ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Garden ornaments: Survival strategies for you and them

Updated on November 8, 2009

Note this barrow keeps the plants clear of direct contact with the metal surface, and the plants are in terrra cotta pots

Some gardens are so heavily covered in ornaments you can wonder whether the garden is an excuse for the ornaments, or vice versa. In practice, they tend to be an unscheduled supply of bric a brac for the garden.

Like most ornaments, opinions of ornaments will range from a bravely muted horror to real enthusiasm from viewers. Some people rationalize to extremes in producing their reactions to the latest ornament:

For example:

  • Garden gnomes aren’t responsible for their appearance. It’s probably genetic.
  • The new ceramic moose is definitely a profound statement of some kind.
  • Artistic people are strange, so The Scream as a garden statue shouldn’t have any particular meaning attributed to it.
  • Thousands of wind chimes are therapeutic, particularly if none are in the same key.
  • All fountains should cause subsidence, it’s part of the natural scheme of things.
  • Neighbors receiving counseling from clinical interior decorators are a normal part of the fabric of suburban life. 

Aesthetics are personal, so if the ornaments depict the person, at least you know they’re in character.

Now the more practical side of garden ornaments. There are a few “Don’ts”, several “Shoudn’ts”, and quite a few “Preferably forget the whole ideas.”

Because garden ornaments tend to be made out of commercial materials, you’ve got some possible issues by definition:

Metal ornaments

Metal ornaments in full sun can actually cause burns. Near plants, they can cause dehydration and destroy microclimates. In cold climates they work in reverse, and can create serious problems for plants by modifying temperatures around the plants.

Rust in steel is a problem, sometimes affecting soil acidity with the falling oxides. In brass and silver the different forms of oxidization can be problem, and silver oxide is extremely toxic.

Bronze is safer, but can be hard work if you want it in mint condition.


Some, but not all, ceramics are temperature hogs, like metal. Ornamental ceramics may not be good temperature resistant materials. Their paint may flake, unless under a strong glaze. (Glaze is actually a good indicator of quality in most cases.)

As planters, some ceramics leave a lot to be desired. Ornamental they may be, functional, they’re not. Some are quite unsuitable to real garden environments, and react badly to heavy weights. These things are usually not industrially designed, and can be more trouble than they’re worth. (If you want to cheat, you can make an impression of one of these flimsy objects, and make a proper, long lasting ceramic yourself.)

Terra cotta is definitely the preferred option, for ornaments. One of the reasons for its universal use is its proven ability to survive. You can paint terra cotta and stick ornaments on it to your heart’s content, and do no damage to anything but your personal reputation.

Even properly fired, painted and glazed modeling clay will last longer, and look better for longer, than most fragile ceramics. Save money, look for quality.


There are two types of plastics, in terms of garden uses, and particularly as ornaments: Good heavy duty polymers and useless rubbish. Strong polymers can expand and contract with temperature variations. The weak, brittle variety, like those absurd commercial pots, are guaranteed to fall to bits.

Exposed to any sort of reactive chemical, plastics are a very mixed blessing, and it’s best to make sure they’re never in contact with things like phosphates, sulfur compounds, or other acidic fertilizers.

The fact is that even good plastics have a shelf life in the open air, and usually don’t last too well. They may not be biodegradable, but they’re definitely environmentally-deteriorate-able.

Big ornaments

The main risk from big ornaments is to you:

Weight and lifting are real problems. Anything over about 5kg can cause problems. Do not attempt to lift or move anything heavy, particularly if it’s been set in place for a while, if you can avoid it, and use a hand truck or other support when doing so.

Hanging ornaments can be positively dangerous. A big hanging ceramic can do a lot of damage if it hits anyone. Make sure the ornament is properly secured, preferably by two strong chains, in case one comes loose.

Do not staple anything overhead. Make sure it’s properly secured to the surface by screws.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Nice hub! I have seen too many of the overly cluttered garden spaces you talked about, but some of the ornaments do add a little personality. Thanks for this.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)