Garden Sundials

Fun and functional garden sundials

Garden sundials are just one of many outdoor decor items that combine form and functionality. Whether you use your sundial as a timepiece or not, it's a good idea to know how it works. That way, when your sundial is the hit of your garden party for its looks, you can wow them even more with the science behind it.

How Sundials Work

Accurate sundials are composed of a flat face with a pointer sticking up from the center known as a gnomon (pronounced "nom-on"). At different times of the day, the sun will cast a shadow in different places on the face of the sundial and the shadow which can be used to tell time – similar to the hands on the face of a clock.

Garden Sundial Style

If you're not worried about the functionality of your garden sundial, then that opens up a lot more opportunities for design – but you might be surprised to find even the most elegant and elaborate sundials can still be functional.

Sundial style generally starts with your choice in material. Take a look at the few most common materials:

  • Stone garden sundials. Stone is a subtle material for a sundial, blending right into your garden or yard as any stone tile or garden statue might. It's also one of the most durable materials, standing up to sun and rain with little to no treatment.
  • Brass garden sundials. Brass sundials are more eye-catching and are more likely to be a focal piece in your outdoor decor. They may also require more maintenance, particularly if the brass has been painted.
  • Aluminum garden sundials. Aluminum sundials are one of the more affordable materials, but offer just as much design choice as any other material. Like stone, they're also hold up great in the outdoors.

From there, you can consider more specific design points. Antique sundials, for example, add a touch of history to your outdoor space, but if you want to save money, there are replicas in that style readily available. Common engraved designs in garden sundials include suns, animals, flowers and other natural elements. Roman-inspired designs are also common, such as archers, ruins and Roman numerals.

As one last design thought, why not incorporate your sundial into another piece of patio furniture or decor? Look for a sundial that doubles as a bird bath, or a sundial on a pedestal (mostly decorative of course) which might make for a great side table.

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