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September 17, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, September 17, 2004

Back-yard accessorizing Back-yard accessorizing (September 17, 2004)

We live outdoors, so why not decorate outdoors?

By Kit Davey

Puttering in your yard, having a barbecue and dozing in your hammock -- ahh, the joys of outdoor living in the Bay Area! Since we use our yards as if they were an extension of our interior living space, why not do a little creative outdoor decorating?

A recent stroll through my yard revealed several easy-to-implement accessorizing ideas you might use in your own little wilderness:

** Use an old ladder as a plant stand. Lean a ladder against the side of your house or the 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 kitchen cabinets for other waterproof treasures, such as masks, metal sculpture pieces, teapots, etc., which 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 bird bath. 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 affect. 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 horse shoes, 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 flower beds. 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, (800) 922-9463,

Smith & Hawken, (800) 776-3336,

Horchow Garden, (800) 456-7000,

Jackson & Perkins, (800) 292-4769,

Crate & Barrel, (800) 323-5461,

Gardener's Eden, (800) 822-9600,

Plow & Hearth, (800) 627-1712,

Kinsman Company, (800) 733-4146,

Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, is a Redwood City-based interior designer who redecorates by rearranging what you already have. E-mail her at [email protected], call her at 367-7370, visit her Web site at

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