Saturday, April 3, 2010

Creating a Spooky Garden

As I’m working to finish my graveyard in the corner of my garden, it dawned on me that it’s possible to do a whole yard that’s spooky or a yard that’s simply got a nod to the macabre, making it a fun place to be in the nighttime. Here's some things to consider:

Lighting: Add an outdoor bonfire pit where you can tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows, hang lanterns around the garden to get flickering nighttime light or use solar lights that give off a creepy glow at night, as well as Halloween string lights in the bushes that look like glowing eyes.

Statues: I’m using cemetery-inspired ones of angels, cherubs and a celtic cross, but you could take broken slabs of granite for kitchen counters (you can get them cheap when they’re broken) and planting them into the ground at angles to give a monolithic cemetery feel within the shrubs. A line of life-sized owls along the roof of a shed would be outlined at night into a spooky gathering. Think beyond classic statues too, why not use dolls or mannequins? As well, you can go magical with fairies and little fairy houses made to encourage fairies to live in your garden--made from natural things like twigs and bark and moss or you can go a bit spookier with lots of lawn gnomes in a grouping like soldiers to unsettle...

Aged items:
Reusing old stuff can be a fun way to make a place look overgrown and creepy. My dream item to add to my garden is a seat from a Tilt-A-Whirl carnival ride that’s rusted out and set in a corner with vines growing on it. It tells a story of something abandoned and left behind with plants growing up it. Take an old part of a car, a wheelbarrel, or bicycle and prop it up and encourage vines to eat it up. Weathered wood and driftwood all add to the weathered look, as do rusted items. I adore using rusted metals in the garden. I even found a length of heavy duty barbed wire near a cattle watering hole that I will utilize in a way that won’t create painful encounters but will give a “stay back” feel. Think chipped paint, grown over, crumbling…

Go Local themed: Since I’m in the Southwest, I might consider doing an open-sided shed-looking rickety structure to put chairs under to stay in the shade, put hooks on the walls with mining lanterns, perhaps a fake turkey buzzard atop of it, and have a mine entrance looking structure. If you live in the east, you might consider something like the photo above photo—bunches of dried corn stalks, fallen fencing, a scarecrow in a trenchcoat and hat, maybe some gourds and pumpkins or hay bales to sit upon for a country autumn feel. If you live in the Northwest, you might consider bumpy stone boulders and encourage moss and lichens to grow on them, creating a kind of haunting Stonehenge feel. If you’re in the South, consider bayous and dripping moss, voodoo and even a nod to the Civil War with a cannon and a stack of cannonballs.

Looking for inspiration? Here’s my favorite blogs to get me hyped up about spooky gardening: The Haunted Gardens
and Octoberfarm.


  1. This looks like a fun project. Spooktacular!

  2. I wish I could turn our yard in to a spooky garden. It's being dug up anyways.

  3. Thanks, ya'all.
    You know, Andrea, you can do a little nod to some favorite horror movie, or spooky place. I wish I had more yard--I'd add a labyrinth and a bunch of huge monolithic boulders in an altar formation. Go totally Celtic spookiness.

  4. As soon as I know whether or not we are keeping our house, I would love to do a garden. I like your ideas and the ones in the photos.

  5. Julie;
    The places we'll be going, we can probably find some pretty creepy things to decorate the yard with!

  6. This sounds like fun. Please post pictures of your garden when you are done. It sounds awesome. I would love to do something like that, but our diabolical HOA would probably burn it down.

  7. Jessica;
    We have a nazi HOA here. We're in the foothills--the "fancy" part of town and they pick on us if so much as one palm frond tilts. But, in the backyard-what they don't know won't hurt the bastards. hee hee

  8. Thanx for the link to Haunted Gardens! :0) And glad you enjoy our corner(s) of the Gardening World.

    Great post about creating your own Spooky Setting in the Garden.

    Can't wait to see your Ghastly Garden of Ghoulish Goodies!

  9. Spooky Tips! You know I love me a Haunted Garden! :) Thanks for including our link!