Gardening with John Gabriele

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Contemporary gardens often utilise interesting and popular materials to create architectural design solutions to provide a unique characteristic that makes them stand out form the crowd. Plant containers play a significant role in many commercial and residential gardens and in recent times the use of Corten steel containers has risen in popularity in achieving a modern design element.

Corten steel is a high durability product that has an oxide layer or patina that forms on the surface giving the classic rust appearance. They say that rust never sleeps but with Corten the oxide layer stops the corrosion process. The result over time as the steel is exposed to the elements is a uniquely beautiful product displaying a range of velvety bronze shades to a rich brown.

One of the most popular uses for Corten steel in the garden is in containers or planter boxes that provide a garden focal point, deck, or patio accent. Corten planter boxes and containers are available in a range of sizes and shapes from cubes, rectangles, cylinders and other geometric forms to suit a variety of situations and in various gauges or thicknesses with 3mm containers being the most popular for planting situations.

There are products that have insulated Styrofoam sides ideal for plant installations, but liners are not usually necessary for Corten containers. Corten is a great substitute for other traditional materials used in planter boxes such as concrete and terracotta and the appearance of Corten in a garden is complimentary to other landscape elements, particularly plantings.

The ageless appearance of Corten can also be applied to a range of other garden elements including laser cut screen panels that can be customised in a multitude of profiles. Sculptural elements can also be fashioned form Corten, forged into different shapes and sizes. Even garden edging can be constructed form Corten to provide a rustic element to the garden, pardon the pun.

The appearance of Corten elements can also be changed with an application of oil although this may be required on an annual basis to maintain the desired effect. One drawback with Corten is that it will leach and can stain surfaces, so it is recommended to use a base for planters. A sealant such as a clear urethane can be applied to the surface of Corten planters and screens.

This story Corten steel gives that rusty look - without the corrosion first appeared on The Canberra Times.