Transforming your garden into a magical retreat isn’t an overnight project. It can take a while to find all the treasures that give more personality to your yard. At Goodwill, we want all of our customers to see the potential behind what we sell — not the limitations. We’ll look at some fun ideas for repurposed garden decor, how to get more from everyday objects, and tips for bringing out your creative side.
Plants can grow wherever there are enough nutrients to sustain them, which means you can get creative when it comes to the kinds of planters you use. Try filling up old dresser drawers with gravel and growing succulents. Fill an old wheelbarrow with soil and aim for some serious color blocks in each section. Large enamel bowls, garden carts, and galvanized buckets are just a few other suggestions for you to play around with.
If you wanted to pave part of your garden, it would be expensive to purchase all those bricks. Yet, old bricks are relatively easy and cheap to come by. Plus, they’re usually in good enough condition to give your yard a bit of a path. Bricks often pile up in the garages or yards of many neighbors, so try asking around or looking for used bricks at stores near you. If the bricks are different colors, shapes, and sizes, it will just make your garden that much more unique.
Does your garden fence have a few holes that you haven’t gotten around to filling? Marbles make for an interesting solution. If you can squeeze them in, you’ll have a beautiful way to catch the light and a colorful reminder of all the beauty to be found outside your front door. This decoration works best if you have a relatively uniform number of holes throughout the structure, but it could still serve as a decorative statement if you had only one or two gaps.
Wood pallets can be a great way to give your garden a more organized look. Plus, they allow your plants to grow vertically, giving you that much more space to work with. An excellent choice for smaller yards and gardens, all you have to do is attach some garden mesh to the back of the pallet with staples, pack the soil around the base, and then plant anything you care to plant. Pallets can work well with succulents and perennials alike.
Old china patterns filled with roses, irises, and marigolds might not fit the color scheme of your interior, but they might look just right out in your garden. If you have a fence, affix different sized plates with hooks. The variation in terms of both design and size will make for a more welcoming atmosphere to the garden. Maybe place a few buckets of flowers below to echo the floral pictures above.
If you’re not planning on having a traditional vertical garden, think about repurposing an old ladder as a different kind of upward mobility. Setting up this tool in the garden gives you plenty of options for stacking your many potted plants and containers. (Old watering cans and standard metal buckets look particularly artful and rustic.) You can use this trick for even the smallest of spaces, including that small patch of soil along the edge of the house.
Breathe new life into an old bike by painting it and then filling it up with plants. The basket in front is a great place to start, but planters of different shapes and sizes can be nestled into the many nooks and crannies on the bike. Or you can set one big planter on the seat as a focal point. Try looking for floral colors that complement the color of the bike, such as buttercups with a purple bike, or foxtrot on a blue bike.
Window planters are so versatile that you don’t even need to be indoors to use them. You can repurpose part of the window, attach it to the fence, and then place a traditional window box below. This inventive solution is unexpected and definitely gives guests a reason to look twice. Plus, this project is simpler than it might seem. Pro tip: if you want larger plants in your window box, you’ll need a fairly deep box. If you’re working with a shallow box, just make sure the plants are potted.
Flowers spilling out of mailboxes are an extremely fun idea, and they look especially great when they’re tucked away in trees or leafy bushes. It’s a little Easter egg of whimsy just waiting to be found by those who care to go exploring. Plants inside the mailbox will need to be pretty durable to grow, so you can either choose some of the wilder ones or think outside the mailbox. For example, an old mailbox shaped like a birdhouse could have the top taken off to allow the soil and flowers to reach the sunlight.
With a birdcage, you can theoretically build your own garden even if you had no yard space at all! Placing large planters inside a wired birdcage makes for a romantic touch in any outdoor area. You can also place the birdcage on a large tray with a few extra potted plants to serve as surrounds. Birdcages can be painted in funky colors to add some brightness or you can opt for plain white for a more classic touch.
Old Food Mills
If you look at a food mill in just the right light, it can quickly look like the perfect centerpiece. The base is sturdy enough to hold the soil and the unique shape fans out from the bottom to allow for the burst of color at the top. If you happen to have a table in the garden, fill the food mill with some nutrient-rich Earth and place it in the middle. It’s such an interesting way to use an antique and give life back to items that have been long forgotten.
Odds and Ends
Here are just a few more suggestions to wrap it up:
- Standard clay pots can be repurposed into lighthouses by stacking them on top of each other.
- Glass cookie jars can be turned into terrariums with the help of the right kit.
- Fence posts can be turned into a small garden bench just big enough for two.
- Tires can be painted and turned into friendly garden snails or more planters.
- Golf balls can be painted as ladybugs and hubcaps can be turned into novelty flowers.
The best decor for your garden has as much to do with your style as it does the items that surround you. If you’re wondering what to look for, try thinking as broad as you possibly can. The more specific your ideas are, the more likely you’re going to end up ordering decorations from a catalog or buying them brand-new. With so many creative ways to turn old objects into something new, you might just need to make a few trips to a thrift store like Goodwill to get the inspiration you need.