The idea of statues and sculptures decorating gardens is trendy, though it is far from new. In fact, excavations have determined that the Neanderthals had sculpture gardens. Every ancient culture had gardens with ornamental installations, from Mesopotamian to Egyptian to Far Eastern to Mesoamerican. It appears that decorating a garden with statues and sculptures may be inherently human.
Homeowners today are taking a more sophisticated approach to their outdoor spaces. They want them to be an extension of the living spaces in the home, and they are designing them as such. It certainly uplifts a garden, makes it more welcoming and more entertaining, to install beautiful or whimsical or simply unexpected statues and sculptures.
What Materials Work Well For Outdoors Statues and Sculptures?
Natural stone, such as marble and granite, is ideal for outdoors. It is non-porous and more durable than concrete and cast stone as well as many other materials.
Cast stone is a refined precast concrete. It can be made to look like any natural stone. When glass or plastic fibers are added to the mix, it is almost as strong as natural stone and less susceptible to weather conditions than concrete. It also ages beautifully.
Most garden statues are mass produced from concrete. Concrete is very heavy, so keep the statue small. It is porous - water can seep into the crevices then freeze, thaw and crack if you have cold winters.
Bronze, brass, copper, lead, aluminum and stainless steel look fantastic and are durable, but some metals are more susceptible to corrosion.
- Bronze is the crème de la crème of outdoor ornament materials. Original bronze statuary is labor intensive and very expensive, though it may very well appreciate in value. It will last for centuries and ages to a lovely green hue.
- Lead is a heavy but relatively soft material. It may bend or break if not well supported. It keeps its pretty soft gray color for years and can be molded into delicate details.
- Aluminum is ideal for contemporary outdoor sculptures. It is lightweight, strong as steel and brighter than polished silver. Coat it and it will stay that way for 20-30 years.
Wood must be treated to be used outdoors. If not, it will rot over time. Wood sculptures are subtle additions to the garden. They provide an earthy note and become part of the ecosystem of the garden as years go by. They are for the person who likes guests to "spy" the sculptures rather than be confronted by them.
Resins and Fiberglass
These are relatively new materials for outdoor statues and sculptures, but very attractive choices. They are lightweight, durable and less expensive than some other materials. You can find original art re-created in resins or fiberglass to "gussy up" your garden.
Is There a "Best Place" in the Garden for a Particular Statue or Sculpture?
The very best place is where you enjoy it. But we have some ideas to get you started.
- A large statue or sculpture is usually the focal point. This could be at the end of a long path or at the entrance to the garden or by a water feature. If you have a tall hedge, large statues set at intervals along it break up the "blank" space and add interest.
- A large-scale abstract sculpture should be placed where it can be viewed from various angles.
- In a formal garden, a set of four statues can be used at the corners.
- If you already have a favorite statue that is not all that large, place it among dwarf plants or plants with small foliage to give it attention.
- Place a statue or sculpture where it can be seen from your window. If you want to draw the eye across the garden, place it at a diagonal to the window.
- Tuck away your quirkier pieces at random to give guests the delight of discovering them.
- If you have room, create a tranquil nook with a bench and small Asian-inspired statues.