Garden Sculpture Yard Art Ideas

Garden art pieces can help highlight landscape features like a specific flower bed.
Garden art pieces can help highlight landscape features like a specific flower bed. (Image: CoffmanCMU/iStock/Getty Images)

In a garden, plants are usually the main attraction, but a landscape definitely benefits from the right supporting cast. Sculptures and artwork can help add interest to a yard, highlight certain plantings and give a sense of whimsy to a garden. But that doesn't mean you should just throw any old statue in any old spot in the landscape. Finding the right pieces and placing them in the correct locations is key if you want the artwork to really make the garden come alive.

Make a Match

When you’re selecting a sculpture or artwork for the garden, choose pieces that complement the style of the landscape. For example, stone cherubs or gargoyles make a striking statement in a Victorian garden but look dated and out of place in a modern garden with a minimalist design. Instead, choose a sculpture that features streamlined, geometric shapes for a modern space. For a garden in a Southwestern landscape, Native American-inspired pottery fits the look. An antique sundial works well in a colonial garden, while a decorative birdhouse can serve as the primary art piece in a farmhouse-inspired landscape.

Reuse and Recycle

Although you can find plenty of garden sculptures and artwork at garden supply stores, personalize the look of your garden by incorporating recycled items as decorative pieces. Install an antique door or stained glass window as a centerpiece in the garden, or create flower or insect sculptures from old license plates to place among the plantings. Take a trip to antique or thrift stores to see what objects might work with the garden's theme – an old ship wheel makes a whimsical sculpture for a nautical landscape, while vintage chairs or stools can be stacked to form an oversized sculpture in a rustic landscape.

Find a Place

Choosing the right spot for garden artwork can be just as important as selecting the right pieces. Start by considering the background behind the sculpture -- setting a smaller sculpture in front of tall ornamental grasses or another solid background can help emphasize details in the artwork that might otherwise be overlooked. For a sculpture with an attractive patina or delicate color, consider how the light will hit it. Positioning it in a spot where it receives illumination from the setting sun can really play up its appearance. You can also place artwork to highlight other features in the garden. For example, place a stone statue beside a pond or fountain to call attention to it. If you have tall plantings, it’s a good idea to elevate the yard art on a pedestal to ensure it’s visible.

Make a Set

You don’t want to overload a garden with sculptures and artwork or it may begin to look overcrowded. But in some cases, you can make a bolder statement by grouping together several sculptures or art pieces. This effect works particularly well in a desert garden where there usually aren’t as many plantings. Set two or more large steel sculptures of animals on a bed of light-colored gravel to add visual interest to an otherwise bland landscape. In a traditional garden, arrange several small, delicate statues or sculptures rather than a single large piece to help create a sense of balance in the design.

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