Including art in your garden design can be loads of fun and bring a unique quality to your outdoor spaces. Whether your selections are flamboyant or subtle, a small decorative piece or a major work, artwork of any kind in your garden can create a major point of interest for visitors and an ongoing source of inspiration for you.
For many people the idea of selecting garden art can be quite daunting so they hurry the process or avoid all together. Art has been closely linked with garden design since early civilisations and still today has an integral garden design function to play. With the right state of mind you can find the perfect piece of art to complement the mood of your outdoor world, no matter its size or layout, that will bring you pleasure for many years to come.
The choice of garden art available to designers now is greater than ever before. From Iron and copper sculptures to marble figures, mosaic balls to plated tables, modern garden art encompasses all cultures and styles. Even for the most experienced designers the choice can be overwhelming, so where do you start?
The first step in selecting garden art is to trust your instincts. Chose something that you feel passionate about – not what is in style at the time or what you’ve been told to buy. Your own confidence in what you like is the starting point for selecting any artwork. If you aren’t certain what you like be patient and find a piece that stands out or one you ‘keep coming back to’.
Frame The Art
When deciding on a location for your new piece of garden art consider these points:
- Think about where you will view the work from – the view from inside your home is just as important as from the garden.
- Framing is equally about blocking details out as it is highlighting the piece – distracting elements must be blocked out to provide maximum impact.
- Framing with plants will subtly blend the artwork into the garden.
- Try an overhead frame like an arch or arbour – try framing your art with a pattern around the base such as paving, stones or a hedge.
- Introduce a reverse frame by growing vines on a wall – place a sculpture in front of the wall and trim the leaves behind it.
Create A Statement
Always have a vision of the kind of presence you expect the artwork to have in your garden. Is it going to be a focal point or a finishing touch? Whatever piece you decide on it must draw your attention.
Consider what kind of lifestyle your garden is tailored to. Is your garden designed for entertaining, relaxation, activity or aesthetics? Your selected artwork must blend and suit the ‘lifestyle’ of your garden. If it doesn’t suit it will not work. For example, slate and stone sculptures will create a sense of oasis and relaxation, particularly when combined with water. Murals with colour incorporated or glazed ceramics will be more stimulating and better suited to entertaining areas.
Know your Garden Style
You must know and understand the ‘style‘ of your garden. Japanese, urban, formal, cottage, Tuscan, country or other – you must consider your garden style to chose your artwork correctly. The art must compliment the style. Any individual piece can look terrific given the right setting. What is important is that the opposite is also true – any art can look awful if it clashes with the rest of your garden. Rustic farm style artwork will not suit a Tuscan themed garden. Likewise an abstract sculpture will look out of place in a country-style garden.
Also consider the association between materials and garden styles. Unglazed terracotta works for instance are associated with Tuscan gardens, marble pieces with formal gardens, timber and iron with country gardens. While your artwork should stand out in the garden, it should serve to highlight your chosen style, not detract from it.
Key To Success
The key is to keep the perspective of your entire garden in mind when choosing garden artworks. If you have a style already firmly fixed try taking some photos of your garden with you when shopping for pieces to compliment it. If you intend for the artwork to be a focal point of your garden, it is best for it to be part of the gardens original design.
Try sketching your garden to scale and include the intended locations for your garden art. This will help to ensure that the pieces you purchase are the correct size for the locations. The most common error made when selecting artworks for the garden is purchasing items that are too small. To get a feel for how the artwork will impact your garden try placing an object of similar size in the location.
To conclude I will stress the importance of practicalities. These few tips will help ensure wise decisions:
- Consider children in the garden – if they use the space for physical activity chose artwork that is not easily broken.
- Avoid placing pieces on walls or steps where they may be easily knocked off.
- Concrete pieces may crack if subjected to locations that are likely to have dramatic changes in temperature.
- Water sculptures made from concrete should be treated with a proprietary sealing agent to prevent lime from leaching out.
- Sedimentary stone based artworks such as limestone and sandstone are porous and can attract mosses and lichens.
- Glazed finishes on artworks will ensure they don’t fade or rust.
This practical advice should help you to choose artwork for your garden that blends in and creates interest as a focal point. If you have any further advice about selecting pieces for the garden let us know your ideas in the comments section below. Happy gardening!
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