University of Michigan Rusty Steel Garden Archways

Project ID: #2095

Five rustic metal archways complete the natural landscape. They weave a connection between the botanical gardens and the student research gardens.

  • Corten steel with natural rust patina
  • Donated vintage garden tools (lots of shovels!)
  • Arranged and welded as standalone pieces (no mesh backing)
  • Designed by University of Michigan landscape architecture alum

The first Japanese style metal archway starts at the public bike path. They alternate as they dot the landscape, acting as waypoints along a winding path. They connect the student research garden to the red-roofed outbuilding, through a Michigan wildflower sanctuary, all the way to the parking lot at the Matthaei botanical gardens.

The volunteer community and friends of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum donated the often-vintage tools that were incorporated into fanciful and charming arrays. Left to rust, they have a patina to match the natural color of the Corten steel. For park landscape design, they lend a stately feel. As landscape architecture pieces, they are sure to last while the weathering steel adds shows of its time-worn patina. Season after season, the Corten and the tools rust together and the wide garden arch design becomes a landmark not long forgotten.