Puttering in your yard, having an outdoor barbecue or watching the kids jump on the trampoline, our backyards can be an extension of our interior living space.
We decorate our living rooms. Why why not do a little creative outdoor decorating?
Here are some easy-to-do ideas you might use in your own little wilderness:
Use an old ladder as a plant stand. Lean the ladder against the side of your house or a fence. Sit a collection of pots filled with herbs or blooming flowers on the ladder's steps. You might want to put a bird nest, a pair of colorful gardening gloves or a small sculpture piece between the pots. A ladder also works well as a vine support.
Nail old ceramic trivets or tiles left over from a remodeling project to your fence. Search through your cabinets for other things such as masks, metal sculpture pieces or teapots you can hang from fence posts.
Fill a seldom-used serving platter with brightly colored pebbles or shells and display it on your picnic table.
Recycle an old ceramic serving bowl as a birdbath. Create a mound of soil in the corner of your garden and cover it with a mixture of rocks and plantings. Place the bowl at the top of the heap, filling it with water. Place a few pebbles in the bowl, fill with water and float a few maple leaves on top for a Zen-like effect. Or, just sit the bowl on a tree stump or on your picnic table.
Start a birdhouse collection. My collection fills an entire tree, with the overflow sprinkled throughout the rest of the yard. Several houses sit on top of fence posts, one is nestled in an ivy-filled basket by my front door and others sit in a grouping on top of my picnic table.
Go on a treasure hunt in your kitchen cabinets for waterproof accessories to display in your yard: hang your plate collection on the fence, place a handful of marbles or shells in a saucer on your picnic table or plant ivy in a teapot.
Don't pitch your broken or rusted garden tools. Arrange them along with horseshoes, old house numbers or other rusted odds and ends on the side of your house or tool shed.
Liven up your outdoor wood furniture by painting it the same color as your house's trim color, or your favorite color.
Stencil a climbing ivy pattern over your back door.
Make your own flags. Why spring for ready-made banners when you can recycle fabric you already have? Old quilts, tablecloths, molas or sheets can serve as unique, special-occasion flags.
Hang a Shaker peg board or hammer in a row of nails over your potting table and dangle bundles of drying herbs, your gardening hat or small tools from it.
Use a curved section of branch as a gate handle. Or, visit your local hardware store and purchase an ornate handle, or just paint your old one.
Line up large river cobbles to create a border for your flowerbeds. Bowling balls can be recycled as garden orbs and placed in bare spots in planting beds.
Has your wind chime lost its clapper? Replace it with a hole-y, fossilized beach stone through which you've laced the clapper's old thread. An old key or a pine cone also make attractive clappers.
Copy ideas from garden supply catalogs. Here are a few of my favorite publications:
Wind & Weather
Jackson & Perkins
Crate & Barrel
Plow & Hearth