Garden Statuary Care

Keep your statues beautiful

You've just gone out and bought some statues for your yard - now how do you keep them looking their best? While some weathering can make your statues even more beautiful, you don't want them to weather to the point of crumbling or rusting unattractively.

Extreme hot and cold weather can be very hard on stone, and if you're going to pay quite a bit of money for a statue, you're going to want to protect it for as long as you can. Bronze statuary normally needs very little cleaning and protection, but it's important to make sure that the statue is properly sealed against the weather.

If you live in a high-precipitation area, you should seal your stone statue with water sealer. This should be done in the fall and applies especially to items that hold water, like bird baths and fountains. You should buy water sealant that is made for concrete or masonry from any local hardware store. Seal your statue like this:

  • Choose a warm, dry day in the fall to thoroughly wash and dry your piece of statuary.
  • Apply the sealant thoroughly with a brush, soft sponge or spray bottle. Be careful not to rub too hard.
  • Let the piece dry. If it's a bird bath or fountain, refill it with water.

Bird baths and fountains benefit from sealing once a year. Other items, like benches, tabletops and statuary can be sealed every other year.

When you buy bronze statuary, it comes with an initial coating of wax on it to protect it from the elements. After about three months, the wax wears off, leaving the piece exposed to the weather. This really won't make a difference to the statue, but if you're concerned with keeping your statue looking as new as possible, then follow these steps:

  • Wash down your statue with a gentle liquid dishwashing soap and water. Only put enough soap into your bucket to create a few bubbles on the top of the water - any more will leave a soap film on the statue. Use a toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach places. Don't scrub - just gently wipe the statue down.
  • Once the statue is washed, rinse it off with a sponge dipped in clear water. If you have a hose, hose the statue down thoroughly.
  • Let the statue dry completely. This will take a few hours - don't apply wax before the statue is completely dry, or you will trap moisture under the wax, which will cause oxidization.
  • Using a plain clear paste wax (normally found in a can for around $5-$10; avoid automotive waxes as they dry white) and a soft rag, rub the wax gently onto the statue. Use an unused paintbrush to get into the nooks and crannies. The wax will dry in about 20 minutes; buff the statue when the wax is dry for a high-gloss shine. Apply a second coat if your statue is an outdoor sculpture.
  • To clean your statue between waxings, use a liquid silicone product like Armor-All to keep the statue shiny and provide another protective layer.

For painted items like lawn ornaments and garden gnomes, it's really best to keep them out of frozen water or snow. Placing them on a railing or paving stone, or better yet, under a covered area like your garage or porch, will protect the statue's paint from running or fading.

To protect your planters, make sure they can drain properly and that moss won't grow over the drainage holes. Do this by propping them up on ½ inch-thick tiles or pot feet to ensure that water is getting out. Preparing your plants for the winter will make them happy, too - use loose dirt that will contract and expand with the temperature in order to protect the plant's roots. For better water drainage, put a few stones into the base of the planter before planting your flora. You'll have something to look forward to when your perennials come back healthy in the springtime.

Draining and covering your fountain and bird baths during the winter will ensure that you won't have a goopy mess to clean out in the springtime. If you live in a moderate climate, you can leave your fountain running through the winter. Some experts suggest that vodka in the water will keep it running smoothly, because vodka lowers the freezing temperature of the water and won't harm any animals that come to drink from the fountain.

Taking care of your garden decor and statuary will ensure that you have the elements of your beautiful garden for years to come. Don't hesitate to ask a garden center specialist for information regarding care of your statuary. The more you know, the more your garden guardians will thank you!

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