Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Garden Accent Ideas

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Basic Design Principles can Help You Select Garden Accents and Accessories

Selecting and placing garden accents and accessories that complement your landscape is  not always an easy task.  Finding a balance between selecting items that reflect your personality but that are harmonious with your landscape design sometimes involves a little compromise.  How many times have you seen a fabulous piece for either your home or garden, but you just know it won’t look right.  Or you buy it anyway and end up “redecorating” around the piece.  Starting with an empty slate or simple design that is still maturing, that fabulous piece might just be a great starting point.

Keeping design principles in mind, perhaps you will find a little inspiration and guidance here.  Examples of good design are very helpful, but first, just a couple of examples of “don’t do this!” is in order with accents.  We tend to see accent pieces one item at a time as we acquire them, allowing the overall design to get out of control.  Take a step back and evaluate each piece and placement.

Backyard Statue by Marjorie Kennedy

A good idea gone bad.  This attempt at creating a formal garden design might have worked with enough thought and planning.  The home itself first needs to be accented formally.  The grand wide entry steps and veranda are a good start.  But there is no finishing right from the front door.  You have to do it all!  The glass block windows and wimpy iron pillars need stately replacements.  Where is the door?  It is critical that the entrance in a formal setting be prominent, at least by painting with a subtle accent color.  Large identical urns with lush plantings should be flanking the wide stairs.  The courtyard was a nice idea poorly planned.  Like an island bed, the courtyard should be half as wide as the distance from the home.  This one should be situated around 20 feet from the home.  Following traditional design form, the courtyard is symmetrical with pillars at each corner, a perfectly centered pedestal, and identical lampposts at the outside corners.  A grand urn on the center pedestal is fine.  Without mentioning the plastic pot, let’s just say that the contents are completely out of scale with a pedestal and large urn.  On each of the corner pillars, there appears to be identical small urns that coordinate with the center urn.  Again, the contents are out of balance with the size of the urn.  Statues are an excellent choice for formal designs.  They should never be lined up in a row.  A statue should be strategically placed to create a focal point such as the center pedestal.  There are several other good ways to use statuary mentioned later.

Lawn ornaments by Karen

Do not buy something eye catching and adorable and just stick it in the grass.  Plants need a bed and accessories need to become part of the bed.  Do not use a pair of accents generally.  An odd number of 3 or 5 for a grouping works best.  If you must have the strawberry, buy one and put a piece of tempered glass on it for an end table on the patio.

Garden Statue

Do not pair a graceful stone angel with a pair of green ceramic frogs.  Statuary used throughout the design should have something in common.  Use all angels or figures, or all animals.  Collections of similar items, a theme, or of the same color work best.

Less is more - unrelated lawn ornaments by Susan van Gelder

Kids love this one - enough said

Statues, sculptures, figurines

Keep a few things in mind to determine placement of statures, sculptures or figurines.  Larger statuary will set the tone for your garden design, so make sure it works well with the existing style and that it sets the desired tone.  In casual designs a statue should be set off to one side rather than centered.  Just about any statue is best when tucked into foliage, accompanied by plants, or grounded by a pedestal or pavers.  Try to achieve what would be a natural setting if the statue were real.

by Teresia
Garden Angels by Marc-Oliver Maheu

Both great examples of creating a natural appearance with statue placement, it is easy to imagine a dog snoozing by the coolness of foliage or two child angels whispering and giggling half hidden.

Natural composition of statues by Billy V

This clever composition required some thought and planning.  Creating a scene with child statues takes grouping similar items a step further.  Small children watching a sleeping baby they have come upon is a completely believable scene.

Garden Gargoyle by Melanie Watts
Garden Gargoyle by William Ross

Gargoyles are quite naturally at home on a perch, whether a stump, wall, or pedestal.

Garden Gargoyle bookended by Ellie Gee

Using a gargoyle, lion or chinese dog statue can work well to bookend a garden wall or hedge.  This creature has his own pedestal perch, or the wall could be used as a perch.

Give your statue a grounded place if not tucked in by Michael Perrie
Lawn Angel by Tony Alter

Statues need to be “connected” to your landscape by creating a grounded place such as these pavers or stepping stones, or partially tucking them into foliage like this garden angel.  On the left , a composition is created by using items made of similar material. The gray of the figure is repeated in the pale gray pavers, and the floral decoration on the pot.  On the right, note in the left background a similar figure creates rhythm and unity by unevenly spacing themed figures through the design to lead your attention around the gardens.

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