Architectural Elements in the Garden

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Want to set the mood in your yard? Try adding architectural elements in the garden. Whether your idea of a great garden area is traditional, folksy, modern, edgy or whimsical surprise, elements of reused, reclaimed, recycled and salvaged pieces among your plantings and surroundings can complete the look and feel of an area, transforming the ordinary space into an extraordinary place. Basements, garages, attics, sheds, salvage yards and outbuildings may contain just the pieces you need to accent your garden with architectural elements.

Garden Statue

Garden Statue

When it comes to using architectural elements, the number one guideline for successful garden design and inspiration is to think outside of the box. The number two rule is to know your surroundings and take advantage of hidden treasures that may be available.

An important concept to keep in mind is that anything with an opening may be used as a garden planter. Examples include: galvanized buckets, barrels, wooden bins, bird baths and antique plumbing pieces such as wash bins and small bowl sinks.

Antique farm equipment and parts make a bold statement on their own and add interest and a sense of history to garden settings. Think wagon wheels, hay rakes, mill stones, iron gates and grates, old fashioned carts, livestock feed troughs, horse hitch posts and pieces of granite.

It’s essential keep scale, style and setting in mind when accenting garden areas with architectural elements. For example, a decaying piece of farm equipment surrounded by wildflowers may fit beautifully in the back garden area of a farmhouse with a vast field; however, that same piece of equipment would look quite out of place in the front yard of a ranch home in a residential neighborhood, no matter how many wildflowers may grow around it. Be sure to check with local code enforcement offices as well as checking with any neighborhood association guidelines before transporting large architectural pieces to your property.

Other found items that are appealing staged throughout gardens include interesting rocks, driftwood, larger vintage toys such as scooters and bicycles (the older and rustier the better) antique garden tools such as wooden push lawn mowers, shovels and hoes, and outdated industrial pieces such as old gas pumps and lantern poles.

Gnomes add a whimsical touch to the garden.

Gnomes add a whimsical touch to the garden.

Imagine walking through a garden and coming across a home mailbox from yesteryear (complete with rust spots and a faded paint patina) mounted on a weathered post with morning glory vines climbing wildly around it. Picture the charm of a dilapidated 1940’s bicycle resting alongside a garden path, with flowers spilling out from a moss lined basket on the handle bars. It’s these elements of charm, whimsy and surprise nestled among the fruits, flowers and plantings and the paths, nooks and crannies of the garden that evoke a sense of wonder and nostalgia all the while making gardening fun, fulfilling and joyful for not only the gardener, but for the gardener’s guests as well.

  • Shelley

    How about as a plant stand? A hanging style plant with cascading leaves on the top would look great. You could also surround the chiminea with assorted plants in varios sizes and colors-using the top and any openings as unique shelf areas. Let me know how it works out!

  • Shelley – I am such a huge fan of having “things” all around my garden. Sometimes I have to move them around quite a bit before I find the perfect spot. I recently purchased a cracked chiminea for about $2 and I can’t seem to find a good place for it. Since the crack and accompanying hole is sort of to the back so it doesn’t have to be seen, but I can’t seem to think of how to use it. Any ideas?


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