Derek’s Favourite Garden Accessories and Necessities

It’s nearly impossible to visit a garden centre for planting material without peeking at their garden accessories.  For the most part, these items are nice-to-have accessories rather than must-have necessities.  But, sometimes one can craftily motivate why an accessory should become a necessity.  This also often helps justify the cost! 

Here is an alphabetical list of some of my favourite “necess-ories”, some of which I enjoyed re-discovering during a recent visit to Golden Acre Garden Centre and Spruce-it-up Garden Centre in Calgary.  While I do own many versions of the items on the list, many still remain on my wish list for a day when finances or space can justify buying them. 

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  • Bark mulch: for decorating, colour enhancement, water conservation and plant protection
  • Bird bath: make your yard inviting for feathered friends
  • Bird feeder: make your yard inviting for feathered friends
  • Bird / butterfly / bat / bee houses: attract those pollinators and bug guzzlers (bats) into your yard and enhance the rich wildlife
  • Bistro set: sit and enjoy the work of your yard’s hard labour in a remote part of your green space
  • Blankets: extend your outdoor enjoyment on those cooler mornings and evenings
  • Composter: find every reason and opportunity to recycle your household vegetable waste and transform it into your own rich compost
  • Cushions: introduce a pop of colour or cool themes to your outdoor living
  • Deck heater: extend your outdoor enjoyment on those cooler mornings and evenings
  • Deck storage solutions: if, unlike me, you’ve not been able to engineer in some under-deck storage you may find the solution offered by some sealable storage very handy
  • Edging: keep the flowers in and the grass out of your beds with some effective and decorative edging solutions
  • Fencing (critter-control): for the smaller critters, some of the inexpensive, unobtrusive, low-level fencing have been very effective to keep the rabbits and skunks out of my beds
  • Fire pit / chimenea with grating to stop flying sparks and mitigate fire risks: consult your local bylaws to confirm what the requirements are in your area for outdoor fires
  • Fire table: an entertaining luxury and a real conversation piece that can facilitate extending your outdoor living late into the evening, well after sundown
  • Flower pot tray: if you buy a flower pot, try to remember to buy a suitable drain saucer so you can minimize stains to your patio or outdoor surface
  • Hammock: treat yourself to a well-positioned and supported spot to hang out in your yard
  • Hanging flower planter: these showy displays deserve to be put on parade properly, so don’t forget to include shepherds hooks or decorative (but sturdy) wall brackets for your weighty baskets
  • Garden hose: consider investing in a good no-kink, easy-to-roll and store hose
  • Garden hose reel: finding a wall-mounted or mobile hose reel is always a handy addition to your yard for easy access, use and storage of your hose
  • Garden hose sprayer: buying a versatile, multi-spray configuration nozzle is a significant benefit so you can easily switch from a rain shower format for gentle dousing of beds to a jet for cleaning out your bird bath or deck with multiple other settings in between
  • Gazebo: if space and location allow, a sturdy gazebo with the options of drop-down bug screens would be a transforming feature for any yard, over a hot tub or over your patio dining table
  • Gazing balls: introduce a pop of elegant colour and refractory beauty to your pathway or flower bed with a decorative gazing ball, whether colourful ceramic or mosaic glass
  • Lanterns: whether vintage or elegant, a classic lantern with a scented or even citronella candle is a thoughtful and enjoyable feature to an outdoor evening occasion
  • Lounging / reclining chair: although these may need to be stored away they are a welcome feature to be able to haul onto the patio at short notice to soak in some sunlight while reading a book
  • Mulch ring: for neater tree bases and control minor sucker growth
  • Ornaments & decor: some may say they’re tacky, other may feel they introduce intrigue and charm, but a well-chosen ornament or sculpture in the right location introduces a thoughtful richness to your yard
  • Plant caddies: castor base to easily reposition heavy planters
  • Plant hook bracket: sturdy, decorative brackets for hanging planters in the right location are a great “necess-ory”.  I use mine for hanging planters in the summer and hot tub towels in the winter
  • Plant ring support (peony, bleeding hearts, delphiniums, tomatoes, etc.): a necessity for those rangy, heavy-topped perennials to keep them from collapsing to the ground and becoming tatty
  • Planter pots: a few select ceramic or plastic colourful planter pots are a great addition to your yard or deck.  Be careful to winterize your ceramic pots properly at the end of the growing season to minimise cracking in freezing winter climates
  • Pot feet: elevate your planters and pot saucers off your decking to minimize debris and stains beneath your planter
  • Rain barrel: harvest that wasted roof run-off water for reuse in your pots and planters
  • Rain chain: a net accessory to your home, replacing a traditional gutter downspout with a cool accessory
  • Rain gauge: keep track of your local precipitation levels, if this is something that interests you
  • Shepherds hooks: strategically placed in your yard these can offer a great way to introduce hanging baskets or ornaments to unlikely locations on your lawn or in flower beds
  • Solar lights: create some ambiance, light up a pathway accentuate a feature in your yard with some inexpensive solar powered lights
  • Sprinkler: invest in a sturdy, adjustable sprinkler for watering your lawn or flower beds, bearing in mind that lawns may require different watering regimes to your flower beds
  • String lights: set the mood on the patio with some great lighting solutions
  • Suet cage: make your yard inviting for feathered friends
  • Outdoor patio dining set: invest in a robust, low-maintenance dining table and comfortable chairs that can weather well and / or be easily stored in the off-season
  • Trellis: both decorative and functional, a sturdy trellis can be both a feature and a helpful tool
  • Umbrella: it’s worthwhile investing in an easy-to-use, easy-to-store wide-covering umbrella with a sturdy base.  If a gazebo isn’t on your list, then a good umbrella probably should be.  Do your research before forking out on this “necess-ory”. Also, ensure that you get a very sturdy base, if it’s not included with your purchase.
  • Wasp traps: although sometimes unsightly, decorative traps can be hung around outdoor living areas to deter or catch these annoying intruders
  • Water feature: these can be a significant expense and luxury, but there are creative solutions that you can implement in your yard that will become enviable features to any visitor.  Be mindful of where you position your feature in order to minimize excessive and regular cleaning, e.g. don’t position it beneath a tree that is constantly losing leaves or in a flower bed that may introduce garden soil into the feature, silting it up over time
  • Watering can: a decent capacity can is a must for being able to access those remote patio planters without having to unreel the hose
  • Watering timer: make your life easier by installing a timer that will automatically start / shot off your sprinkler after a period of time.  This is a significant convenience feature and will save you unnecessary water- and time-wasting
  • Wind chimes: while we love the idea of ornamental chimes which can be calming, be considerate to your neighbours who might have a different opinion, so choose and position your chimes wisely

Enjoy accessorizing your yard and creating features that you and your guests can enjoy throughout the season.

For the winter season, you can review my hot tub accessory and care suggestions here.

A selection of accessories in our front yard: ground cover spills from ceramic pots;
inexpensive ceramic mushrooms reflect our love for pottery;
solar lights create a pleasant display to the adjacent pathway and flower beds from sundown;
a driftwood stump that I hauled off the beach in Whiterock, BC is home to our butterfly house;
inexpensive fencing deters critters during the growing season in early spring and is removed later in the season
A large ceramic pot sunken into the ground acts as our fish pond during the warmer months;
a fountain kit will be inserted into the pot as the weather warms, helping circulate the water while providing a soothing sound of trickling water;
solar powered lamps and bull rushed create some interest around the pond;
a rustic barnwood bench from our friends at Capital Renovations provides us with a pleasant place to pause and enjoy the front yard;
temporary and inexpensive fencing helps keep the plant-eating critters at bay while the plants establish themselves early in the season;
Montana river rock forms the dry river bed that snakes through the front yard
Although far from manicured, the signs of spring that are bringing life to the front yard are slowly beginning to the dull patches of mulch and exposed soil;
the thyme ground cover is greening up and filling in between the pathway paving stones;
the cherry tree is about to burst into bloom;
a few recently-planted annuals are already providing some life and colour to the sidewalk while the simple, inexpensive critter fencing protects the emerging perennials from neighbourhood rabbits and stray skunk
Our rain chain empties into a large ceramic urn that is a feature on our front deck
This random glass ball forms a feature in a front yard flower bed, positioned over a stepping stone that Christa created many years back
This glass mosaic gazing ball is home to fairy lights that automatically light up at dusk and create some interest on our back deck alongside a wooden barrel and a pair of guinea fowl metal art pieces from Africa
Some of our back yard accessories – which remain out all winter – include
the bird bath that receives a fresh supply of water from a dripper connected to the in-ground irrigation system;
the circular mosaic-mirror bird feeder creates dancing reflections around the yard;
the oval birdhouse that has been home to wrens over the years;
the bendable edging helps keep the lawn out of the flower bed;
the Inukshuk-attempt near the base of the bird bath was something I created from local river rock;
the concrete mushrooms were decorated by Christa and are fun fill-ins
The irrigation controller is basic unit but a massive help to keeping different parts of our garden properly watered on an automated pre-programmed cycle
Our metal-framed hose reel can be easily detached from the wall and relocated to the front yard when necessary;
a single-outlet controller controls the side yard in-ground sprinkler system;
quick-connect Gardena fittings make connecting and disconnecting of the mobile hose quick and easy;
the spray nozzle (lying loose inside the succulent box) can be easily adjusted to provide different spray patterns with a simple twist of the spray head
Additional deck accessories (that still need to be shifted into position for the season) include a cantilever umbrella (far left), a patio heater, wooden adirondack chairs, a composite sealable storage container, and a ceramic blue chicken.
A wind anemometer mounted on top of the privacy fence feeds weather information back to the Acurite weather base station inside the house;
outdoor incandescent string lights draped across the privacy fence and strung throughout the deck area create a festive, inviting evening atmosphere
Decorative yet robust brackets facilitate hanging planters, lights and other ornaments, even hot tub towels during the winter
Although not the prettiest picture, this illustrates the positioning of brackets for flower planters that double up as towel hangers at the hot tub in winter;
the bird feeder is a huge drawcard during the lean food months for the local birds;
the outdoor string lights provide a cosy touch to the outdoor evenings in all seasons

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