As Projects Go

Back in April, I committed to two garden projects this season. I was enthusiastic at the time, as one often is when projects are simply ideas in your head.

Of course, the first project seemed like more fun: replace the long-in-the-tooth garden swing with a new glider. Done!

The second project involved repairing or replacing the top of my garden bench.

I started in the lumber aisle of our local big-box store, pretending that I wasn’t entirely out of my league. I looked at planks of wood and pre-cut surfaces but nothing seemed quite right. Further, the cost and availability of lumbar has been challenging due to COVID-related supply chain issues. Ok, so that’s another excuse for feeling overwhelmed by it all. I mean how expensive can it be to buy a small section of wood?

The existing garden bench boards are warped, but removing them further jeopardizes the sturdiness of the entire unit. I would need to replace the boards or attach something on top of them, followed by more sanding and paint. Neither of those projects worked out well the last time, so my reluctance is rooted in that experience.

In the end, I went in a completely different direction, and I’m pleased with the results. I ordered a plexiglass top from a local place called Tap Plastic. The acrylic is available in a variety of thicknesses, depending on need. I ordered a product called “green glass,” which mimics the real deal for a fraction of the cost. They created this custom-made acrylic top for less than a hundred dollars.

I made a pattern to include the surface and the small recessed area at the back. The new plexiglass top slides into the notched area, helping keep it in place.

You can see the rounded corners and the notched extension in the above photo.

I can change the look by swapping out table runners or placemats. The surface wipes clean with a damp cloth which is another plus over the wood surface. I hope it lasts for years.

This striped cloth draped on the bench is a gift from my friend Rosie. She brought it home with her from a trip to Africa a few years ago. I searched for the proper term but gave up. I found many sources and suggestions, including Mud cloth, Kente cloth, Kantha cloth, and simply “head tie.” I don’t want to attribute it to something it’s not. The fabric is soft and vibrant with a lovely drape.

The gorgeous birdhouse is hand-crafted by my friend, Laura. She started her own business a few years ago, making one-of-a-kind ceramic birdhouses in Paradise, California. I don’t have the heart to hang it on a branch for fear of breaking it in a strong wind, so I have it on the bench instead. Both gifts are lovely reminders of dear friends.

The rest of the garden is doing okay, though some plants are showing stress from reduced watering and heat. Only one of the three tomato plants produced decent fruit. The other two plants are stunted, even though we planted them in rich soil. So it goes with gardening.

That said, I count myself lucky to have many established native plants. They thrive in this climate and won’t bothered by a lack of water.

Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of rain.

28 thoughts on “As Projects Go

  1. Well that turned out amazing! I would never have come up with such a brilliant idea. Lets hope the squirrels don’t get a taste for African fabric now. It turned out so beautiful. Some projects just have to wait until inspiration comes calling. It’s not procrastination at all. Stunning.


  2. I know what you mean about the big DIY stores , you really have to look as if you know a bit at least otherwise they patronise you something rotten. I have a friend who recently split up with her husband and has become a demolition, woodwork and tiling expert. She is amazing and, if ever I need to go and buy DIY stuff (and I still lived in France) I would take her with me. The plexiglass idea of yours was a good one and should mean your bench will last a lot longer.


    • Yes! That’s so true. I’m sorry about your friend’s divorce, but lucky for you at the time that she could tag along and keep the mansplaning to a minimum. It’s nice to have found a solution that is practical, simple, easy to clean and should extend the life of the bench.


  3. The acrylic glass is such a good idea! Love that table runner too. My garden is beginning to look scruffy with that ‘end of season’ look, but at least we have rain and it is greener than usual for August. Tomatoes are slow to ripen… sucha contrast to last summer where I couldn’t process them quickly enough! LOL!


  4. Another pretty and clever project checked off your list ! Check and Mate! I would never have thought about that. My only experience with glass (or faux glass) is breaking it. Just before you arrived in Edmonton last, I smashed the glass in the little porch table. Replacing it was almost as much as the little table, but it matches the chairs so, c’est la vie.
    It’s awesome you can change the look as much as you want too. Summers been a bust here. Smoke and dry. I join you in wishing for rain! xo K


    • I’m really sorry to hear that your summer has been a bust: heat and smoke are not what we bargain for yet here we are. I’m sorry you broke your table-top glass, but I’m glad you could get it replaced. It’s nice to get things back in working order. I miss you! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think your solution is so clever! As you say, you will have the bench for a long time to come. I also love the fern stencil on the front. It is a lovely detail that makes the whole thing.


  6. Alsy,

    My Dad went to Tap plastics many years ago and had a plexiglas cover made for the kitchen table. The table and cover are items we inherited when he passed away and seeing yours and reading your tale made me think of him and smile. I love that cover and it has protected the table and made it so easy to clean up after messy meals and art projects. I too wish for rain every day


    • Hi Betsy, What a fun coincidence, to hear of your dad’s similar use. Wipeable surfaces are king in my book. It’s nice to hear that you still have that table. I hope your girls are soon settling back into the school year, but my goodness what difficult times.


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