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A Rhododendron Bench Makeover

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One advantage of these rhododendron benches is that you can easily change them if you don't like how they look. I designed this one as a viewing seat for the bamboo forest, with a future canopy of clematis. It was supposed to be asymetrical, but not unbalanced. After studying it for two years, I decided to add a few more branches on the neglected side. With a new pond and bridge,and a new three-legged rhododendron bench nearby, I also wanted the bare bark look and reluctantly began the tedious chore of removing it.

It is much easier to remove the bark with the branches detached, especially with a complex network like this one. But it is nearly impossible to remember how to put the assembly back together, even numbering the pieces. I remove them one at a time, debark them, and reattach them. Screws in predrilled holes make this process much easier.

After trying to take the bark off with a pressure washer, electric sander, drill driven wire brushes, and other power tools, I finally settled on a wood rasp. It takes forever. Maybe a sand blaster would work.

The pressure washer does work well to return the cedar seat and back to its fresh-cut color. I like the weathered gray for bark-on benches, but not for stained furniture. The stain, by the way, is a UV protection cedar color product.

Jordan delivers the restyled bench to is location.

The location of the original bench was in the lower left corner of this picture. After the addition of the pond and restyling the bench, I moved it back so the view stretched across the water and into the bamboo.