Bring life to your garden with salvage and antiques

Six top tips for finding and buying salvage and stonework

We're all guilty of tending to our homes more than our gardens but with summer days stretching out into balmy evenings, now is the time to stamp some style on your plot. The best to add some individual flair? Hunt out unusual pieces of salvage and and reclaimed stonework.

Cinead McTernan presents six ways to do it:

  1. Know where to look
    Reclamation yards and decorative antiques shops – even skips, for that matter – yield old pieces of beautifully weathered or aged garden furniture, statuary, gates, terracotta pots, plant supporters and unusual objects, which can accentuate an existing theme or bring character to a specific area in your plot.
  1. Take your time
    Hunting for such items can take more time than buying new, but it's well worth the effort. Not only will you save money and find unique pieces that will make your garden an expression of your style – you’re also helping the environment, by reusing and upcycling.
  1. Choose pieces carefully
    Giselle McCarthy, senior buyer at Petersham Nurseries, recommends taking time when choosing each piece. 'We’re always looking for genuine character, authentic patination and beautiful form when we’re sourcing architectural salvage, whether it's a petite stone goose or a life-size 19th-century statue.'
  1. Get creative
    While an old carved stone plaque is a thing of beauty in its own right, it can easily be converted into a wall fountain by drilling some holes into it. Tom Hart from LASSCO Three Pigeons also suggests cast-iron boilers as fountain centrepieces, old iron gates as trellises or panels used as screens.

  1. Consider placement
    Once bought, take a look at the garden and think carefully about placement. Giselle McCarthy suggests considering the existing textures and tones of the setting to see what will blend in. Enjoy it – play with scale as well as expectations.
  1. Make a focus
    Alternatively, use salvaged pieces as a focal point. Tom Hart explains: 'Rustic doors, for example, can be used purely decoratively to add interest to high garden walls. Garden fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular, with stone chimney pieces evoking a baronial feel to evenings spent outside around the fire.'



  • Beeston Reclamation, Whitchurch Road, Beeston, Cheshire, CW6 9NJ. 01829 260299;
  • The Cotswold Reclamation Co, Unit 2, Sandy Lane Court, Little Rissington, Glos, GL54 2NF. 01451 820292;
  • English Salvage, North Road, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0AB. 01568 616205;
  • Insitu Architectural Salvage, 252 Chester Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 4EX. 0161 839 5525;          
  • LASSCO Three Pigeons, London Road, Milton Common, Oxfordshire, OX9 2JN. 01844 277188;          
  • Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7AB. 020 8940 5230;

Keen to learn more, find out what Drew Pritchard's must find garden antiques are here.

Images: Stephanie Wolff/Petersham Nurseries; LASSCO 
Compiled by: Catherine Muxworthy

If you've been inspired by this article, why not have a look at the range of garden implements available from the Gardens Illustrated online shop? Homes & Antiques readers get 10 per cent off with the code HA10OFF. Click here to have a dig about the stock

10 things you (probably) didn't know about rattan and wickerwork
previous feature article
My favourite antique: Tracy Borman
next feature article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here