Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

With birds chirping cheerfully and the sound of lawn mowers humming in the distance, spring is welcomed by many as a time to get out of the house, breathe fresh air and absorb the sun’s rays.

Men, women and children put on their “grubbies” and head outdoors to weed the garden, wash the car and ride bicycles.

As the weather warms and the days stay lighter longer, Sequimites are paying closer attention to their gardens and lawns. Springtime is, after all, the best time of year to start growing a garden or focusing energy on decorating a lawn, said Jeri Sanford, owner of Over the Fence, a downtown business that sells home and garden products from all over the world.

The most popular lawn and garden art items, in Sanford’s experience, are clay pots, bird baths and fountains. Most people pick one piece and center decorations on it, she said.

Pink flamingos and gnomes are other common sightings, Sanford added, noting that homeowners and renters can be as simple or extravagant as they see fit when it comes to decorating.

“It’s an evolution,” she said about decorating a lawn. “Start small and pretty soon you will get more and more ideas.”

Landscaping can add between 7 percent and

15 percent to a home’s value, according to the American Nursery & Landscape Association. Lawn art is no different, Sanford said. “What it looks like on the outside draws people to the inside,” she encouraged homeowners trying to sell a house.

For others, lawn art is more personal than trying to make a profit.

Fran Aaron, a Sequim resident living on Seventh Avenue, remembers her husband, Marvin, every time she glances out the window. He was in the Navy and wanted to bring back old memories by decorating the yard with old boats, buoys and a lighthouse. After he died three years ago, Aaron said she couldn’t bear to take down the decorations.

Some people might even recognize one of the small boats as a prop from the 2008 Sequim Irrigation Festival pageant. Aaron said pageant coordinator Amanda Bacon was driving by the house, saw the boat and thought it would be perfect for the event’s “Discover the Treasure of Sequim” sailing theme, so she stopped and asked to borrow it. Aaron said, “yes.”

Another boat in the yard is on its third motor. Passersby have seen the boat and stopped to ask if they could trade motors. The motor on the boat is too big for the vessel’s size, Aaron said, so she’s hoping a fourth sailor will bring her a smaller motor.

The owner of a house on the corner of Priest and Hendrickson roads in Sequim with ample lawn decorations described the hobby in two simple words: “It’s fun,” she said.

Selecting proper garden statues and themes shouldn’t be taken lightly, Sanford said. Garden art is seen and enjoyed by not only people living at a residence, but those passing by.

Metal art is one way to decorate and it comes in a variety of forms — address markers, personalized signs, lamp holders, garden banner posts and creative cutouts.

Several types of statues exist — metal, concrete and copper are three of the most common. Copper is popular because it becomes more beautiful with age and weathering, Sanford noted, but certain types of clay are hardy and will withstand the test of time, too.

Another use of yard or garden art is to draw attention to a particular spot. For example, if a person wants a section of wildflowers to receive special attention, he or she can place an eye-catching statue or discarded and restored farm implement amid the flowers.

Sometimes there is more of a story behind a statue than eye appeal, Sanford reminded. Garden statues can be used as a memorial for a loved one or lost pets.

Items from the spring cleaning “throw-away” list can be perfect for the yard, according to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Flower gardens can become new homes for old, neglected items and would-be junk can become yard art, the university states online.

A rusty wheelbarrow or wooden chest can be used as a planter and a brass headboard from an old bedroom can be used as an attractive indication of a flower bed.

China plates can be hand painted and used as markers to identify plants or welcome guests as they approach the house. But make sure to use waterproof paint.

“Think about the theme or message you want your yard to portray and then start slow,” Sanford said. “Decorating your yard is not something you do overnight. It takes time.”

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