Landscaping With "Animals"
Animal statues are a hassle-free way to enjoy animals in your backyard.
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The problem with real animals in the home landscape is that they don't always cooperate. Dogs dig and do other things in the wrong places. Toads only come out at night. And those bunnies that look so cute when they're sniffing the air at the edge of your lawn are never around when you'd like to show them to your grandchildren.
- At Design Works, the display yard is loaded with various animals you never need to feed. This concrete buck costs $388. (SHNS photo by Diana Baldrica / The Fresno Bee)
- At Design Works, the display yard is loaded with various animals you never need to feed. This concrete dog costs $96. (SHNS photo by Diana Baldrica / The Fresno Bee)
- At Design Works, the display yard is loaded with various animals you never need to feed. They sell toads in various sizes ranging from $7 to $35. (SHNS photo by Diana Baldrica / The Fresno Bee)
Fortunately, there's a no-hassle way to enjoy animals in the back yard without going on safari to find them: Simply create the illusion of their presence with some well-placed concrete or resin animal statues.
Homeowners can select from a variety of bird and animal landscape ornaments at specialty retailers and garden shops.
"They're all made for outside," says Elaine Ellsworth of Design Works in Fresno, Calif., describing the array of animal statues available for residential landscape use. "The colors will age over time, but that's part of their charm."
The concrete animals at Design Works are made in California, she says. Most of the resin ones are imported from China. All are formed in molds and then hand-painted, except for those made from dyed concrete.
"Animals aren't a big segment of our business, but they are a steady part," says Paul Ramirez of Ed's Self Haul in Fresno, which sells landscape materials and makes concrete statuary, including dozens of mammals, reptiles and birds.
People use the animals to add a personal touch to their home landscapes, he says. Hunters tend to prefer deer, for example, while others are fascinated by gargoyles.
Ramirez says people have firm ideas about what they want in their yards, whether it's pigs, turtles or something else.
A lot of people collect one kind of animal they like, Ellsworth says.
Unless you have your heart set on Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, you won't have trouble finding critters you like. Dogs, frogs, toads, turtles and bunnies are everywhere. So are barnyard animals, raccoons, bears and squirrels.
Even poor brutes who find it hard to be cute -- we're talking hippos, rhinos, beavers, pelicans and the like -- are represented in this captivating ornamental zoo.
Many animals have been crafted with such detail that they almost look real. Others are as whimsical as Disney cartoons. You can find dogs holding lanterns in their mouths and toads as fat as basketballs, fawns sleeping blissfully and puppies poised to play fetch.
Prices start at under $10 for small rodents, such as chipmunks, and can range up to $600 or more for larger animals.
Some of the gentlest, most endearing creatures are made of clay in Hudson's Earth Arts Studio in Fresno. Here, you will find bears that smile, and lions and lambs that lie down together.
"Our most popular outdoor animals are bears and quail," says Bok Hee Ee, the studio's production supervisor.
Although ornamental animals require no protection from the elements, homeowners should use care when placing them in their yards, Fresno landscape architect Robert Boro says.
"They need to look like they belong," Boro says. "If you place them in the wrong spot, it will look awkward."
Ornamental statues, particularly whimsical animals, can steal the show if you're not careful. To prove the point, we offer two pungent words: pink flamingos.
When it comes to animal statues, he says, choose items you like, but use them judiciously. Make sure they are in scale with surrounding plant material. Treat them as accessories that can be moved in and out of the landscape as needed.
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