A carefully-positioned piece of sculpture, like a garden statue, serves as a superb focal point for your landscaping. What is a focal point? In this case, a focal point is anything distinctive that functions as a signpost to guide the eye around your garden. Statues add variety and interest to your outdoor space. They’re particularly good for keeping your garden attractive even in the winter when the plants stop flowering.
Picking the ideal spot for a statue depends on the specific design of your garden. In a well-laid-out garden, different shapes and forms and the contrast between plants and hardscape items will naturally draw the eye through the different outdoor spaces you’ve created. (This can do a great job of making your space look larger!) Statues and other sculptures can reinforce this visual journey and keep the eye moving the way you want it to.
Focal points (statues, seating areas, pots, etc.) can be used both to distinguish the center of a distinct space and to signify the transitions between spaces.
Your garden’s focal points will be most effective if they are aligned with other strong visual elements. A statue placed to be the central feature of the view from your kitchen window is an excellent example. You can use angled lines of sight, as well; if you put the same statue at the edge of the window view, it will naturally attract attention to that side of the garden. Statues and sculptures are also excellent for anchoring linear elements in your garden design. They make a strong finish for paths, for instance.
We can start by identifying statues that are problematic for modern garden use. Personally, I think that white classical statues are difficult to fit into your garden unless you’ve already laid out an elaborate, baroque design. I wouldn’t say that classical statuary is absolutely impossible, but it does tend to clash with simple, modern designs. On the level of personal taste, I also dislike the funerary associations that tend to come with classical pieces – I don’t want to design a garden that could be mistaken for a cemetery!
If you’re really interested in setting up a classical statue, consider the full range of finishes available to you. Many classical garden sculptures are available in a weathered, gray finish that it is much easier to work into a modern garden.
Of course, the modern garden sculpture market goes far beyond classical statuary. You can find quality modern art pieces, natural rock formations, and everything in between at a well-stocked garden supply store. Look at these options from Soothing Company.
We can’t underplay the importance of personal taste in picking statues, sculptures, and other garden decorations. My tastes don’t matter at all when it comes to picking statues for YOUR garden. If you absolutely love the idea of a pure white classical statue, go ahead and try it out.
If you’re less certain about what sort of sculpture you’re looking for, take the time to make a full survey of the different shapes and materials being used today.
In many cases, simple material matching can go a long way toward establishing an elegant garden look. If your paving is very modern and you’ve installed crisp concrete retaining walls, for example, an abstract modernist statue is likely to look much more at home than a classical piece.
If you’ve invested extra effort in making your garden look natural, you’ve created a good setting for sculptures made from natural materials, like wood. Natural settings are tremendously versatile, though, and they can work harmoniously with modern and classical sculpture, too.
You always have the option of creating your own focal points and sculptures. I confess I’ve done more than my fair share of these; my parents’ garden got positively cluttered with my DIY creations. I try to tell myself that I did a good job, but the fact that my mother left most of them behind when she moved is probably telling. Do-it-yourself garden sculpture is easy. GOOD do-it-yourself garden sculpture can be a bit of a challenge!
Creating your own focal points is one of the subjects we’ll examine in our next piece. We’ll also examine other alternatives to traditional purchased statues and sculptures. You can make an attractive focal point out of ordinary everyday objects if you do your own painting and choose your positions carefully.