Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Landscaping Art

Placing and caring for outdoor art

celtic archWe're embellishing the outdoors more than ever with art and architectural pieces just like we have done indoors. Where we relax, eat and entertain is where we want to see the objects we enjoy and it makes sense we're decorating outdoor spaces with more than plants.

How these works of art come into our gardens varies. Some gardens are created to showcase a treasured statue. Sometimes a property owner commissions an artist to create a piece that will complement a special outdoor space. Other times, artifacts, reproductions and architectural objects from around the world or even the local flea market just catch our fancy and end up outdoors. Someone else's junk becomes our treasured find.

Whatever the art form, when it goes outdoors, it needs to resist and endure the ravages of the Colorado climate. It can't blow over in the wind or be ruined by rain and snow. Ideally, it should look good during all four seasons.

Placement requires forethought. Sometimes objects can be outdoors as long as they are somewhat protected from the elements and that requires thinking ahead about placement and protection. If water will harm the object, make sure it's out of the line of fire of the sprinkler system as well as the weather.

Will the proposed placement be disruptive to ongoing maintenance activities? For example, if the object is in the middle of the lawn, how will you mow around it?

Finally, know the composition of the piece and if has specific care needs. Here are some tips:

  • Place art and other interesting pieces where they will not be overgrown by plants as they mature.
  • For long-term life, select pieces that are weather-resistant and need little maintenance. Bronze and marble, for example, are very durable and only need occasional cleaning or polishing.
  • Wooden art may need a hardy paint or finish to give it a long life outdoors. It may also need to live in a protected location.
  • Anticipate how the piece may change over time. Steel is typically left to rust; copper is allowed to develop an aged patina.
  • Some art is made of materials that are intended to go back to nature. Many sustainable pieces made of wood and twigs are designed to disintegrate over time as they are used for nesting and habitat. Enjoy them for what they do and as long as they last.
  • Consider using repurposed items, especially items already used outdoors for other functions. Metal gates, antique farm implements and architectural artifacts from old buildings all qualify. They easily repurpose as unusual and long-lasting art.
Pay attention to the sprinkler system. No matter what the material, water should never be aimed directly at artwork or other artifacts.