10 Inspiring Corten steel garden ideas

Corten Steel Planter
Corten steel seemingly came out of nowhere and is appearing regularly in architecture, gardens and commercial installations across the country.

A combination of its unique look and its inherent robust properties make it an ideal material for a huge range of uses. From Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North to almost every RHS garden show in recent times, you’ll see Corten steel in more places than you might think. The name comes from Cor – meaning the corrosion resistance of the material and ten – the metal’s tensile strength.

That’s while you’ll see Corten sometimes written as Cor-ten steel. It’s also known as weathered steel as that’s exactly what it is.

Weathered steel

Corten steel has a thin layer on the outside that oxidises, or rusts. It gives the steel its signature looks but also protects the steel within from further corrosion.

While it may look rusty, that layer is exceptionally thin but dense enough to fully protect the steel underneath.

So that’s the what and how, now let’s cover the what.

10 popular uses for Corten steel in the garden

Corten steel planters

Corten steel planters provide interest as well as a practical container for planting. The industrial look contrasts with the natural appearance of plants which creates a lovely look in the right situation.

Corten steel planters come in all shapes and sizes, so can fit into almost any garden scheme you can think of.

Corten steel walls

Whether you use the wall as a screen, divider or retaining wall, Corten steel provides a great look with minimum effort in any garden.

Steel is inherently flexible when handled correctly, so you can create a Corten steel wall of any height, length, shape or use. You can include holes for visibility, add fixings for baskets or just leave it plain.

Corten steel water bowl

A Corten steel water bowl is a simple way to add water to a garden without building a pond. Whether used as a reflective pool or mini fish pond, a Corten steel water bowl can be made to suit any garden.

Available in a range of shapes, sizes and configurations, water bowls make a design statement while providing all the qualities we like from a water feature.

Corten steel borders

Corten steel borders can be used as lawn edging, bordering raised beds or separating areas of a garden in a decorative way. Again, the flexibility of steel works to its advantage here, as it can be cut and shaped into almost any configuration.

Corten steel borders can be subtle and lawn level or make more of a statement with taller or more architectural pieces.

Corten steel gates and screens

Corten steel can come in sheets that can be cut to size and even include designs cut within the sheet itself. This means you can use Corten steel for gates, screens and other decorations with holes for handles, to see through or to let light through.

We often see Corten steel gates in gardens as it’s a strong material designed to protect the property and resist the rigours of modern life.

Corten steel storage

Corten steel storage can be in the form of frames for firewood or a steel garden chest to store tools. They can be used every day or purely architectural, it’s entirely up to you.

Storage frames can be horizontal or vertical while chests can be any size you like. It’s steel, so it can be turned into almost anything!

Corten steel water features

Corten steel water features are also common. Whether it’s a rain curtain, sculptural installation or simply a steel slide for water to flow across, the designs and implementations are plenty.

As the weathered steel can handle water without rusting (further), it’s ideal for handling water and provides a great look with the rusted patina contrasting with the clarity of water.

Corten steel stairs

The nature of steel lends itself to structure installations as well as decorative ones and Corten steel stairs are one example. Whether it’s a modest couple of stairs for a level change or a full set of external stairs to a terrace, they can look amazing like this.

Steel can be plenty strong enough for use structurally and the flexibility means stairs are a logical place to use the material. Especially if they are on show.

Corten steel firepit

Here again, the inherent properties of Corten steel lends itself perfectly to a particular use. In this case, as a container for a firepit. Steel is robust enough to cope with a firepit without damage and looks pretty good too.

Whether inset into the ground or freestanding, a Corten steel firepit looks amazing and delivers practicality too.

Corten steel seating

Corten steel seating can look good in any garden. When used as a frame and topped with wood or other softer material, Corten steel provides the looks and practicality we like to see in our garden.

You can use Corten steel for a bench, freestanding stools or individual seating. As it can be shaped into almost anything, it can be anything you like!

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