As the garden was being developed as a peaceful place to be, the landscape director wanted to create a bench as a destination. The intention was to create a floating slab that would glow at night.

Materials on hand were two sandstone pillars and a pile of ash wood.

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I drilled holes through the pillars and built a ladder-like frame from some of the thicker ash that could be bolted to the pillars and be wired with low voltage landscape lighting. Note the half-moon spotlights to illuminate the plexi windows and the rope light around the perimeter.

I then built a box-like structure from the thinner, wider ash planks that would cover the frame. I cut out rectangular holes for the sandstone pillars and five “windows”.

The windows were created out of 1″ clear plexi blocks. The back side of the blocks was painted with a blossoming cherry branch, so the full image was divided into five sections. To get a slightly frosted look, I used a belt sander to scuff the plexi, being careful to go only in one direction to get a uniform grain.

Note the water beading and rolling off from the sealant used to weather-proof it.

The blocks set into the holes of the box, and were supported on the edges by the frame, which was half an inch closer together than the hole so there was a lip along the side.

I coated the bench with 6 coats of marine grade sealer – the same stuff they used to restore the USS Constitution Navy ship (AKA Old Ironsides). I figured if it was good enough for a sailing ship, it was good enough for a garden bench. As the picture shows, water beads up nicely and rolls right off of it.

Detail showing the close, flush transition from wood to plexi… I put a slight chamfer on the plexi to soften the sharp edges and corners.

In addition to the low voltage spotlights at each window panel (two on each) I also ran an LED rope light around the underside edge of the bench so the window panels would glow up, and the bench slab would cast a glow on the ground, creating ambiance and the floating look.

And… posing to show scale. Next, stretching the shade cloth!

A finished nighttime image of meditation bench with the shade cloth and other landscape lighting installed.