Create Recycled Garden Art
heard the phrase that one man's trash is another man's treasure. In this section I think you'll find this to be very true. Hi, my
name is Doug and I want to show you how you can create art for your
garden using ordinary objects that have been discarded. Below are some
examples of how I took objects that were either given to me, bought
cheap, or were being tossed out, and then I recycled them into art for
my garden. Maybe you're like me, you hate to see anything thrown away,
especially if it can be turned into something useful. Besides the
low to no cost, another one of the
benefits is you will have very unique art. You don't have to buy
expensive art for your garden. You can create it yourself using found
objects that you have rescued from a fatal date with your local
If you do decide to purchase new art
for your office or personal space, doesn't it make sense to buy objects that have been recycled from something else? There are many
artists who like working with reclaimed materials. You benefit by having
very unique sculptures with a history. The earth benefits by reducing
the trash sent to the landfills. It also reduces
the need for mining the earth for brand new raw materials that are
necessary to manufacture new products.
Click on photos for larger size.
start with a very simple project. I had a box springs that
was too far gone todonate, so in order to keep it out of the landfill, I disassembled it, saving most of the
resulting parts, even though I didn't know yet what they would become.
I saved the fabric to use as a drop cloth for painting. The wood
frame I saved for future wood projects. As I removed the springs,
I was stacking them together when it occurred to me that they looked a
lot like flowers. They easily screwed into each other because of
their corkscrew shape. I divided them into 5 stacks for 5 flowers
heads, but now I needed stems. The bed had a heavy iron rod
rectangular shaped frame around the perimeter, so I cut it into 4 pieces using
my handy dandy bolt cutter. Fortunately I had an additional rod in the garage
for the 5th stem. I simply shoved the rods into the bottom end of
the flower heads and that's all it needed to stay together. I
stuck them in the ground and called them "spring flowers". Later I
added a bit of color with some purple spray paint. It was easy and
simple, resulting in a very unique garden sculpture.
Bowling for art. Another simple idea is this sculpture made using colorful bowling balls purchased at local thrift stores. I bought them over a period of time because I like
to scatter them around my garden for added color, and I like the shape.
The balls were placed on
top of copper pipes by shoving the pipe into one of the finger holes,
then the other end of the rod was pushed into the ground. It
doesn't get much simpler than this to create a unique garden feature.
The rods can be whatever you can find. I just happened to have
some old copper pipes left from a remodel job. If you don't have
anything handy, you can buy some inexpensive pieces of re-bar at your
local big box hardware store in the cement department.
up for a game of cards? I saw a round folding card table that
my neighbors had put at the curb for garbage pick up, so I walked over and rescued it. It had a metal frame and
legs and a thin masonite round top covered in naugahyde, which is
simulated leather made from vinyl. After disassembling the table, I got the idea
of hanging the large round top on one of my outside house walls to
represent the sun hanging over my collection of plastic pink flamingoes.
I must point out that this setting is at a place in my garden where no
one can see it except me when I'm sitting in one of my favorite chairs
under the pink grapefruit tree.
The scene reminds me of one of those documentaries about
wildlife in Africa where the sun always seems enormous. Please note the
recycled broken ceramic tiles used as a mulch. By the way, I
saved the round metal frame and legs for a future project
said you can't hang a painting outside This photo was taken in my
previous garden in Atlanta. A good friend and neighbor made this
painting using plaster and paint on masonite. He decided to toss
it and asked if I wanted it, so I hung it on my fence. By the time this
photo was taken, it had been there a few years and was beginning to
deteriorate. I didn't mind that because it fit right in with the theme
of the ancient architectural element in the painting. To me there is
great natural beauty in things that are decaying. Water seal can
be applied to prolong the process.
Yikes, snakes in the garden. I borrowed
this idea from artist Georgia O'Keefe. Simple smooth river stones
placed in the form of a snake. It can't get much simpler than
that, yet it adds such an interesting element to be discovered by anyone
who cares to notice.
for an idea? Try this one. I found this rotted stump from a giant
oak tree curbside after someone pulled it from it's home of perhaps a
century or more in the earth. I talked a friend into helping me
get it home. I'm sure he thought I'd lost my mind, but I saw a
beautiful sculpture that had been discarded. I turned it upside
down in my garden where it added character and interest, as well as
beauty for many years.. Keep your eyes open and alert as you
travel the streets. You never know what you might find to enhance
your garden, while at the same helping the environment by keeping it out
of the landfill.
Stacked ceramic tiles make a terrific
garden pedestal. One day I went to a local flooring store looking
for discarded carpet to use as a weed block. There were several cherry
laurel trees out front that were relentless in their attempts to create
new trees, so I wanted to block the many runners from sprouting upwards.
While I was there the owner asked if I knew of anyone who would want her
old sample tiles. I immediately said I'd take them. I didn't
have any idea what I'd do with them, but I knew I'd think of something.
After selecting some for a bathroom mosaic broken tile project, I sorted
the rest and stacked them by size to create this garden pedestal. One
very important warning. Make sure you put down a solid level base
first to make sure the stack stays perfectly perpendicular to the earth,
otherwise it could end up leaning as the ground underneath it settles. I
used a large square concrete patio block and a level after tamping the
earth. By the way, that carpet idea didn't work. The cherry laurel
sprouts forced their way right through the carpet, even with its heavy
backing. I eventually cut the trees down because they were entirely too
invasive for this small property. They're better suited where they have
lots of room to spread.
Monroe is what the artist titled this one of a kind wall sculpture
made from 2 oil drum lids, to give it extra depth. If you're handy with a cutting torch and welder, you too can come up with your
own creative wall sculptures made from old oil drum lids. Check your
yellow pages for scrap metal dealers in your area. They can be a
terrific source for raw materials. Or just keep your eyes open along the
curb right before trash day. Raw materials are everywhere if you're
aware enough to spot them. Just make sure they are being willingly
itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. This incredible, not
so itsy bitsy spider and web were hand crafted in Haiti from a 55
gallon oil drum that had been flattened and painstakingly cut by hand
with a hammer and chisel. Haiti is a country with many artists but few
raw materials. What they did have was a huge number of used oil
drums, so someone got the very good idea to use these ugly steel
containers to create beautiful art. This is now a thriving art
form in Haiti.
I found this impressive sea serpent dragon at a local art festival called Images.
It's a simple 4 piece design cut from old rusted sheet metal. Each piece
has a stake at the bottom so you can stick it in the ground just about
anywhere making the dragon as short or long as you want. It's one of my
favorite garden sculptures.
gotta swim, even in your garden. Here are three examples of
fish made from recycled oil drums and other scrap metal. The first one
was made in India. It's rather intricate because of the individual
scales that were spot welded one by one. This might be too much
for the novice welder, but it might give you some good ideas.
This painted fish was made in
Haiti. Like the spider above, it too was recycled from a flattened oil drum and then hand cut and hand painted.
A Georgia artist made this graceful garden fish from recycled steel, with a post that allows it to be positioned just
about anywhere. Here it shows up well against the contrasting wall
Birdhouses are a great way to use recycled materials. They can be made from
old worn out cedar or treated pine fence boards, rusted metal
roofing, or anything else you can come up with. Go to your garage and see what you can find to work with.
Get creative. Think of a way to recycle something that would never
normally be used to make a birdhouse such as an old computer housing.
This one was made many years ago by a good friend who is no longer
with us. She used fence boards and wood trim that she found along
the curb left for garbage pick up. Whenever she would see someone
removing a fence or old shed, she would talk to the owner to ask for the
materials that she could use. She made birdhouses for a living so
the style was often dictated by the available materials. She added her
own distinct touches with paint and things like the little wreath that
she bought at a crafts store. Some of the early ones even had tiny porch
Neon can make a bold statement
in your garden, especially at night. I used to collect old neon simply because I love the bright garish magic of it, and I had access to
it occasionally when living in Atlanta. As buildings and neon
signs were abandoned, there were enterprising young men who salvaged the
gas and glass advertisements from a previous era. I found this one
in a newspaper ad. It had originally been the O in a large Kodak
sign that stood for many decades on top of a local building until it
went dark when the building changed hands. I later installed it on my
then new garden bench here in Florida, but I soon removed it when a
hurricane was on its way. It now hangs in one of my windows inside
where it's protected. For those of you who don't live in the path of
hurricanes, neon can be a great focal point for your evening garden
parties. Many stores are now selling new neon, so this is still an
option even if you can't find anything vintage. A few words of caution,
make sure squirrels can't get to it because they can easily snap the
glass, thinking it's a tree limb for them to climb on. Also, be aware
that neon is ignited by an electric current that is enhanced by a
transformer. Make sure any bare wires are covered and inaccessible
to inquisitive fingers. Neon is merely glass tubing with neon gas sealed
inside. It's very fragile so be careful.