Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Using Accent Structures

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Accent garden structures can be functional or strictly decorative accents

Decorative structures for the garden are available in nearly unlimited sizes, styles and colors.  Very functional structures such as gazebos, pergolas, bridges, benches, potting benches, garden sheds and even fences can become a beautiful part of your landscape design.  Arbors, trellises, and plant pillars are decorative accents that can add vertical interest and color to your design.

Big Box Gazebo by Steve HarwoodBefore planning a garden structure and its setting in the design, it is important to consider a number of factors.  Environmental factors are very important.  Is your property exposed to high winds?  It is not always possible to securely anchor arbors and trellises.  For an exposed site you will need a very sturdy structure that can be set deeply, anchored, or cemented in so it won’t go over in the wind.  Once the structure is entwined by vineing plants it is even more likely to blow over.  If possible, plants should be removed before winter winds pick up, wind will blow right through an empty structure.  Heavy snow and winds can also be a problem with “big box” structures, especially portable gazebos with canvas canopies.  They are not typically very sturdy and many homeowners simply place them on the lawn.  You may find your structure in the neighbors yard without sufficient structural weight and anchoring.  Buy or build top quality, follow instructions for securing your structure, or have a professional build it.


Arch in winter by Heather FFind the right spot for whatever structure you are considering.  View your landscape from different parts of the property and from several places inside your home, you will want to enjoy your accent structures from inside too!  Is there an empty and ignored space that could be useful or just needs something of interest?  Especially in winter, garden structures can add vertical interest to a snow covered landscape.  Larger structures will create a focal point, so good placement is important.  If you are planning a garden bench, gazebo or pagoda, decide if you prefer a cozy secluded spot?  sunny or shady?  near the house for convenience or a far corner for solitude?

Your garden structures should be used to support your gardens and landscape.  A structure standing alone in your lawn just looks stark and out of place.  A structure can be used to show off your garden, plants, or a functional use of the landscape.  In other words, an arch or path or pergola walkway should always lead somewhere or be an opening to a different functional area of the landscape.  If your structure is strictly decorative, a trellis or plant pillar may be a better option.  A functional structure like a gazebo or garden shed should be incorporated into your garden design and joined by other elements and repeating plants in anchor beds.

Let your personality show in the styles and colors your use!

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