In addition to designing and building gardens that include a variety of different style patios, Details Landscape Art, a Sonoma County landscape professional, often recommends the construction of a seat wall, either at the perimeter of the patio
or as a stone planter in the interior of the patio. The seat wall offers not only the functional benefit of additional patio seating, but also visual interest. It can frame the edge of the dining area or break up a larger expanse of patio with an interior element.
The construction of the seat wall starts with a concrete or cinder block base, six inches thick and approximately sixteen inches high. Sixteen to seventeen inches is normal sitting height. If this is to a taller retaining, say two to three feet high to hold back a slope, the construction is the same – it just will not be used for sitting.The length depends on the size of the patio, and the needs of the homeowner, usually based on the number of people entertained. The base wall is then faced with either cultured stone or flagstone. The pieces are cut and chipped to fit together like a puzzle, and then mortared to the base wall using Mason’s Mix. We add a Bonding Adhesive and /or a Fortifier to assist in the adhesion process, so the stone sticks, and the wall endures. There is a huge selection of cultured and natural stone available, in every stone style and color imaginable. We work with local suppliers who order the stone from, for example, Eldorado Stone, one of the manufacturers we use. We will buy ‘flats’ (pieces for the face of the wall, and ‘corners’. The various companies who make both cultured and natural stone facing materials offer catalogs showing pictures of the myriad of colors and styles they make. These catalogs are also available online.
Flagstone has less options available. There are several colors of Arizona flagstone, a few choices of Connecticut Bluestone colors (mostly in the grey tones), and a few other flagstones, such as Multi-blend and Wyoming chocolate. Details Landscape Art, your local landscape professional, will assist the client in coordinating the stone with other hardscape elements in the landscape. The front of the wall is always faced, and back of the wall may or may not be faced depending on how visible it is in the garden.
The wall is then capped with 1 ½ inch thick flagstone, in a color that blends with the wall stone selected. The sharp edges of the flagstone cap are rounded with a grinder to provide a comfortable seating surface. A sixteen inch high base wall, plus a one to one and one half inch thick cap equals a 17 and one half to 18 inch high seat wall – perfect sitting height !
As a landscape professional, we like to see plants behind the wall and sometimes trail over the wall which can be a pretty look.The finished wall is a beautiful feature that enhances any patio, provides additional seating, and will endure for the life of the garden.