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Outdoor Decor & Water Features

posted May 3, 2011, 12:20 PM by Sue Jacobson   [ updated by Cathy Wayson ]
The April 2011 Horticulture Exhibit from Diane Cobb included numerous ideas for outdoor decor.  Read her ideas below and then click on the following links to see photos of them.

Outdoor Decor & Water Features
Gardens bring great pleasure, but we seldom enjoy them to the fullest. We
spend hours potting, watering, weeding, pruning but very little time savoring
the beauty we’ve created with nature. Trade your pruners for a cushion and
relax amid the lush landscape and...
★ Creating outdoor rooms and furnishing them with beauty and comfort in mind.
★ Wandering along a garden path and discovering unique garden accents.
★ Decorating the garden for winter.
★ Connecting your house to the land with your garden.
★ Contemplating the endless possibilities that lie just outside your own door.
Create inviting spaces that beckon you to explore and enjoy
your garden.
1. Remember, a sofa is not a living room, and a perennial bed is not a garden. Think about
the room first, its function and feel you want, then the details.
2. Picture how you want to “be” in your garden. Clipping cosmos? Potting plants? Relaxing
reading? Drinking dining? Brunching with a bunch? Jotting in a journal? Staring at the
3. Separate garden ʻroomsʼ have their own identity but should be linked to each other and
to the house through your personal style.
4. Build your rooms to “be” in:
✓ Walls with hedges and such
✓ Floorings of ground covers
✓ Ceilings of trees, climbing vines, and the sky
✓ Architectural interest with hard scape; walls, paths, steps, patio, gazebo, pergola
✓ Furniture; bench, table, chairs, lighting
✓ Accessorize with bold plant shapes
✓ Finish with garden beds dressed in planting schemes that use plants with different
textures, growing habits, and bloom time unified through color.
✓ Consider:
• FORM - the shape of a thing
• SCALE - proportionate size of one object to another
• TEXTURE - tactile and visual qualities
• MASS - quantity; expanse of color, general outline

Build a house and it is just a house until you fill it with your own
possessions, then it becomes a home.
A garden becomes a garden-room when you combine the comforts of
home (seating, atmosphere-enhancing accessories, and cherished
collections) with the infinite beauty of the natural world.

Outdoor Decor & Water Features - Page 1

Outdoor Decor Ideas:
• Top your patio table with something pretty;
• A pot of flowers - if seen from inside use color to draw the eye outside as accent or in
harmony with your interior colors.
• An interesting citronella candle holder that fits around the umbrella pole
• Hang a tree swing - hang a bench or old-fashioned classic wooden-board suspended by
ropes and youʼll feel like a kid again as you swing and the breeze lifts your spirits.
• Pull up to a patio fire pit; BONUS - you can burn garden litter and enjoy a wiener roast
at the same time. Sʼmores anyone?
• An outdoor storage seat keeps cushions and grill items out or the elements and
provides extra seating for guests.
• Throw pillows add comfort and appeal to patio furniture; choose quick-drying pillows in
UV-resistant fabrics.
• Add an element of mystery to your porch or patio (and hide from your neighbors) by
partially enclosing it with wood lattice. Add a vine for quiet seclusion with flare. Or,
perhaps, a sturdy bamboo screen is more your style
• A string-of-light; Hang a string or two of outdoor electric lights from a trellis or tree
branches for a festively-lit cook out.
• Umbrella lights will cast a pleasant glow on your patio table without taking up space.
• Light the way along a path or surround your patio with tiki torches. Combine
inexpensive bamboos with a couple of fancy metal ones, fill with citronella oil and relax in
their glow virtually bug-free.
• Up-light your trees with solar-powered fixtures, no wiring required.
• A gate to the garden can hint at what lies beyond or keep it a wonderful secret. You donʼt
need a fence...just the gate, preferably at a transition point, i.e. bend of a path, from one
garden to another, around a corner, etc. To connect house to garden, paint it to match
your front door, shutters or trim.
• Make a garden house, no matter how humble, feel like a cottage by giving it a yard
and picket fence.
• Mirror, mirror on the wall - not just for indoors; make a small space feel more expansive
by hanging a weather-proof mirror where it reflects your garden as if looking through a
• Garden hose in-a-pot or on-a-pole; tame your garden hose by coiling it inside a
container with a drain hole in bottom, or mounting a hose-hanger on a tree or post.
• Define a seating area on patio or deck with an all-weather carpet.
• Add music to your garden with wind chimes; they come in many tone ranges from
highest-giggle to deep bassoon, wood-tones with bamboo, and melodious brass-plated
bells with wood clappers.
• Add motion to your garden with whirligigs, weathervanes, twirlers, and such; available
from the inexpensive plastic twirler to vintage whirligig they will bring a smile to your face
as you watch them dance in the breeze.
• Create a scented garden with aromatic plants such as lavender, mints, rosemary, honey
suckle, 4 Oʼclock, etc.

Outdoor Decor & Water Features - Page 2

• Create a “Night Garden” that glows by planting all-white blooms; Shasta daisies, moon
flowers, petunias, palest delphinium and foxglove with Lambʼs ears as backdrop.
• Plant soft, touchable plants such as Lambʼs ears and moss within easy reach of a path
or a seat.
• Plant in mass for massive effect. Think of a sweep of rudbeckias or purple cone flowers,
masses of mums, or a bank of ferns.
• Use finial-tipped stakes around your flower bed to protect it from dragged hoses. Add
bright colored cord to the stake for a fun ʻrail around the rosesʼ.
• Line colored Adirondack chairs up in a row to lure guests to a pretty view of our
garden. Tuck one along a garden path where you can relax between garden tasks.
• Mount a handsome and functional rain gauge where it will be easy to read and empty -
less than 1-inch in a week? Itʼs time to water.
• A decorative sprinkler placed strategically in the garden works double time as a point of
interest and watering device you donʼt have to adjust every time..
• Pots on a ledge; place several pots in bold colors or interesting shapes or designs on a
ledge, a wall, window sill, lead the way along a path, up steps, just about anyplace you
would enjoy an accent of color or to fill a hole. Contrast is key to artful displays.
• Posts in a row painted in a color that harmonizes with surrounding plants, i.e. Red
azaleas with red posts.
• Take an ʻElfinʼ thyme walk; ʻElfinʼ thyme planted between pavers softens their effect
while cushioning your steps.
• Welcome visitors and add cohesion to garden areas with stepping stones. They can
connect the spots with formal sedateness or casual curves.
• An urn on a pedestal gives it the character of art, dignified and expresses stability.
• A well-placed piece of sculpture brings a sense of permanence to the garden.
• Mossy pots look charmingly weathered, and are easy to create. Blend some moss with
yogurt or buttermilk and a little water to make it of paintable consistency. Brush on pots or
statuary and place in shady nook to let the moss take over.
• Creatures real or faux are fun. Set a green frog by a pond, a stone squirrel atop a fence
post. Welcome real creatures with food and water, shelter and homes.

Outdoor Decor & Water Features - Page 3

Water Features

Adding a water feature to your garden is a beautiful way to enhance your
yard. Fortunately, a water feature is a beautiful option for those with limited
space and limited funds or lots of space and plenty of funds. The next time you
find yourself yearning for the peaceful serenity that water brings, consider one
of these quick and easy projects to add some pizzazz to your décor.
• Birdbath; make it a focal point in a garden visible from patio or window. Surround it with
nectar flowers for the butterflies and with a tree or shrub nearby where birds can hide
when they feel threatened. Then sit back and enjoy the show. Remember to change the
water every few days to prevent it from becoming a mosquito factory in the summer and
an ice rink in winter.
• Quick water garden; use a container you have on hand or pick up an interesting
container at a flea market or garage sale, add water-loving plant in itʼs pot topped with
gravel and elevated on bricks so the crowns at plants preferred level, and just add water.
Feed during growing season with aquatic plant food available at most nurseries.
• Interesting urn equals water fountain; drop in a recirculating pump with bubbler with
the electrical cord threaded through the drain hole. Plug the drain hole, add water, plug in
and relax to the soothing sound of water gurgling and splashing.
• Reflecting pool; fill with water a large, shallow container such as a plant saucer placed
on a post where it will reflect a flowering shrug or just the sky. Remember that there isn't
much point having a mirror pool or pond if you aren't reflecting something worth reflecting.
A set-apart structure such as a gazebo does well. Likewise, a dramatic architectural
feature, statue or ornamental tree. Just remember that if you want to see the reflection at
night you need the object to be well lit. If you are relying on a tiki torch to illuminate the
object, ensure the object is either small enough or that you have enough torches to
illuminate it well.
• Illuminate your fish pond with submersible LED light to enjoy the water wonderland
after dark.
• Glass floats in a rainbow of colors bring cheer as they bob pleasantly on a pondʼs water.

KEEPING WATER CLEAN - Using 3% Grocery and Drugstore Hydrogen Peroxide:
    DRINKING WATER - to kill algae in rain barrels and animal drinking troughs = 8 oz. to 50 gallons of water

    RAIN BARRELS - to kill algae in rain barrels = 8 oz. to 50 gallons of water

    FISH PONDS & DECORATIVE WATER FEATURES = 1/2 gallon per 1000 gallons of water or 16 oz. per 100 gallons of water

    BIRDBATHS = 1 To 2 tablespoons depending on depth of water

ALSO - Several copper pennies in bird baths will help reduce algae.