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Thoughts from the Cottage…

Principles for Place Garden Art

April 2013

Why do some gardens "work" while others are simply boring?  The answer is planning and following basic design principles.  It is important to consider where and how your decorations will fit into the design and just as important to select ornaments that you really love and place them where they will have the greatest impact.


Here are my top five design principles for placing garden decor:

1. Scale:  To blend attractively, ornaments must be used in scale with the surrounding area.  Generally, they should be in proportion to the house, plantings and nearby structures.  But some rules are made to be broken, with a little boldness and a good sense of design a large arbor can be placed in a small space and make it look wonderful.

2. Unity:  Whatever ornaments you use, they will look great if they are part of an unified garden design.  A design where the plants, structures and garden decor all share one style and work together to convey the mood of the garden.  Nothing stands out too much, all parts work together to establish a sense of unity.  Repetition of elements such as material, shapes and color unify the look and keep from being hodgepodge.  In some gardens, symmetry is used - matching elements balanced on either side of a central axis.

3. Color:  This gives the garden personality!  Garden decor that matches your outdoor palette colors (or just the right amount of contrast) can make your garden shine.  Warm colors tend to be stimulating and noticed from afar, while cool colors are more calming and understated.


4. Texture:  Almost as important as color are the surface textures and finishes of ornaments, garden furniture and structures like walls and paving's.  Metal furniture or highly glazed containers make a bright statement in the garden.  By contrast earthy finishes and surfaces such as wood and stone blend in as attractive parts of the whole in a naturalistic scheme.

5. Focal Point:  A well chosen focal point provides an almost immediate means of organizing and centering the garden design.  The ornament should be worthy of notice.  Sometimes an object becomes a focal point by virtue of its anchoring the center of a planting or the size.

Ornaments can help shape your garden space and influence the way you perceive and experience the garden.  Garden art can call attention to a cozy nook or anchor the plan by serving as the focal point.  Decorative elements you choose create your gardens character through their design, color and texture as well a through the reactions they evoke.