Karen Atkins owns Proper Gardens, a design firm, (propergardens.com). Get more help from Karen by following her blog on our State by State Gardening website. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for our free enewsletter.


Jewelry for the Lawn
by Karen Atkins - posted 05/14/14

An urn abundantly planted with tulips reigns at the center of a main axis in the garden. Clipped hedges and neatly edged grass provide contrast and perfect symmetry to set it off. 1

Just as a strong necklace can change the look of any outfit, the right lawn ornament can change the mood in any garden. So, the question is, what kind of a mood are you in?


If you like tailored, simple clothing — this might be your category. Formal statues, cast-iron urns, fountains and tuteurs punctuate classic gardens well. For added elegance and harmony, try painting them, as well as your front door, all in a high-gloss black. Birdhouses can be made to look like small pavilions or little Colonial cottages, if this is your style. Neatness counts in classic gardens, so tightly clipped hedges and clean edging around ornaments complete the look.

Animals are living ornaments. Invite wildlife to enjoy food and clean water. 2

A vintage birdcage contains a ceramic bird. It could also hold a candle in the evening. Large shrubs, such as hollies and rhododendrons are excellent for showcasing hanging ornaments with an evergreen background. 3

Fountains delight the ear as well as the eye. Many just require electricity and can be filled by bucket, making installation inexpensive and easy. 4


If you wear big straw hats and flowing summer dresses, adorn your garden with rose swags made from marine rope. Set out benches for garden fairies or hang wind chimes. Architectural salvage yards are “the bomb” for romantics. You can find the most unusual things and the price is always right. Shabby chic porch columns with flaking paint are gorgeous in the garden, and a single section of ornamental fencing makes an ornate trellis. Try making a shelf for potted plants using recycled corbels and a simple board, or hang an old mirror that is losing its silver.

A column lends architecture to a bed of tulips. Salvage yards carry old porch columns that can be used singly, or in rows as a support for rose swags.5

Architectural salvage yards carry sections of fencing, gates or broken benches. All make lovely trellises. 6


Fun and trendy, this group is for gardeners who enjoy an inside joke. When we moved, we found a huge cast-iron bee and sprayed him gold before he landed on our mailbox. Giant chess pieces are playful on grass and concrete checkerboards, or different birdhouses on all of your fence posts could be fun.

Challenge yourself to express something uniquely personal. A car repair shop I know has actual transmissions filled with petunias out front, which I thought was genius.

A collection of pots, filled with Johnny jump ups, roosts on an old ladder. 7



1. Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.com/© Debu55y
2. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com/© Ursular
3. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com/© Emma98
4. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com/© Christopher Rawlins
5. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com/© Sergey Ovsyannikov
6. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com/© Dallaseventsinc
7. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com/© Chris Lofty

From State-by-State Gardening November/December 2013.


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