Making Gifts for the Garden

29 Jun 2017

The growing season is a great time to repurpose items for the garden. Here are 12 ideas.

By Eli Wallace To inject quick character into your garden, look no further than the objects in your home. Repurposing projects don’t need to be hugely complicated, so you can focus on fun while recycling items you no longer need or want. If you’re up for a bigger challenge, train your eye to see the hidden garden potential in raw materials. “We make lots of patio tables from reclaimed tops and metal bases,” says Joy Wallin of Boulder’s Reclaimed Style, which sells an eclectic mix of locally made art and items for the home and garden. “Right now I’m building elevated doggie diners from reclaimed wood that came from a deck behind my house.” Repurposed junk could become a centerpiece in your garden, too, so get inspired. The following projects are an easy place to start.

Label Love

Photo by Carol Brock
Creative plant labels are one of the easiest and fastest DIY garden projects. Try using tall wooden spoons or wine corks stuck on sticks for labels. Both projects require little more than a permanent marker and the materials themselves.

Bright and Amazing

Photo by Nichole Greenley
Lafayette mom Nichole Greenley spray-painted an ugly pot and a found rattan basket in bright yellow. “Now they look amazing,” says Greenley, who also crafted the wind chime with her daughters from found beach shells.

Bottle Borders

Photo by
There’s no end to the uses for empty bottles. Incorporate them into a garden wall to make a colorful, eclectic fence.

Bottle Planters

Planters designed by Enrique Gutierrez for
Cut bottles in half and plant them with succulents and other plants.

Vertical Lines

Fabric planter photo by Ana Ara
For a tidy garden in a small space, try a shoe organizer or fabric pouches. Just fill pouches with soil, plants, flowers or herbs, and hang them on a fence or wall to create a vertical garden.

Creative Containers

Photo by
If it holds soil, it can grow plants. Consider how the container will drain when choosing what to plant. Metal, ceramic, plastic and glass objects hold up best outdoors, while wood takes on a weathered patina.

Creative Containers 2

Photo by Cegli
Creative container ideas abound, and the more unusual the vessel the better, whether it’s old suitcases, car tires, rain boots, a teapot, wooden drawers or even a discarded toilet (?!).

Creative Containers 3

Photo by Tatiana Chekryzhova
“Lots of furniture items are usable out­doors in the garden,” Wallin says. However, don’t put pressboard or particleboard furniture outside, she says. “It can’t handle Colorado sun and rain.”

Make It Up

photo courtesy Authentic Barnwood
If you can work raw materials into something new, the whole garden is your oyster. Dan Shetter of Longmont’s Authentic Barnwood recently created a rain-catchment box from reclaimed plywood, shiplap and shipping crates. “I used a recycled 20-gallon Nalgene bottle as a rainwater-catchment reservoir inside the box,” he says. “I siphon from the reservoir to water nearby flowers and vegetable beds.” His shop sells finished reclaimed-wood creations, as well as reclaimed wood for those who wish to tackle their own projects.

Discarded Metal Parts

photo courtesy Nest Antiques
Longmont’s Nest Antiques carries bird and flower garden art made from discarded metal parts.

Repurposed Wood Pallets

photo by Russ Wright
Denver artist Russ Wright creates garden and wall art by repurposing wooden pallets. He paints them with designs, like Colorado license plates, VW minibuses, Colorado flags and Colorado postcards (above center). “What I enjoy most about creating with pallets is that, unlike painting on a canvas, there’s so much texture and hands-on technique with pallets,” says Wright, who lives in the RiNo (River North) Art District. “I never have a problem finding pallets, or any other discarded items, to paint. It’s very satisfying to repurpose something, knowing that the piece serves a new usefulness.”

Ideas Everywhere

photo courtesy Nest Antiques
In fact, ideas for repurposed garden items are everywhere for those with a little vision and creativity, including this garden art flower from Longmont's Nest Antiques.
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