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Garden Accents: How to Add Charm Without Adding More Work

Accessorizing with non-living things like birdbaths, sundials, and garden stakes is an inexpensive way to add charm to your garden without creating any more work. Here are seven classic garden accents and some tips for incorporating them into your landscape.


7 Classic Garden Accents

  • Birdbaths: Not only do birdbaths attract birds, they are also a great way to cover up bare spots where nothing seems to grow. You'll need to keep them clean and filled with fresh water if you hope to attract birds, but the small amount of work this requires is well worth the effort. To create a finished look, place a birdbath on top of a border made from decorative crushed rock or pavers, and then place pots of geraniums or marigolds around the base to add some color.

  • Gazing balls: Use their reflective properties to "fill in" bare spots with the mirror image of surrounding plants, and bring light and color to shady parts of the garden. If you have small children or pets and are worried about the potential of broken glass, try a ball made from stainless steel or copper instead.

  • Tree benches: A comfortable circular bench built around a large tree can make a big statement. It will give you a place to sit and relax, and it will also take the pressure off of trying grow grass (and mow grass) beneath a large tree.

  • Arches and arbors: An arch or an arbor will give you height and provide a focal point in the yard without the pruning and upkeep required of a small tree (you can always go crazy and plant climbing vines next to it later on). Free do-it-yourself plans are widely available on the Internet, and most garden centers and home stores carry kits in a variety of styles that are inexpensive and easy to assemble.

  • Dry Streambeds: A dry streambed is easy to make and doesn't require any of the maintenance of a full-blown water feature. Dig a shallow trench shaped like a gently winding stream. Lay down a plastic liner and cover it with gravel. Add large rocks and medium-sized stones to the edges. Sit back and relax. You've just eliminated another area to mow.

  • Tree stumps: If you have a protruding tree stump, it doesn't have to be an eyesore. With a little creativity, you can use it to your advantage. Add a mound of topsoil around the base of the stump and plant a few low-growing evergreens. Use the top of a stump as a pedestal to showcase a pot filled with flowers, a sundial, a small piece of statuary, or even a bird feeder.

  • Garden stakes: Decorative garden stakes are both pretty and practical. From the sassy to the demure, use them to guide garden hoses safely around plants, remember what is planted where, support a floppy stem, or to insert a bit of color and whimsy into a garden bed.

Remember to Use Restraint

Adding charm with garden accents calls for a certain degree of tasteful restraint. Think of it like getting dressed, only your garden is the clothing and the garden accents are the jewelry. You don't want to ruin the overall look by "over accessorizing". Anything overdone in terms of garish colors or excessive numbers can end up looking tacky and detract from, rather than add to, your yard's character.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


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November 8, 20110 found this helpful

I have filled in bare spots in the strip of garden next to my apartment by using rounded stones I picked up at the sea shore & grouping them & using some garden statues & plaques from the dollar store. There are all somewhat damaged, so they won't get stolen but they look nice!

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November 8, 20110 found this helpful

Hi, I really like the idea of a sundial on a tree stump. We have a big tree stump and its in a small rose garden (with another tree). Our tree stump isnt entirely flat on the top but maybe it needs to be!! Thank you for writing this.

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November 8, 20110 found this helpful

I am saving these in my notes! I like the birdbath and flowers underneath and the dry streambed. They are great!



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