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Garden Decor (Lots of Creative Ideas for Your Garden)

Once the perennials are coming up (maybe you’ve rearranged a few) and added in some annuals to your flower bed, it’s time to add some personality and character to your garden. One of my favorite parts of gardening is putting the finishing touches on my flower gardens by adding some Garden Decor and Garden Art. My favorite garden decor pieces are reinvented junk or vintage items that I upcycle or repurpose.

Using old repurposed items in garden décor, and home decor for that matter, is a trendy thing to do. Although lots of us old school gardeners could care less about what’s trendy, we just do what we like and have been doing it for years. If you’re new to gardening, I would just encourage you to experiment to find your style and just go with what you like and what suits you and not necessarily what is trendy.

This post includes lots of ideas you can take and use in your own gardens, plus some tips on putting together some vignettes and how to find vintage pieces or junk to upcycle into garden decor.

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Tips for Creating Garden Art Groupings

Garden Vignettes are little groupings of junk put together and nestled in among the flowers to add a bit of character to the garden. To create a vignette in your garden, simply pull together some of your decor pieces, arrange them, step back and take a look and then rearrange your pieces until you’ve got it just right. Sometimes, I will simply leave a vignette for a few hours or even days to see if it grows on me.

Below is an upcycled barnwood bench that I picked up at a boutique. I use it just about every year somewhere in my gardens or on my porch. Barn wood is readily available now and if you have the tools and a bit of carpentry skills this would be a fairly simple DIY project. The flowers in the planter are Torenia (Wishbone Plant).

Garden Vignette featuring an Upcycled Barnwood Bench

The Barnwood Bench is styled a little differently here.

Garden Decor with Barnwood Bench

Below is another way I used the rustic barn wood bench. Also included in this grouping is an antique coal bucket used as a planter. The coal bucket planter has impatiens, new guinea impatiens, torenia and creeping jenny. An old broken rake was used to hang a cute garden sign on. There’s also an antique, galvanized watering can and a solar light to round out the grouping.

Cute grouping in a flower garden that includes a bench, a coal bucket with flowers, a watering can, a solar light, and an old rake with a garden sign hanging on it that says in the garden.

Another little vignette I put together for my front porch. The plant shelf was picked up at an estate sale, the galvanized water can was from a garage sale and the little wood planter was a thrift store find.

Garden Decor & Garden Art

Creative Ways to Use Watering Cans in Your Gardens

Create instant character by using a short shepherd’s hook to hang teapots, little decorative watering cans or little pails from it. The little yellow watering can pictured below was purchased as a thrift store for a couple of bucks.

The perennials in this picture are Black-Eyed Susans and Zaegreb Coreopsis. The annuals include Gomphrena, Alyssum, Browallia (Blue Bells), Marigolds and Snapdragons.

Decorative watering can hanging from shepherd's hook.

Recycled watering cans add tons of character to a garden. You can spruce up an old watering can or simply change the color with a can of spray paint. This watering can was a faded ugly green color and my husband drilled holes in the bottom and spray painted it. Now it’s a cute, little planter.

Image of a red watering can with a fern in it.

This little pink watering can got the same treatment.

Image of a pink watering can planter.

My neighbor likes to decorate her gardens very similar to the way I decorate mine. Here she uses an old watering can with clear beads hanging from the nozzle to simulate water. 

Image of a garden.

More Ideas for Adding Creative Decor to Your Gardens

As you’ve already seen in this post, shepherd’s hooks can be used for more than just hanging planters on and they come in more than just one height. Use the tall ones anywhere you need to add some height in the garden. The shorter ones can be used in container gardens or really anywhere in the garden to add a touch of whimsy.

Here’s another little vignette idea using a galvanized pail filled with annual Lobelia hanging from a shepherd’s hook. The flowers between the frog and turtle are Torenia.

Galvanized pail filled with lobelia hanging from a shepherd's hook

Here’s a little vignette I put together on my deck one year using a wicker basket I picked up at a thrift store. Using an upturned pot to act as a table of sorts is a great way to add interest and create height in a garden display. 

Garden Display featuring a wicker basket of flowers.

Using Repurposed Vintage or Antique Items in the Gardens

I got a great deal on this old vintage milk can at a flea market several years ago. This thing is really heavy and my sweet hubby who indulges me with my addictions, or rather hobbies, carried it all the way to the car. We now take a wagon when we go to flea markets.

This old milk can was exceptionally ugly, thus the reason for it’s cheap price tag, so I sanded it down and spray painted it. I might change its color someday, but for now I like the blue. Here it is with red Calibrochoa and Cardinal Climber Vine. The Clematis pictured is Blue Rhapsody. The other blooming perennials are Campanula (Wedding Bell) and Sun Drops.

Vintage milk can in a flower garden.

Here’s my upcycled milk can in a shady spot with a Fucshia planted in it. I believe the giant Hosta is Paradigm.

Vintage milk can in a shade garden.

Using an old chair and plopping a pot of flowers on it make adds lots of creativity to your flower garden. If you’ve followed Gingham Gardens for any length of time, you’ve seen this old chair. It finds a place in one of my gardens every year.  Since this picture, it’s gotten a paint job so it stands out better against the aged cedar fencing. The Hydrangea pictured is Twist and Shout. The galvanized planter on the chair is filled with Fuchsia, Vinca Vine and Asparagus Fern.

Vintage Chair with Galvanized Pot of Fushia

Below is the same old chair a few years after receiving a paint job. I’m not sure how many more seasons it will last, but I sure have gotten my monies worth.

Grouping of flowers with old junk chair, milk can, watering cans and solar lantern.

What about adding an old ladder to your garden. A ladder is the perfect piece to add some height where you need it. It’s so fun to style up this repurposed ladder every year. I picked it up at an estate sale several years ago and it has made many appearances in my gardens. 

Old ladder used in garden vignette

Another favorite is this old wheelbarrow I picked up at an estate sale. If you have an old wheelbarrow you want to use as a planter, drill some holes in the bottom to allow for drainage and you’re ready to plant. Here’s an article I wrote for Hometalk that shows you exactly how to plant in your old wheelbarrow.

Shade garden featuring an old upcycled wheelbarrow as a planter.

This old whiskey barrel was a gift from the hubs many, many years ago. I love it so much and it adds so much character that I plant in it every year. My repurposed whiskey barrel planter isn’t going to last too much longer, but I’ll keep planting in it until it just falls apart. I’ve used it both dumped over like in the picture below and sitting up.

Whiskey barrel filled with impatiens.

In recent years, the old whiskey barrel is used upright to cover a tree stump. Isn’t it super cute? If you love using whiskey barrels in your gardens, be sure to check out this post.

Whiskey Barrel Planter

Using Natural Elements As Garden Decor

If you’re on a limited gardening budget, use junk you can find in nature like field stones or logs (especially birch). I used to take my kids and their friends to construction sites to pick up field stones for me. I’ll just say they weren’t thrilled, but they did enjoy getting paid for their labor and it usually meant a trip to Dairy Queen.

This is a cute little shade vignette using some birch logs and rocks. The orange and white flowers are Impatiens and the Heuchera (Coral Bells) is Limelight.

Orange and white impatiens with stones and birch logs.

Here’s another cool “pinteresty” project my hubby did for me. He hollowed out this maple log and I used it for a planter for a few years. And, another watering can hanging on a shepherd’s hook.

Hollowed out log used as a planter.

It’s also fun to add a water feature to your gardens. I miss our little pond, but I don’t miss the work of cleaning it out in the spring.

Garden Decor - Little Pond

Where to Find Vintage Items to Upcycle as Garden Decor

Some great places to look for cool garden art and decor items are: estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and my favorite, flea markets. I usually find the best prices at garage sales and flea markets. Also if you find something you really want at a flea market or garage sale you can usually haggle to get the price down.

This a a picture from my favorite local flea market. Can you pick out all the junk that you could use in your gardens? First of all the ladders made into an arbor would be so cute with a clematis or other vine growing on them. See the vintage milk cans. What about the big old rusty pot looking thing to the left; think awesome planter! The egg basket hanging on ladder arbor would also make an adorable planter. What else do you see in this picture that you could use in your gardens?

Flea Market Junk for Garden Decor

Below is another vendor at the same flea market, this picture just screams at me. I especially love the chippy, rustic picket fence panels. And, look there’s a rusty old wheelbarrow just waiting for a gardener to snatch it up.

Garden Decor at a Flea Market

Vintage Pieces to Upcycle for Your Garden

Below is a list of my favorite vintage items to repurpose for garden decor. I draw the line at car parts and bathroom fixtures, but to each their own. I have an entire board in Pinterest dedicated to Garden Décor and Junk

  • Ladders
  • Chairs
  • Vintage Bicycles
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Galvanized milk pails
  • Other galvanized farm buckets and containers
  • Whiskey barrels
  • Old wood windows
  • Vintage milk cans
  • Vintage mason jars
  • Galvanized watering cans
  • Old wicker baskets
  • Tea pots
  • Old picket fencing
  • Vintage gates
  • Water pumps
  • Birdhouses
  • Vintage wooden tool boxes
  • Old terra cotta clay pots

There’s a free printable list of these items and more available to subscribers in our Gardening Resources Library. It’s perfect to print off, highlight the items you’re looking for and take along when you go to flea markets, thrift stores, garage sales or estate sales to keep you focused.

If you like what you see here, I’d love to have you join me! And, I promise it will totally be worth your time, with more awesome gardening ideas coming once or twice a week. As an added bonus to subscribing, you’ll have access to our very useful Free Gardening Printables Resource Library.

Do you like to use junk or upcycled vintage items to decorate your gardens? What are some of your favorite garden decor or garden art pieces?

This article encompasses just a small fraction of the Garden Junk and Decor
articles on Gingham Gardens.

Here are some other Related Articles You’ll Enjoy:

Creative Garden Ideas
Garden Vignettes Using Flea Market Finds
Upcycled Vintage Garden Decor
Creative Flower Container Gardening
Shade Border Junk Gardens

Thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I hope you’re enjoying your visit and are coming up with some ideas for your own gardens. Feel free to hang around for a bit and check out some other gardening goodies.

Happy Gardening,

p.s. Go ahead and feel free to “pin” these pictures. If you hover in the upper left-hand corner of the picture, you’ll see the little Pinterest icon. Just click it and pin away.

p.p.s I’d love to have you follow me on Pinterest. Lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.

Save these pins to your Gardening Board on Pinterest for future reference:

Image of Garden Decor with Text Overlay - 18 Ideas for Adding Character to Your Gardens

Images of Garden Decor with Text Overlay - 18 Ideas for Adding Character to Your Gardens


  1. You might be interested in Geoff Hamilton’s work. He used to present BBC’s Gardener’s World programme and was brilliant at recycling and repurposing way before it was a trend (showing my age now)

  2. I like the idea of having a barrel like some of those in my garden. I feel like that would be a decorative way to hold plants or just add some atmosphere to the area. I should look into getting some decorations like that so I could make the garden as nice as possible.

  3. Love your beautiful gardens. Thanks for including the names of your plants. Just moved into the house my hubby grew up in after we did a complete remodel. Next summer I get to tackle the yard. I have galvanized buckets, a wheel barrow, cream can with the tag still on it from a local farmer from scrounging around rock piles in the fields. I saw several ideas on your pages. Thanks. Love the ladder and the hubby made trellis. I think I saw a wood ladder at the farm. Our part of ND has tons of rock piles in farmers fields so I can’t wit to get started. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Cheri – Thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens! It sounds like we love the same kinds of gardening junk and decor. There are lots more ideas and posts, so I hope you’ll consider subscribing to my newsletter to keep up. Or, at least stopping back on occasion. Good luck in your new home (and gardens). Happy gardening, Joanna

  4. Everything in your garden looks so fresh and clean – not a spec of dirt anywhere! Don’t know how you keep a garden that tidy outdoors – weather and all happens!! I live in the forest foothills – always pine needles, leaves, seed pods, plant seeds and dirt blowing everywhere. I keep busy just picking up leaf litter from the pathways and it looks “natural” more than clean.
    I’d like to know what the wooden bin in the background in picture #10 (from the top)

    1. Hi Denise, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Some of those pictures were from my gardens at our former house and we didn’t have as many trees so the gardens were tidier. I use mulch too and that keeps things looking tidy too. The box you’re referring to is a raised bed garden in the neighbor’s yard. Happy gardening!

  5. I love all of these vignettes. Did you do anything special to your ladder to keep pots from falling off?

    1. Not at all. I’ve had really good luck with that. Just make sure the ladder is protected a bit from wind. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening! Joanna

  6. Joanna,
    Me again!!! Thanks so much for stopping by!! As I said before, I LOVE EVERYTHING in your beautiful gardens!!!

  7. Thanks so much for stopping by!! LOVE all your whimsical garden art!! Beautiful!!

  8. Joanna, I learned so much from you today. I love the shorter crooks with watering cans! My garden needs more whimsey so I need to get out to some flea markets and garage sales.
    I enjoyed your post from Gardens Galore.

  9. I enjoy garden art and I like all your ideas! I always wanted to do the whiskey barrel on the side but just didn’t have a spot for it. Love the hollowed out log- nothing like seeing pretty flowers against a rustic background!

  10. Joanna, it’s fun to visit your garden with all the fanciful touches here and there. I add a few pieces among the ferns growing in the beds here. They are mostly rabbit statuary. Thanks for sharing. This is delightful!

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah, for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m happy you enjoyed my gardens.

  11. Joanna, I love how you use different elements in your garden. Finding flea market items and using them creatively makes your garden unique and recognizable! Thank you for sharing your creative gardening with Gardens Galore and Happy Gardening!

  12. I make a lot of decor like this for my yard as well. Love to see what others are making too. Thanks for sharing on To Grandma’s House We Go!

  13. Good afternoon Joanna, You certainly have talent for making reclaimed things interesting . Your combinations seem simple & easy to do but I know thru experience & lots of failures that It’s not easy.to make it work. It’s sort of like Frank Sinatra singing a song. His phrasing sounds so easy but when American Idol had a Sinatra night some very good singers could not pull it off. I know that sounds off the wall but that’s what comes to mind when people with talent make hard things seem so easy.. Thank you for this post & good luck this spring if it ever arrives., Joe

    1. Joe, I love your analogy. Maybe some day I’ll be brave enough to post a video of me putting together a garden vignette. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

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