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Dressing Up the Yard on a Budget

July 14, 1994|GAILE ROBINSON

Local landscape designers offer the following suggestions to gardeners who want to dabble in ornamentation without making a huge financial commitment.

* Robert Steiner, of the Venice firm Griffith and Steiner, says the broken pieces of statues damaged in the Northridge earthquake can be used to great effect as a back-yard ruin.

He also takes square chunks of recycled concrete and piles them in a tower to support large vases and statuary. Concrete blocks can also be stacked to make supporting columns.

"It's not expensive to cut concrete, and you'd be amazed at the great things you can make with a pedestal and a pot if you elevate it above the bed."

* Mark Rios finds the easiest way to cut corners is on the "hardscaping" (driveways, walkways, terraces).

"Hardscaping is expensive. You can spend anywhere from $4 to $20 a square foot, depending on if it's concrete or some nice stone," he says.

"We do a lot of gravel. It's really cheap. Has a nice crunchy sound. It accepts litter for a nice mottled effect. You can drive on it. It's softer and better for the environment, water goes through it. We've done a lot of gravel gardens."

* Mia Lehrer recommends stone balls and large pots, which offer the scale of sculpture without the price. She also likes to scour resale shops and Sunday flea markets for such affordable garden ornaments as old birdhouses and bird baths.

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