Flowers are the face of a garden, providing color and texture. But a few well-placed landscape accessories can give it character and a dash of personality.
Accessories can range from water fixtures, like ponds and streams, to outdoor furniture and appliances, fountains to statuary, miniature fairy gardens to antiques. Give it some thought, however.
"There's some wonderful stuff out there (to collect) and it's awfully tempting, but you have to be really careful not to overdo it," said Linda Engstrom, a landscape designer from Portland, Oregon.
She advises putting no more than two or three items in one area. "It gets too cluttered and the eye doesn't know where to go," she said. "You need some negative space."
Many of those items also can be high-maintenance.
And landscape accessories should fit the architectural style of the home, Engstrom said.
"I had a client once who had a Tudor house but who wanted a Japanese garden. That wasn't such a great idea, but I was able to give her a Japanese-style garden semi-enclosed in the backyard, and it wasn't jarring," she said.
Engstrom doesn't like the trend toward elaborate outdoor living rooms with weather-proof furniture. "I can't picture leaving that stuff out there in wet or snowy winters," she said. "It's quite a chore to keep it looking nice when placed outside."
Accessories can be used to screen unsightly utility sheds or add some visual flavor to hobby greenhouses, she said. "Put up a pergola and string it with vines and flowers. Add a fountain or garden seat."
Homemade landscaping objects are becoming fashionable again, said Leonard Perry, an extension professor with the University of Vermont.
"Making your own accessories may be a great way to save money, a fun craft hobby or family activity," Perry said. "Making colorful pavers (stepping stones), either with inlaid objects, designs or leaf impressions, is a great activity to involve children."
Creativity also comes into play finding unusual objects from flea markets, garage sales or your basement, and figuring out how to incorporate them into a garden.
Landscape accessories can be functional as well as attractive. Consider low-voltage lighting that enhances safety along walks and drives, and home security. "Up-lighting" tree trunks or creating a lighting "wash" along the side of a home can add focus and drama, Perry said.
"Use lights to highlight fountains, plants and containers in full bloom so they can be enjoyed in the evening, too," he said.
Tastes vary, of course, Perry notes. "What is tacky to some may appear to be a thing of beauty to thatgardener or homeowner," he said. - DEAN FOSDICK, Associated Press (AP)