A landscaping accessory is any non-plant landscaping item that is used to provide visual interest for your garden. A landscaping accessory can be as fancy as a trellis or gazing ball or as simple as decorative cement edging in a border. However, as with all decorating, careful selection of landscaping accessories is important. Careful selection and placement of accessories can bring harmony to a garden. Selecting too many accessories or placing them wrong can make your garden seem crowded.
Although the term landscape architecture is a recent one, humans have been carefully designing gardens for pleasure at least since early recorded history. Egyptian tomb paintings depict the pharaohs and their families enjoying formal ponds with papyrus reeds and floating lotus placed in them. In France during the time of Louis XIV, the royal kitchen garden was laid out in an ornamental style, with a 20-acre potager that contained a splashing fountain at its center.
Landscaping accessories can provide structure for a garden. Vertical accessories such as trellises can help the garden to grow upward and provide vertical interest, while decorative borders and pathways can lay out boundaries that define a garden. In winter, when plants have died back, accessories remain to give the garden visitor something to look at while portable fireplaces provide warmth that allows the visitor to linger. Garden accessories can also help to give a garden a theme. A white grape arbor can make a garden feel like a Tuscan garden, whereas a sundial with a green patina can make a garden feel like an English garden.
The types of ornaments available for a garden are only limited by the gardener's imagination. Ornaments can range from sculptures made of metal or stone to useful accessories such as terra cotta pots, sun dials, clay chimneys and fire pits. Other accessories can include decorative fencing or stone borders.
Some garden accessories, such as urns and planters are functional as well as decorative. Heavy urns can be used to plant top-heavy plants such as ornamental trees or trees for espalier pruning. Trellises and arbors can provide support to climbing plants such as roses or vines such as potato vine, honeysuckle, morning glories or wisteria. A Japanese garden wouldn't be complete without an arbor or moon gate at the entryway to define the space. Hollow, artificial rocks can be purchased that hide outdoor speakers or cover pool pumps, and garden benches can provide a pleasant place to stop and enjoy the day.
Landscaping accessories do not have to be new, or purchased from a garden store. Items that you find at a flea market, junk store or garage sale can be incorporated into a garden as well. For example, some gardeners have built small ponds in wooden whiskey half-barrels for patios. Others have used old, decorative window frames as trellises for lightweight vine curtains, such as black-eyed-Susan.
When selecting a decorative garden feature, you should consider not just how it looks now, but how it will look in the future. Copper trellises and sculptures will develop a brown or green patina with age, while stone features can grow moss over time.