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Wacky Creative Garden Art | Blending junk and vintage items into tasteful garden décor

Updated on September 8, 2013
Clay pots are stacked on a rebar post.
Clay pots are stacked on a rebar post.
Vintage bathtub with clay pot person
Vintage bathtub with clay pot person

Colorful garden arts brings out a splash of year round color regardless if flowers and plants are in seasonable bloom or not.

Have some fun with garden décor using creative mixes of junk and vintage glassware, pots, pans, tools, and equipment.

With readily available items from junk heaps, garage sales and thrift markets you can repurpose, recycle, and create interesting colorful tasteful garden décor.

You can also help save the landfills and green up your garden spaces with interesting art work using colorful glass bottles, mismatched or cracked dishes, and other items destined to be trashed.

Items which are carefully hand crafted make nice gifts to other gardeners who also appreciate garden art.

Just about anything durable enough to withstand the elements will make interesting garden décor.

Tranquil flower gardens are good for lowering blood pressure while providing stress relievers.

A bit of humor delivered through garden art can bring a chuckle or a burst of laughter that also helps during our more stressful periods in life.

The Don't Do List

Once you catch the fever you can very easily get carried away and get a bit too wacky.

For the sake of your family, community, neighbors, and your image, garden décor should be done with class, in good taste, and in moderation.

Your garden art should never place you on the wrong side of neighborhood gossip or your Home Owners Association for HOA corrective action letters.

Sometimes we can dream bigger than we can maintain.

An over weeded flower bed with junk in the middle well, looks like an overgrown junk yard.

Start small on flower beds that can be weeded and kept groomed.

Garden art should also be in proportion with the size of the yard, flower bed and overall space.

The clay pot arbor in the picture is one of several at the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence Texas.

It is used to welcome visitors to a sprawling complex spread over several acres.

For a backyard garden this massive arbor would probably overwhelm the space.

A flower bed is for flowers and that is what should be noticed first. Using too many large bright colored structures might just look like a kids playground from a distance.

Painted metal art and sculptures add character and interest. When it appears that you are actually in the business of making and selling them, you have probably went too far.

Pleasing Garden Art

Personally, I like bright and colorful garden art that blends in with the flowers and plantings without screaming out at me.

On some of the more interesting gardens that we have visited, I first became so much in awe with my initial glimpse of the plantings and flowers.

I really never noticed the garden art until I took several sweeps of the garden space.

Then I begin to actually realize the creativity being added to my visual experience through garden art.

Themes are also attractive and cute. From a fantasy fairy garden to a vintage kitchen gadget herb garden you can tell a story about your garden space.

Hobby collections that can withstand the outside elements can also be incorporated into attractive garden art pieces.

The wooden cross in the picture displays a large assortment of old valve handles.

This same concept can be used to display a collection of vintage automobile name plates, metal gears, keys, or glass marbles.

A retired individual who lives in their garden spaces might enjoy a garden gift made up from a relics they used in their profession.

Garden Décor Framework

Concrete rebar is the most popular choice for frame work and ground stakes for use in building and supporting garden art.

It comes in sizes from a ¼” all the way up to 1”. Sold new it comes in 10’ and 20' links, but checkout construction sites and contractors who use rebar daily for scrap ends.

Rebar can be cut to length with a hacksaw or powered metal cutting saw.

Rebar in the smaller sizes is rather easy to bend and shape. For thicker sizes making the bend on a longer piece will give better leverage. Then cut the item to length once the bend is completed.

A cutting torch and welder can expand the use of rebar as well as other metal garden art to new limits.

These items are not necessary for some of the smaller projects that are pictured.

The clay pots that are staggered up in the picture use one section of rebar. Clay pots with the holes that are already in the bottoms are then stacked on the rebar and laid over to alternating sides.

Drip irrigation can be added easily to these types of structures.

The clay pots used to make the arbors are strung on to long rebar with PVC pipe spacers to prevent them from fully stacking together.

Some of the clay pots used to make the bells on top of the arbor were strung together with wire or cable with the PVC spacers.

Glass dishes and bottles

Diamond coated drill bits are available at hardware and home centers to drill holes in glass and ceramics using a drill operated at very low speeds.

Some who are doing large production art work using glass dishes have incorporated a small fountain pump and tray with a small drill press set in the middle.

The water is sprayed over the top of the glass part that is being drilled to keep it cooled down.

You will want to try some real junk pieces until you get a hang of drilling into glass plates and wine bottles as the breakage rate is extremely high for a beginner until they get the hang of it.

Always wear personal protective equipment such as goggles, thick leather gloves and long sleeve shirts to protect yourself in case the glass shatters.

Items screwed together with long bolts and nuts should have a rubber grommet or washer to keep the glass parts from cracking or breaking.

Other glass items can be glued together using clear epoxy glue.

Large glass bowls glued on top of an upright make colorful bird baths.

Garden Borders

Garden borders can also be made using recycled items to add art to the garden. Broken dinner plates and bowls were used in one flower garden border in the pictures.

Used bricks and rocks are very commonly used for garden borders. Reclaimed bricks from a famous building in town will add a bit of history and remembrance to your garden spaces.

Recycled ceramic tiles from an old fireplace make and interesting border, while wine bottles lined upside down are used in several of the flower gardens we visited.

Wine and liquor bottles

The most colorful glass bottles come from wine and liquor bottles.

The contrast of the blues, greens, yellows, orange and reds are popular in making bottle trees.

Cedar trees make the best wine bottle trees.

The cedar is resistant to insect and rot for direct ground burial and the nearly perfect plentiful tree limbs jutting out at 30 degrees are perfect bottle hangers.

Others make wine bottle trees using a round or square post and drilling the holes in around the trunk at 30 degrees to hang the bottles on.

Unless you just come across an old dead cedar tree in the woods, cleaning up a freshly cut one or drilling holes into a post are going to be about as labor intensive.

Wine bottles can also be drilled to use in different designs.

A most interesting garden design that I was not able to get a picture of used wine bottles threaded vertically onto rebar uprights.

Holes were drilled through the bottle bottoms so that the rebar could be threaded through the bottle stem out to bottom in order to stack them up in rows spaced closely to each other.

A similar interesting structure could be made by drilling a hole through the sides of wine bottles and then stacking them on the rebar turning the bottle necks in opposite or a staggered directions.

String these colorful glass structures with white Christmas tree lights and make a beautiful lighted nighttime garden art piece.

Architectural Items

Old house metal roof caps, doors, windows, trim and hardware also make attractive garden structures.

Copper roof finals, chimney caps, roof caps, glass ball lighting rods and old weather vanes can make very attractive garden décor items.

Iron grates, shutters and garden gates also make great trellises and garden back drops.

A word of caution in using old glass windows in building garden aviaries’ and structures. Old glass windows were not made using safety glass.

A person who might accidentally trip and falls forward into the glass structure could be severely cut by the long jagged glass slivers that occur when it breaks.


Signs made of wood metal or inlaid glass and ceramics display cute garden sayings. Hand painted signs are the easiest.

For more permanent signs broken ceramic tiles, or glass inset into wet concrete makes interesting garden stepping stones.

Since concrete sets up quickly the same stained glass window design can be accomplished by using a thin set mortar used to set ceramic tile on an existing concrete stepping stone.

When the thin set has dried then add sanded ceramic tile grout to fill in the gaps and wet sponge off until the inset items are clean and shinny.

Sanded grout is for large gaps, non-sanded grout is for thin spaces between ceramic wall tiles.

Wooden Bird and Butterfly Houses

Brightly painted bird houses always add a splash of color to a flower garden. Add several different styles that are all painted in different colors to a post in the center of a flower bed for a climbing flowering plant trellis.

Old Agriculture Equipment

Old garden planters, plows and horse drawn equipment bring interest to the garden.

Some of this old equipment adds an element all of it's own if it's just left rusty.

While old rusty metal cultivator wheels are one of my favorites other items that have been let to deteriorate beyond their antique values are all fair game.

The one picture shows an old galvanized chicken feeder that makes a perfect garden planter.

Other items like the old iron implement seats can be painted and bolted down to a structure to provide an inviting seat to sit and watch the butterflies.

Vintage Items

There's a lot of vintage items found in old junk piles that are no longer of any significant value.

Galvanized and porcelain tubs, pots and pans, hand well pumps, pulleys, cream separators, as well as old garden equipment to just name a few.

Old galvanized wash tubs that have been allowed to rust out in the bottoms make excellent raised container pots.

The old wash tubs that are still on the metal stands also make a great flower planter.

Old metal bed frames make a cute "bed of flowers".

Keep in mind the larger the planting area the better that it will maintain the moisture in between watering.

Junk Items

Junk items is the one place where people can quickly outdo their garden décor welcome. The stack of old painted bicycle wheels makes an interesting climbing trellis in the right garden space.

A complete bicycle painted in a soft solid color makes an interesting garden backdrop without looking like some neighbor kid crashed their bicycle into your flower garden.

A kids tricycle or old metal wagon could be used in a similar manner.

A word about our sponsor

Cottage Craft Works at is an online old fashioned style general store that is committed to helping people find self sufficiency and enjoy less stressful times. Old fashioned products and information that was used in the early 1900s is shared randomly through blogs and the web site.


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    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      Love this hub! I have my entire backyard decorated in recycled objects I found. I always keep and eye out for something new. Thanks for the wonderful ideas,

    • jocent profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought I was the only one doing these crazy I can show others that my Idea is not craziness but work of art. Someday I will post mine too!!! Maybe I will earn respect from those who knows how to look at crazy arts. Thank you for giving credits to people who has eyes on a different level of imagination!!!

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      This is such an incredibly creative article! These ideas are amazing and I totally love your images. I love, love, love the trellis made of clay pots simply awesome. It is amazing how one man's junk is another man's treasure. I really think this art is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose


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