As we near the end of our 12-part series on designing a large country garden, we explore the use of decorative elements in the garden


Decorative or ornamental elements can add a final flourish to a large country garden.  Whether they are used to define a view or to mark out a journey around a garden, their stable, sculptural forms provide a wonderful juxtaposition to the living landscapes that they sit within and a permanent feature throughout the seasons.

Ornament can take many forms from classic architectural stonework such as fountains, plinths and statues, to quintessential garden staples such as benches, gates and urns.

When creating a garden masterplan, we will often consider decorative elements from the outset. Ornamental objects, especially items such as benches or gates, are all part of the decision-making process and it quickly becomes apparent, as you design a garden, where certain pieces need to be sited.


While there are no rules for placing decorative elements in the garden, it is important to consider the dimensions of the piece and its relationship to the garden setting.  You need to ensure you achieve a sense of balance and proportion to avoid the ornament being overbearing, or to prevent a large scale piece getting lost in the landscape. For instance, a formal parterre, which can be quite an intimate space, might require a smaller scale centre piece, while an abstract sculpture may work well in an elevated position set against a natural backdrop.

Well-placed ornament will bring a focal point or an eye-catching element to the garden that draws your eye in a particular direction and tempts you to walk towards it. A formal avenue of symmetrical trees, for instance, catches your attention and leads you down the path to your final destination, while other objects might be displayed to be admired in the borders as you journey through the garden.

We often place ornament or sculpture so that it can be viewed from the house. However, you may find the countryside surrounding the garden is all you need, and in this instance, a painted or decorative gate could be positioned to lead you out into the landscape.


Choosing decorative pieces is a very personal decision and one that we make with our clients over time. While some clients prefer decorative elements that are in keeping with the style and architectural detailing of the house, others may take a more playful approach.

Modern sculptural pieces can be just as intriguing as traditional stone sculpture and, like a classical statue, they can add an element of humour or fun to the garden.

The beauty of using reclaimed ornaments is that they can anchor a new garden and make it feel settled and established. By incorporating a collection of carefully chosen antique objects, that might have a particular weathered feel, you can give the impression that the garden was created when the house was first built.


Pots and planters are essential elements in any garden and can often be an attractive statement piece in their own right. They are ideal for breaking up large expanses of hard landscaping and adding dimension to the design. If you incorporate small trees in the planting arrangement, they can also add height to a terrace. Pots can be very useful for softening the architectural features of a house and giving a visual impression of more planting, which is particularly beneficial in a courtyard setting.

Pots are also very flexible as they can be moved around and replanted to add seasonal interest and colour to the garden. Depending on the style, they can also add a sense of formality, particularly if planted with evergreens for year-round interest.

This post was written by Richard Taylor, Director of Taylor Tripp.

Look out for our journal posts on large garden design covering:

Driveways and Entrances
Views & Borrowed Landscapes
Garden Structure
Designing with Water
Kitchen Gardens
Garden Buildings
Sporting Areas
Wildflower Meadows
Designing with Trees
Gates & Archways