Wide varieties of materials can be used for garden sculptures: from wood to metal, and from plastic to ceramic—and marble, resin, and concrete. Also on that list is stone, including cast stone. Choosing what material is right for you will depend on your budget, how durable you want your statuary to be, and the climate in your area. To help you choose the right outdoor statue for your garden, here’s an overview of some of the commonly used materials.
Plastic and Resin
Plastic statues, in general, cost less than other materials. That said, they typically require moderate weather, year-round, to last a reasonable amount of time. So, if you live somewhere with hot summers or cold winters, you’ll probably need to bring plastic garden sculptures indoors when weather conditions are less ideal; otherwise, they can fade, warp, and perhaps crack.
If you’d like more durable material, look for thick plastic that can endure extreme temperatures. It will cost more than lightweight plastic but should last longer.
Resin is another option. This hard plastic substance is easily molded into a wide range of shapes and can be much more durable than other kinds of plastic; these outdoor statues will likely cost more than less substantial plastic options. They are, however, still subject to fading, warping, and cracking.
Wooden statues can provide an appealing ambiance with price points that can be attractive. They’re usually light and easily transportable from one part of the garden to another. However, you’ll need to spend time and money on their upkeep. This can include putting them on a pedestal; preserving the wood; and replacing them if they fade, crack, or rot as they’re attacked by insects and/or fungi. So, wooden statues may not be as durable as you’d prefer.
Metal outdoor statues can be quite beautiful, sometimes used in more formal gardens. They’re available in aluminum, copper, brass, bronze, stainless steel, and lead. These materials can be so durable that they’re used in large garden statues. The bigger the size, of course (with all other factors being equal), the price will be higher. Some metals, such as copper, develop a patina as they age, which you may or may not like.
Ceramic and Glass
Glass and ceramic statues can be stunning, capturing the sunlight and adding touches of fragile beauty throughout your garden. Glass statues can be solid or hollow. Ceramic, meanwhile, can be porous and non-porous. The porous type will take in and hold water; during freeze and thaw cycles, they will crack. No matter whether you choose glass or ceramic, you’ll need to place them in a protected area and, before the weather gets too cold, bring them indoors.
Crafted from molds, you can find outdoor statues made from concrete in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, whether finished or unfinished. They can be reasonably priced although large garden statues can be quite heavy. You can buy unfinished ones and paint them yourself to save money or get them already finished. They won’t have the fine amount of detail in them as you can get with other materials, and they do best when placed in sunny spots to prevent mold. Concrete statues can also crack when the weather fluctuates between freezing and when the statues will thaw.
Materials can range from limestone to marble, granite, sandstone, and more. Each comes with its own pros, cons, and price points. Overall, natural stone garden sculptures are practical and long-lasting while also being attractive in gardens.
Limestone is a natural material that turns into marble when it’s been under hot temperatures and huge pressure, so they have much in common. For example, you’ll need to avoid using any cleaning products on limestone and marble containing acid. Instead, use mild dishwashing soap and water.
You can use cleaning products with mild acid on sandstone, which means that you can add vinegar to your soap and water. Granite, a rock formed from volcanic lava, isn't susceptible to acid.
Cast stone statues are made from finely ground, refined concrete, typically in a mold; substances such as ground-up glass can be added. As you can see from the outdoor garden statues we offer here at Decker’s, we’ve found this to be an in-demand material. Reasons why include:
- Cast stone statues can be created in a range of sizes, shapes, styles, and colors.
- They are durable and strong, requiring less maintenance. They just need cleaning with mild dishwasher soap.
- This material can be an especially smart choice in locations where winters get cold.
- Given that they’re made well, such as ones by Campania International available at Decker’s Nursery, they’re unlikely to crack.
- They provide good investments in your home and garden.
Because cast stone statues can be heavier than some other materials, especially with large garden statues, you’ll want to consider their placement.
Decorating with Outdoor Statues
In our guide to decorating with outdoor garden sculptures, we offer placement and decorating strategies, which will vary based on your personal taste, the size and shape of your garden, how you’ve laid out beds, and more.
So, consider your favorite style—perhaps from an ancient civilization (ancient Egypt, Rome, or Greece, for example) or contemporary cultures, such as Japan or Mexico. You may be creating a replica of a traditional English garden or one from when you lived elsewhere in the United States. It’s really up to your preferences, the size of your space, and what your climate will facilitate.
Stroll through your garden and imagine where you’d like to place focal points, such as large garden statues, and where a cluster of small statues might add interest. How far away should each be from your flowers and herbs? What would this make your garden look like when someone first enters the space?
The experts at Decker’s Nursery would love to help you design your ideal space, one that will delight those who find respite there. You can stop by our retail garden center during open hours, contact us online, or call us: (631) 261-1148.