the stone's imperfections, keeping the whole thing looking more organic.
Laying the stone out on the ground I work out the layout for the backs of the seats.
It is good to do this beforehand as once you get the stone in place, you really don't want to be moving it again.
Over the years you do learn some clever ways of moving large pieces of stone around without breaking your back. With pieces like this I walk them into place by rotating them on one corner, then doing the same with the other, slowly edging forward.
When all the main backing stones are in place, the smaller stones can be built up in between as can the stone around the back of the larger slabs.
And that's it, piece of cake really!
Well maybe not, it is hard work but it is also very rewarding work. Creating something unique and artistic like this can totally transform a garden and can be enjoyed for centuries to come!