Cheeky garden gnome ideas for a whimsical backyard design

Whether you consider them garden guardians, sneaky spirits or tacky tchotchkes, the garden gnome has come a long way from its early days in 19th century Germany. Today, you can find female gnomes, inappropriate gnomes and sophisticated gnomes alongside the brightly painted classic we all recognize from the 1960s. As all things midcentury modern come back in fashion, we asked ourselves, “how about the garden gnome?” Here are some garden gnome ideas to add a dash of whimsy to your backyard (or front yard) design.

This gnome has room to roam. The woodland setting is perfect for this earth spirit, and the rustic aluminum kettle is a cute way to give the gnome more visual presence in the space while telling a story. The style of gnome and the use of the kettle make this vignette fun without being silly.

Hide and gnome seek. Tucking gnomes behind plants adds surprise to a backyard design, and they can easily be moved as plants grow and the seasons change, altering the story told by the placement and interaction between gnomes. In this way, gnomes are an inexpensive way to keep your lawn and garden design fresh.

Plant a gnome. Pop a gnome in a pot where cuttings are taking root or after the blooms have faded, to keep things interesting. The intimacy of planters and pots are great for small statuary because they don’t get lost in the space. Because of their scale, gnomes are excellent options for small garden design.

Do gnome disturb. Rather than being plopped in the landscape without any forethought, this gnome has been carefully positioned to suit its pose and tell a story. Tucked into the corner by a garden gate or shed door, a gnome (especially one as cute as this one) becomes a smile-making discovery for those entering or leaving the space.

Gnome rest for the wicked. You can create the feeling of a garden gnome without going for the textbook version. This reclining sculpture has been placed on a garden bench, creating a sweet vignette with grasses, hydrangeas and other plants. Whether he’s an elf, gnome or leprechaun, his message is clear to all those who come to this garden: relax, close your eyes, and enjoy the fruits of your labours.

Creativity gnomes no bounds. This large sculpture proves a gnome can be art.  Far from the red-hatted traditional gnome sculpture, this living giant gnome is a focal point in the landscape that expresses the gardener’s creativity and skill.

Gnome attack! Some people think gnomes are cute. Some people find them unsettling. This garden “installation” plays off this sometimes-sweet-sometimes-sinister tension. Are these gnomes playing? Or are they coming for you? Gnome-ly time will tell.

Gnome-man’s land. Dedicate a planter of succulents and small flowers to a gnome and his or her home and you’ll create a portable and ephemeral conversation piece for your yard. A project like this is perfect for younger children and is a great way to create a backyard design both kids and adults will love.

Gnome-one’s home. If you like the idea of gnomes but don’t want to incorporate actual gnomes into your backyard design, you can imply their presence with this treehouse technique. Leaving gnomes up to the imagination inspires curiosity and creates a sense of mystery in your garden. And let’s face it—some people prefer the idea of gnomes over the real thing!

If you’re ready to take your yard from blah to bliss, we’d love to help!

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