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5 Favourite Types of Garden Ornament

Updated on July 14, 2012

Some homes and gardens are full of every conceivable ornament, some are sparse but stunningly elegant - most fall in between the two extremes. As with all design matters, it is best to be understated and to resist the temptation to buy on impulse. Remember that the ornaments you choose for your garden will bring life and personality to the space. Your choice of garden ornaments will reinforce the style of your garden so take time to consider the type of ornaments that will compliment your design.

Stuck for ideas? Consider the 5 types of ornaments listed here to find something that suits your style.

Angel Statue from Amazon
Angel Statue from Amazon
Boy With Firefly Jar from Amazon
Boy With Firefly Jar from Amazon

1. Garden Statuary

Statues have been with us for a very long time and were just at home in classic Roman outdoor rooms as they are in a contemporary garden. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so while a perfectly modelled classical bust will appeal to some, others might prefer a contemporary piece of sculpture conceived from twisted metal.

While figures are a common choice, statues can mimic virtually anything; animals, birds, fairies, fish, gargoyles or garden gnomes. (While some people might write off the last mention and there are certainly garden "snobs" who would not use them, remember that a sense of humour can be one of the most important elements in the garden!)

Statues can be used as a greater or lesser focal point, drawing the eye to a particular point in the garden. Statues demand attention in their own right but can also be used to give emphasis to another feature: surrounding the central feature of the swimming pool, standing in groups along the face of a wall or hedge, or flanking a doorway.

Most sculptures will be carved or cast by specialists - although this is an area where even children can create an object of beauty. Common materials include stone, concrete, timber, metal and synthetics. Most garden statues will be static but some can have moving parts or be plumbed for water spouts.

Think about how your statue will fit in to the style of your garden. For example while a contemporary garden will readily accept clean, modern pieces, stone statues might sit more comfortably in a traditional style garden. Stone may look good with terracotta or an old lead sink but it would sit uncomfortably with high-tech plastic or fiberglass.

Wall Plaque from Amazon
Wall Plaque from Amazon

2. Garden Wall Plaques

Wall plaques appear in a huge range of styles, patterns, sizes and shapes, from huge carvings in relief, set into the walls of an historic garden, to a child's creation from school that will give no less pleasure to the observer.

Wall plaques are found all over the world and often have a strong ethnic flavour. Like statues, wall plaques provide a focal point but usually at a higher level. Being mounted on the face of a wall they naturally bring interest to the vertical plane and can be used singly or as a group to set up a particular pattern. They can be fitted with a spout, allowing water to fall into a pool or bowl below, adding a calming effect to your garden.

Plaques can be made from a variety of materials including stone, cast iron, ceramics, wood or glass. There is a suitable wall plaque for every conceiveable situtaion so choose carefully to ensure your plaque adds the style and personality you are wanting to achieve.

3. Garden Obelisks

A garden obelisk is one of the most dramatic focal points of all, shaped like an upside down exclamation mark and designed to draw the eye.

The classic obelisk takes the form of a tapered stone needle, standing on top of four balls which are in turn positioned on a rectangular base. The largest are built as monuments and can often be found in park lands. Whilst these might be a little too large for the average garden, there are many different variations in both size and form to suit even the smallest garden.

They can positioned singly as a focal point at the end of a vista, walk or pergola or set in pairs to flank gates or doorways. A number of garden obelisks can be used to flank a pathway in much the same way as topiary shapes, where they have the effect of accelerating the view towards the end.

Obelisks are usually constructed from natural or reconstituted stone but the shape can be elegantly constructed using a trellis structure over which climbers can be planted.

The garden obelisk is an adaptable garden ornament which fit naturally into a formal or traditional garden. However, because of their simple geometry they can be highly effective in a more contemporary garden design, especially when assocaited with stone, brick or gravel.


4. Garden Urns

Most garden urns are classical in style and design and are available in a range of patterns and sizes. Depending on the size they are generally suitable for planting but often look best when left empty. They usually stand on a base or pedestal.

Urns can be used as a focal point in a formal setting and can be positioned singly or in pairs or groups, flanking a doorway, path or pergola. They were traditionally made from lead or cast iron, and these materials are still used today, but more commonly now we find urns constructed from stone or stone-like materials. Concrete urns usually look cheap but recently there have been a number of new processes that produce a far more realistic surface texture that looks and feels like traditional stone.

Classical garden urns sit comfortably with most other traditional materials such as natural paving, brick, gravel and good quality concrete slabs. Soft landscaping in the form of plantings, lawns and background hedges will also create a suitable setting.

5. Found Garden Objects

Garden objects salvaged or found can be fun and inexpensive and are things that will reflect your personality and sense of humour. They will also, most probably, be unique.

Found objects can include an enormous range of miscellaneous items from a gnarled old log, an antique coal scuttle, a wagon wheel, rusty garden tools attached to an old gate or a group of beautiful glass balls used as floats for commercial fishing nets. Use them singly or create a group of found objects.

Found objects can be used as a major or incidental focal point and can be purely decorative or practical, such as an old bath tub turned into a herb garden or a log or boulder doubling as a seat. The point is these objects have been "found" and should be used as they are, without any major interference from you. Use your imagination and creativity to turn your found objects into appealing ornaments in your garden.

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    • Gargoyle-statues profile image
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      Gargoyle-statues 5 years ago

      Thnak you Patsybell. I love seeing how others use garden ornaments and enjoy using them in my own garden too :)

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      Very helpful and interesting. Voted up, shared, Pinned