Birdhouses and garden gnomes are fine if you don’t mind having the same garden decor everyone else has. If you’re looking for a way to express your unique personal style, though, don’t just settle for the ideas you get from your local home and garden store. Take home a few of these less common decor pieces and make your backyard truly your own.
These glass garden accents were popularized during the Victorian period when 4-inch hanging balls of either gold or blue were used to scare off witches. Miniature gazing globes are designed to hang in the air along a garden path or beside a pond. Today’s globes are typically ten to twelve inches, but globes as small as five inches and as large as twenty inches can also be found. Blue and green globes capture light well, but if you want a clear reflection of your backyard, go with silver. Warm colors like red or gold work well near seating or above plants of a similar color. Gazing globes can be placed directly on the lawn or in a flowerbed, but they reflect light better if mounted on a stand. Stands are often works of art in themselves, ranging from classical Greek columns with scrolls and acanthus leaves to whimsical designs with animals, fairies, and other figures.
A backyard sundial not only makes a unique conversation piece, it’s also functional. When installed correctly, sundials keep quite accurate time. While horizontal sundials are the most common, there are also vertical sundials that can be hung on a wall. A more unusual design is the reflected ceiling dial. This horizontal sundial uses sun reflected from a mirror to drawn the hour lines on the ceiling. For many home landscapers, though, time telling comes second to aesthetic value. In addition to hour lines, the sundial plates are typically enhanced with a design such as an animal or leaves, and many carry inscriptions. Usually the dial’s gnomon, or hour hand, is also incorporated into the design on the dial plate.
Topiaries–trailing plants grown on wire forms–make eye-catching backyard decor for both formal and casual landscapes. For an up-scale look, use several to accent the backyard’s entrance or arrange them in uniform rows. Create your own backyard museum piece by standing a topiary on a pedestal. If your landscape has a more laid-back look, just let the topiaries grow a little more freely and put them anywhere they fit in. In any garden, topiaries also make attractive “fixtures” for landscape lighting. Sophisticated as they look, small topiaries costs very little to make. All you need to create one is a pot, a windng plant like ivy geranium or English ivy, and a frame such as an upturned tomato cage.
Rain chains, called “kusari doi” in their native Japan, make beautiful and practical backyard decor. Although rain chains have been used for centuries in Japan to gather water, these days in the west they’re used primarily for draining water from the roof. However they’re used, rain cascading down these chains makes stormy weather look and sound a little more cheerful. Usually made from copper or stainless steel, the chains may be simple interlinked loops or more fanciful rows of tulip or lily cups. To use a rain chain, just remove your downspout and put the rain chain in its place. To complete the look, place a matching copper rain basin under the chain.
Miniature fountains and waterfalls
Would you love to bring the calming sound of running water into your landscape, but don’t have room in your backyard for a full-sized fountain? If so, a tabletop or wall-hanging water feature may be your solution. Self-contained wall-hanging fountains are easy to install on any sturdy garden wall. For very small backyards, there are fountains and tiered waterfalls just 15 inches that can be placed on tabletops or in flowerbeds. Choosing a solar-powered fountain will also save you the trouble of working with electrical wiring.
With these five simple, affordable decor ideas you can liven up your backyard in a single day. Remember that although you might save a little money buying mass-produced items, you’ll get higher quality and more unique backyard decor from professional artisans. One-of-a-kind, handmade garden art not only adds personality to a home’s landscape, it can also become a treasured family heirloom.