Outdoor Decor & Water Features

The April 2011 Horticulture Exhibit from Diane Cobb included numerous ideas for outdoor decor.

Imagine Your Garden

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...Imagine...

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 stars?
  • Separate garden ʻroomsʼ have their own identity but should be linked to each other and to the house through your personal style.
  • 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.

  • 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 window.
  • 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.


Creative Extras

  • 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.


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 alga