Garden Decorating to Reflect Your Style & Personality

by Steve & Cathy Lambert

Let’s move our decorating wand outdoors, with our Garden and Landscape Design Experts and Contributors Steve and Cathy Lambert. Steve and Cathy share with us great advice for creating beautiful gardens and outdoor living spaces.

Garden ornaments add personality, style and whimsy to your garden. For centuries, gardens have been used as outdoor galleries for displaying collections of sculptures and other works of art. Garden decorating allows you to express your artistic taste with art of your own creation, or with found objects that have captured your eye and beckoned to be placed in your yard.

Bronze Dancing Ladies

There are many styles of garden ornamentation, but the most common are natural, classical, modern/minimalist, Asian and whimsical, all with a wide variety of choices.

Rain Chain Used as Fountain

When choosing a decoration for your garden, ask yourself:

  • Will it complement the plants and the theme of my garden?
  • Does it fit with the style of my home?

Combining too many styles will result in a ‘yard sale’ look. Here are some ideas for adding a unique personal touch to your garden through the use of garden décor.

Stainless Gazing Ball

Gazing balls are a popular garden embellishment for the rainbow of colors they mirror from the plants and flowers that surround them. Traditionally in silver—to reflect the true hues of their surroundings—gazing balls are now available in a large variety of colors to add some pop to your garden even when there is not much in bloom. If you have kids who play sports in your yard, you may want to choose a steel ball over the more common glass globes.

Gazing balls can enhance a classical, whimsical or modern garden depending on the color and material of the ball and the style of its stand. In a modern, minimalist garden, we installed a grouping of stainless steel balls, in varying sizes, laid directly on a gravel pad. We’ve also floated gazing balls in a formal pond and placed a purple ball in a child’s fairy garden atop an ornate wrought iron stand.

Antique Iron Gates

Adding an old, rusted antique object to your garden will give it an old-world feel. This works well with a traditional or romantic garden style. We have two garden antiques in our own yard. The first is a bike-style, knife sharpener which traveled across the ocean from Denmark with Steve’s great grandfather. The rusted colors of the metal and sharpening stone are set off by the moss rock wall behind it. The second is a laundry press. Both pieces add interest and are great conversation starters.

Our Antique Laundry Press as Garden Decor

A client of ours had been hauling around (through several moves) a beautiful, rusted wrought iron gate that he’d salvaged from a dumpster. His wife was threatening to have it taken to the dump until we mounted it to two 6 X 6 posts with a backdrop to their chartreuse Elderberries. The combination of the rusty, elaborately detailed gate with a background of bright chartreuse foliage is truly breathtaking. Old gates and headboards are great finds for an artful climbing trellis.

Rusted Iron Gate with Chartreuse Elderberries

Antique lanterns can be given new life by adding low-voltage wiring. For one client we wired and hung six old brass lanterns in the branches of an oak tree while another had us light up a fairy house to add a touch of fantasy to their garden.

Fairy Home

Planted Antique Chair

A few of the other more interesting antiques we’ve installed include, old millstones as fountains, a 300-year-old Buddha, an ornately carved Indian temple door, and a large brass gong which hung from a frame at the end of a pool so its reflection could be appreciated
at night.

Bubbling Fountain in Gravel PatioColorful Bubbling Fountain
Tiered FountainBubbling Fountain with Eden Rose

There are literally thousands of different fountains available to today’s gardeners. From small bubbling pots to large, multi-tiered styles, there’s a fountain for every taste and space. These garden ornaments will please both your eyes and ears.

Little Girl Sculpture by Spa

Statues are another common choice to adorn a garden. It’s always fun when we’re asked to landscape around statuary or a sculpture. An artist client whose medium was large scale bronze had us design a garden around her two, 9-foot tall bronze ballerinas. These sculptures came to life at night with the addition of amber accent lights (see photo at top
of article).

Kinetic Sculpture

Our Kinetic Sculpture from Chimey Flue with Industrial Rooftop Fan

Kinetic sculptures add another dimension of movement to the garden when the wind blows. We made a simple and inexpensive, wind blown sculpture for our yard by topping a terra-cotta chimney flue with a painted, industrial rooftop fan.

Glass Bird Bath with Candleabra PrimroseVictorian Bird House

Birdbaths and birdhouses are popular choices for garden decorating. Cathy has an affinity for interesting and rustic birdhouses and dressed up our boring back fence by using her collection to top the fence posts. The beauty of adding a birdhouse or birdbath to your yard is that you can find one to fit any style of garden.

Mailbox for Garden Tools Storage

An old or interesting mailbox can also be a fun and functional fence post topper when used as a handy place to store your garden gloves and trowels.

Antique Window Dresses Up Plain Brick Wall

Dress up a dull fence or wall with an attention-grabbing object. We used an old window frame, with mirror replacing the glass, on a boring brick wall to add sparkle and color with its reflection of our flower border.

Mirror on Boring Stucco Wall

Consider using a pedestal in an otherwise dull spot to show off a variety found or seasonal objects. Ours holds a ceramic egg in the spring and summer, our best looking pumpkin in the fall and three white pumpkins stacked and decorated as a snowman in the winter.

Snake in the FlowersAntique Horn as Garden Decor
Rusted People SculptureBlown Glass Flowers

When shopping for garden décor, consider the following:

  1. Think about the object’s size and shape. How well does the ornament fit with the overall scale or flow of your garden?
  2. Consider its color. Does it blend with or add a complementary contrast to the colors of your garden and home?
  3. What type of material (wood, iron, concrete, metal, stone, etc.) would best blend with your garden theme and other existing objects?
  4. Take into account how the weather or nearby sprinklers might effect your chosen object. Will the ornament be able to withstand the elements without fading or chipping or will additional weathering enhance its look and appeal?
  5. Most importantly, is it something that expresses your style?


Cathy and Steve LambertSteve and Cathy Lambert have created distinctively dramatic, custom gardens since 1989, through their award-winning Garden Lights Landscape & Pool Development in Orinda, CA. They share with us their advice and expertise on all areas of garden and landscape.

Landscape Designer/Contractor and Master Gardener Steve envisions and creates romantic, welcoming and functional outdoor living spaces. His writer-wife Cathy wordsmiths Steve’s technical advice into something easy to understand and fun to read for the everyday DIY gardener. Together they also write the “Way to Grow” column for The Orinda News.


What kind of garden ornaments do you like?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

6 Comments for “Garden Decorating to Reflect Your Style & Personality”

I love the dancing ladies, could you share with me where I might purchase this, or something like this?
Thank you!

Any chance on getting DIY instructions for the Rain Chain Fountain? It would be fabulous start for my back yard/patio remodel.

Thank you,
Tracy from
Pasco, WA

Hi Tracy,

I’ve alerted Cathy & Steve that have the knowledge here. Hopefully they can point you to some resources.



I am told the dancing ladies were an original piece of art, collected by Cathy & Steve’s client who is an avid art collector. I just gave them a shout out — perhaps they might give you some more ideas. And please excuse the late reply — meant to get back to you much earlier!


Hi Amanda,
Kathy was correct. The dancing bronze sculptures were purchased by our client who is an art collector directly from the artist. I’m sorry I don’t have any more detail on who the artist was. The dancing figures are still, to date, one of the most beautiful examples of garden art that we’ve had the pleasure of lighting up.

Cathy Lambert

Hi Tracy,

Glad you like the look of the rain chain fountain! This fountain not only adds a beautiful focal point to your garden both during the day and an even more stunning effect when lit up at night, but it also provides the soothing sounds of water.

The base is a galvanized horse trough. The water circulates with a pump, hidden beneath water plants and lilies in the trough, through pipes mounted to the wooden posts on the side of the arbor and then trickles back down the copper lilly rain chains. We repurposed terra cotta pipes as columns to cover the wooden posts and water pipes. These terra cotta pipes can be purchased at most large plumbing supply stores. The “down” lights are mounted to the arbor. It’s difficult to see this from the posted photo, but our client had a faux painter paint the horse trough to look like old copper with a patina finish.

I hope this info. helps and Good Luck with your project!

Leave a Comment

Tags: , , , , , ,

Subscribe to Email News

Keep up with the latest Challenges news, and creative design & decorating inspiration when you Subscribe to Homeworkshop's Design Junkies Journal.

Automatically Receive Content
Follow HomeWorkshop on Twitter Follow HomeWorkshop on Pinterest Follow HomeWorkshop RSS feed
Let's Go Shopping
Make your own thrifted shabby chic pieces in a weekend

Put our button on your site!
Copy the code below:

Fab Web Sites