Add Finishing Touches with Garden Ornaments

Ornaments are a great way to add the finishing touches to your garden. Use them to add elements of color, shape, and texture that reflect your personal style. Whether whimsical or dramatic, garden ornaments don't need to be big in size to make a big impact. Even a small, thoughtfully placed ornament can be just the finishing touch needed to totally transform the look and feel of your garden space.

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Pretty and Practical

Many garden ornaments are both pretty to look and practical to use. When selecting ornaments for your garden, think about whether or not they can provide dual purposes. Used simply as accents, ornaments can be used to draw attention to a special plant, guide the eye toward a specific view, or to alert foot traffic to a set of steps. On the more practical side, ornaments like birdhouses, bird feeders, birdbaths, and fountains also serve to attract and protect wildlife. Large, structural ornaments such as arbors, gazebos, and pergolas provide shade, support climbing and hanging plants, and help define garden spaces. Benches and chairs offer visitors a place to rest and reflect, while sundials and weather vanes provide a sense of nostalgia and useable information about the time and weather.

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Ideas for Integrating Ornaments into Your Landscape

  • Consider your style. Ornaments will look best if they have a pleasing color, good proportion, and match the overall style of your garden. For example, classical statuary looks best in a formal garden, while more casual objects, like a whimsical metal daisy, look more at home in a cottage garden.

  • Provide some perspective. Try placing large ornaments where they can be appreciated at a distance. To really make them pop, use some evergreens (bamboo, dwarf conifers, or ferns) as a backdrop. Place small, detailed ornaments where they can be viewed up close. Matching objects, used repetitively, will create a sense of balance and symmetry.

  • Create special effects. Use the familiar in unfamiliar ways to achieve special effects. For example, a gazing ball nestled beneath plants at ground level reflects sunshine as well as the color of nearby flowers. A swan statue positioned above blue flowers appears to glide across a "lake".
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  • Display your collections. There's no better way to bring some of your own personality into your garden than by displaying the things that you love the most. I know of some bowlers down the street who have created an interesting display with all of their old bowling balls. If you're a fan of frogs, lady bugs, owls, or other animals, arrange them throughout the landscape, or group several together and create a lovely vignette.

  • Brighten dark spaces. Objects that reflect light are always welcome additions in the shade garden. Gazing balls are an easy way to lighten up shady spots while adding color. Birdbaths filled with water give a shimmer appreciated by wildlife.

  • Add some humor. Bring a sense of humor to your garden by adding in the element of surprise. One way to do this is placing humorous statuary where no one would expect to see it-a smiling pink pig among your pansies or a mischievous lawn gnome being hauled away by squirrels.
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Watch the Weather

Just about anything that can endure weather has the potential to be a garden ornament. In regions with cold weather, however, outdoor ornaments have to stand up to alternating freezing and thawing over several months. Materials made from wood, concrete, and metal can remain outdoors for the winter. Items made from a porous material like ceramic or terra cotta should be brought inside to prevent them from freezing and cracking.

Garden Ornament Ideas

  • abstract sculptures
  • baskets
  • bells
  • birdbaths
  • birdcages
  • birdhouses
  • decorative pots and urns
  • found objects
  • fountains
  • iron (bed frames, toys, fences)
  • mirrored globes
  • old tools
  • rain chains
  • statuary
  • stepping stones
  • sundials
  • topiary
  • tree faces
  • wagons
  • wall plaques
  • whirligigs
  • wind chimes
  • wind socks
  • wreaths

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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