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How to Use Objects in Borders
You may have noticed during garden visits or watching TV garden shows just how many gardeners use things other than plants in their borders. Some of these serve a ‘function’ as props for plants, some are there just for their own intrinsic qualities. But all are there to enhance the border and the garden in general. A well placed object helps to pull a border together, making it look well dressed even when your planting is new. They add bulk, interest, and they don't have to be perfect. You can make instant focal points using things other than plants, without heavy digging or waiting for plants to grow. It’s important to work out your design and style. Match your border props to the style of your garden or a particular area. Make them work with the layout of your garden, to add something to the design - use them at key points - the brow of a curve, where paths intersect - and always to complement the surrounding plants. The following steps give you some different ideas.
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For cottage gardens where there is informal, cheerful planting, use some made wigwams, or old garden tools past the end of their useful life to support climbers and scramblers. Scarecrows look good - in families - whether you need them or not. Also large old stoneware flagons, old baskets which could disguise black plastic pots full of seasonal planting. Other suitable objects are rhubarb forcers - full or empty! And large old kitchen utensils, planted or not.
For a more contemporary look use any of the following: painted posts of varying heights and sizes; homemade works of art; galvanised and stainless metal objects; plain large ceramic pots, large blocks of wood, carved or plain; modern concrete statues - becoming more available at moderate prices; large standing stones - could be set in grass, amidst trees.
If you want to use objects to break up planting in a large border use statues, seats or large pots - planted or unplanted. Borders more than 3 - 4 m deep by the same length, become very difficult to get into to manage your plants. Using objects that fit the spot helps to break up the area into a more manageable space. Use stepping stone slabs to show off your feature, and to help with your maintenance. Some natural border features: bird baths, sun dials, seats - can be single old kitchen chairs painted up, statues, other stone/concrete objects.
Objects are fantastic at making focal points in your garden so use these ideas to make inexpensive focal points. Strong features hold attention in your garden rather than let your gaze wander to a less good view beyond. The end of a strong axis invariably needs a resolution, a reward at the end of a straight path. For year round effects, give focal point objects an evergreen backdrop of plants. Other ways to enhance inexpensive objects into something more grand: install a trellis panel surround to match your theme; frame the feature - use a vigorous plant such as golden hop for summer cover of leaves.
When choosing colour the good thing is you can experiment with objects (you don’t have to wait for them to come into flower). You can paint them a colour to match surrounding planting. Or choose the opposite colour on the spectral wheel and see how they really do complement each other. Cheap items can be given a different colour each season or year - follow garden fashion instantly - or take the lead with your own tastes.
Scarecrows can be decorative as well as useful
Ornaments on a hard surface make great breaks for borders
Tall objects add vertical lines to your planting
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   Gardening on a roof top        Lighting in your garden
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   Making a woodland garden        Plan a garden from scratch
   Planning a spring border        Planning a summer border
   Planning a winter border        Planning an autumn border
   Revamp an overgrown garden        Revamping a Patio
   Shaping a lawn        Simple topiary
   Using colour in your garden        Using exotic plants
   Using microclimates        Using objects in borders

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