Garden windmill projects

Written by danielle hill
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Garden windmill projects
Windmills add a distinctive element to gardens. (windmill image by Earl Robbins from

Whether you want to give your garden an element of movement, a nostalgic or traditional feeling or you want to learn a bit about green energy sources, building a windmill makes a simple and whimsical project. Because windmills, whether functional or decorative, involve some delicate, moving parts, it's best to build your first windmill from a plan. Select one that suits your needs, whether a soaring Dutch-style reproduction or an efficient miniature model that generates electricity.

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Decorative Windmills

A gently oscillating windmill may well serve no other purpose than adorning your garden. For a DIY project of simple to moderate difficulty, follow plans to build a decorative windmill. Styles vary, with some of the most popular modelled on the "country windmill" or the "Dutch windmill." A Dutch-style windmill often features latticework along its turbine blades and a base reminiscent of Dutch windmill architecture at reduced scale. A country-style windmill has a simpler design, with simple crossbeams supporting the turbines. A full-sized decorative windmill will measure at least 6 feet high. Build a wooden windmill out of plywood or pine. As when building any outdoor structure, ensure all lumber is treated for all-weather exposure. Alternatively, select wood that naturally resists mildew or rot. If your plan requires any wood to directly meets the ground, ensure that it has all necessary staining or treatment, beyond approval for above-ground use.

Functional Windmills

If you'd like to combine your garden decor with a touch of practicality, consider building a windmill that creates a little bit of energy with every rotation. Functional windmills require slightly more mechanical ingenuity than decorative windmills, though they may demand less involved woodworking skill. Miniature models make appropriate science projects for youngsters; most models include thorough instructions so mechanically minded children can complete them. Even small windmills can produce impressive amounts of energy; the Savonius wind turbine, small enough to sit on a tabletop, can produce 3 volts with winds of 12 miles per hour.

Miniature Windmills

Intended for decoration, miniature windmills work well to adorn flower beds or create focal points within the garden. They typically reach 3 to 5 feet tall and often borrow from Dutch or country-style decorative detailing. Miniature windmills are appropriate projects for beginners; because the windmill blades are not expected to be very responsive to wind, they needn't be measured and cut as precisely as those on functional models.

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