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The difference between magical and junky lies in the subtleties of placement and execution. You can use anything to decorate your yard, you simply have to be careful about how and where you place those items. The same rules apply outside as when decorating inside your home with vintage items. For instance, if you are going to hang something on the fence, make sure it is level, just like on a wall at home.
Statues are great additions to any garden. Anything over-sized and three-dimensional works in my book. Gardens feel more enchanted when there are large sculptural pieces semi-hidden or in plain view. Everything in the yard does not have to be there for a practical purpose. For example, even though making planter boxes out of old toilets, bathtubs, and washtubs give the garden a vintage look and feel, it is a bit of a cliche. Not everything introduced into your yard has to be turned into a planter box. But, every piece brought into your yard, large or small, must be level and placed thoughtfully as to not encumber sitting or walking.
Seating is important, since you actually want to hang out in your own back yard. Rustic metal chairs, wooden tables and benches, and a porch swing are obvious choices and easy to find at garage sales, flea markets, and antique fairs.
Fountains and water features are pieces that at once convey serenity and life. But, whereas one fountain might not be enough, too many fountains of all different sizes will convey chaos. Bird feeders and birdbaths will invite birds, butterflies, cats and who knows what else into your yard. They can be lovely, but this is a case where less is more.
If you have small items like colorful old spigot handles, collect more than four and group them together on a fence or wall. Do not simply scatter them around, they will get lost in the foliage or look like strewn garbage. The trick to creating a magical garden when accessorizing is to give each item or group its own space.
Items for accessorizing could be pretty much anything you like. Even in poor shape, items like old toy tin cars and trucks, metal baskets, plant stands, radiator parts, bird cages, doll carriages, or old plant hangers can make interesting additions. Some can be used as planter boxes, (if you must!), and some can just be decorative, as long as they are not simply thrown in willy-nilly and are level.
I hope that if there is one seed I have planted, it is this: Level equals purposeful, which creates a magical effect. Crooked equals accidental, which creates a junky look and feel. Now, just add water and watch the luscious, enchanted secret garden of our dreams grow!
Lynnore Goldfarb is an author, designer and former vintage store owner. She currently designs interiors, stage houses for sale and writes for art and vintage decor magazines and websites. You can follow her on her blog at www.lynnoreg.blogspot.com.