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Upcycled Vintage Garden Decor

I’ve always had a soft spot for using vintage pieces and antiques in my gardens. Even before I had my own gardens, pictures of upcycled vintage garden decor would speak to me. I think it’s the joy of taking that vintage item and pairing it with brightly colored flowers that keeps me doing it. Visiting flea markets, estate sales, antique shops, thrift stores, and yard sales looking for vintage finds that I can add to my gardens has become a side hobby for hubs and me. And, I’m excited to show you some of my vintage treasures!

Recently updated with lots more ideas!

So what is upcycled vintage garden decor? It’s taking vintage pieces not originally intended for use in the garden and bringing new life into them. And then adding those unique pieces to your gardens and outdoor spaces. It’s not just about sustainable living, it’s about creating a space that is full of personality and beauty, and a space that you love. 

I realize this type of garden decor isn’t for everyone. I think there’s a fine line between adding some whimsy and making things look junkie. In my gardens, I draw the line at using bathroom pieces or car parts. Haha! Really though, everyone has their own style and as long as it includes flowers, I love it! Creating these fun little vignettes brings out my creative side and I like to see what I can come up with and how I can use the same piece in different ways from year to year.

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The Best Vintage Garden Decor Ideas

I have lots of ideas both from my gardens and from other gardens that I’ve visited, so let’s dive right in. 

Up first is this sweet grouping featuring a replica of a vintage iron gate. I looked and looked for a real vintage gate like this one, but the prices were ridiculous, so I settled for a replica and it’s a great addition to my gardens. My daughter and I made the sign from an old piece of cedar fencing. The milk can and the galvanized watering can were flea market finds. I usually pick up wicker baskets for use in my gardens at thrift stores.

Image of an Old Garden Gate with flowers and vintage items

Here’s the same garden gate a few years later styled completely different.

Vignette featuring a garden gate and vintage milk can in a flower garden.

Use Old Chairs in the Garden (even if they are broken)

An old chair with a pot of flowers sitting on it makes a charming focal point in a garden. I purchased this old chair several years ago from an antique store. The salesperson was so shocked that I wanted it even though it didn’t have a seat. I could have fashioned a planter into the seat where the caning was missing, but I never did. I think I paid two or three dollars for it.

It had a place in my gardens for several years until it finally fell apart. I even gave it a paint job to extend its life. Of course, wood chairs will not last forever in outdoor elements, but they will last several years.

The plants in the galvanized container include caladium, impatiens and creeping jenny. The plants around the bottom of the chair include; Ivory Halo Dogwood, Coleus, Pulmonaria (lungwort) and foxglove (I wish they were blooming, maybe next year.)  

Just a side tip: The Creeping Jenny plant is a perennial in Zone 4, so I dig it out of all my planters and plant it in the ground in the fall, and then I don’t have to buy new plants in the spring.

Vintage Chair in the Garden

And because I love it so much, here is the same chair in my gardens another year. I added a cute sign and some faux birdhouse stakes from my decor collection to create a cute display.  

Image of an old chair, faux birdhouse stakes and a sign in a garden.

Because chairs look so cute in flower gardens, I found a new old one and painted it bright pink.

Bright pink chair with a pot of flowers sitting on it pictured in a flower garden.

Love these ideas? Save them to Pinterest for later.

Images of rustic garden decor with text overlay - Upcycled Vintage Garden Decor

Old Ladders in the Garden

My old ladder is another one of my favorite upcycled vintage garden decor pieces. I picked this ladder up at an estate sale several years ago and have used it in my garden every summer. Wicker baskets can always be picked up cheaply at garage sales and thrift shops, and they make the best repurposed planters. I just style the ladder with small plants and small thrifted items that I have in my stash.
Vintage Ladder in the Garden
This little step ladder used to be my Dad’s and I love using it on my tiny front porch to add some welcoming charm.

Image of step ladder decorated with flowers

This next grouping is a great example of how you can use junk in your yard to make garden decor. Logs come in very handy if you need to add height to a container, or to use as a table.  My hubby made the ladder out of tree limbs from our yard. If you’d like to learn how to make your own wood ladder from tree limbs, check out Easy DIY Garden Decor Using Tree Branches

Garden Vignette with Ladder Made from Tree Limbs

Upcycled Antiques in the Garden

Antique milk cans are readily available at flea markets and I’ve had this one for several years. It was pretty ugly when I brought it home, but I knew I could fix it with a can of spray paint. I find a place for it in my gardens every year.

Vintage Milk Can as a Flower Planter

The old, blue milk can is getting chippy, but that just adds to its character. In the photo below, it holds a pot of lantana.

Old blue milk can holding a pot of lantana flowers

Old Bikes Can Add So Much Charm to a Flower Garden

Old bicycles make such a statement in a flower garden and are a great way to add some charm. This sweet ride was found on Craigslist. The lady I purchased it from thought I was going to ride it, so she told me where I could get the tires aired up. Little did she know… I dreamed about this very vignette ever since we moved to this house and I was so happy the year I was finally able to make it happen. 

Vintage Bicycle in the Garden

It’s so cute I can hardly stand it. Every year it leans up against this tree, just as I imagined. Below the bike is back again a few years later with the perennials filling in nicely.

Vintage Bike in a Garden

Sadly, the old tree was sick and had to come down, but I found a new spot for my old bike up against the fence. Our resident squirrels thought it would be a good idea to eat the seat off of the bike. True story!

Old bike in a flower garden.

My neighbor friend and gardener like to exchange yard art ideas. Below is here charming bicycle using a bushel basket as a planter. So cute!

Old bicycle with flowers in a basket.

Galvanized Washtubs in the Garden

A garden is the perfect place to upcycle an old galvanized washtub. They make the most charming vintage garden decorations and serve a purpose as beautiful planters too.

This old galvanized washtub was picked up at a flea market many years ago and it makes an awesome and practical garden planter. The pump is another flea market find and it underwent a spray paint makeover. 

Galvanized Tub with Flowers and a Vintage Pump - Upcycled Vintage Garden Decor

See how we turned a galvanized washtub and the antique water pump into a water fountain planter in this post

I used a galvanized tub as a planter to cover a tree stump in one of my flower gardens. Again, hubs made the super cute faux birdhouse stakes from fallen tree limbs in our yard. 

Vintage Washtub Planter

While I’m on the topic of old vintage washtubs, my neighbor is letting me share her washtub hanging on a shepherd’s hook. I love it and someday I want to try doing this with an old washtub.

Vintage Washtub Planter on Shepherd's Hook

Wheelbarrows as Garden Planters

Wheelbarrows makes the best rustic planters. Just be sure to add some drainage holes if yours doesn’t already have them. Plants just go crazy in them. This wheelbarrow is full of coleus, impatiens, vinca vine, a fern), a begonia and caladium.

Uncycled Vintage Wheelbarrow Used as a Planter

The old wheelbarrow planter is so full that it’s hard to tell it’s an old rusty wheelbarrow. 

Wheelbarrow Used as a Planter - Upcycled Vintage Garden Decor

My creative friend also has a dressed up wheelbarrow planter in her garden.

Rusty wheelbarrow as a flower planter.

More Upcycled Vintage Garden Decor Ideas

My old potting bench isn’t vintage, my hubs actually made it, but I can dress it up to look vintage by adding vintage garden tools, old clay pots and other vintage items to it. Not only is it cute, it works well as its intended purpose in my vegetable garden area.

 

Old potting bench with clay pots and other gardening junk.

I may have an obsession with old watering cans, and they are hardly ever used for their intended purpose. Watering cans that leak make the best rustic planters.

Cute display of a vintage galvanized watering can, a galvanized planter and lantern on a rustic bench.

Never toss out an old mailbox. Spray paint it and add it somewhere in your gardens. Not only does it add character, you can store extra garden tools in it.

An old mailbox spray painted yellow in a flower garden.

Farmhouse Antiques in the Garden

Old garden tools and farm equipment look so charming in a garden. Here’s a chicken feeder made into a planter. How cute is this?

Antique chicken feeder used as a flower planter.

I found this old spreader at a barn sale and knew it would make a unique planter for my garden. I lined it with landscape fabric to help hold in the soil. You could also use a fiber mat. 

Lawn spreader turned into a planter in a garden.

Don’t toss those old broken gardening tools. Upcycle them! I used this old broken rake to hold one of my favorite garden signs.

Garden sign hanging on an old rake.

This old rusty shovel was my dad’s. I was pretty sad when the handle broke but we repurposed it into a rustic garden sign. I love it!

Flower garden featuring an old shovel turned into a garden sign that says I Dig Dirt

Nothing vintage about this next little vignette, but I think it’s cute. And this little yellow watering can is one of my all-time favorite thrift store finds and it finds a place in my garden decor every year. It’s the perfect example of using cute little nothings in your gardens to add character.

Watering Can with Cosmos and Gazanias

The little yellow watering can another year hanging from a shepherd’s hook. If you hang around Gingham Gardens for long, you’ll see it in lots of my pictures.

Bright yellow decorative watering can hanging from a shepherd's hook over a colorful flower planter.

Thanks a bunch for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I hope you enjoyed all the upcycled vintage garden decor ideas. Perhaps you’re walking away with some ideas to add some whimsy and character to your own gardens.

Shop the look:

If you’d like to see more of my junk garden decor, check out Garden Vignettes Using Flea Market Finds and Garden Decor (Lots of Creative Ideas for Your Garden).

With a little creativity, you too can add some timeless charm to your gardens with upcycled vintage garden decor. How about scrolling back up and saving some of your favorite ideas to Pinterest. There are also some pinnable collages below. 

Happy gardening,
Julie

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Image of a bicycle in a garden with text overlay - 29 Charming Ideas to add Character to your Garden

54 Comments

  1. I have added some vintage items in my gardens over the years but I’m happy that I discovered your site last year and enjoy all your ideas and sharing. I have one major question.- do you drill holes in your galvanized tubs so there’s drainage for the plants? I have one but have been hesitant to drill holes in it.

    1. Hi Trish – thank you for stopping by Gingham Gardens. Yes, I always drill holes in anything I’m going to plant in. I know that in my gardens, galvanized washtubs will only be used as planters, so yes, I drill drainage holes in them. Happy gardening, Joanna

  2. I love all your unique ideas
    So creative thx for sharing
    I really enjoy gardening and it’s kind of Therappy for me
    My only problem is lack of time but with busy life I go to my front and back yard everyday even for few minutes it gives me energy and inspiration

    1. Hi there – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens to check out our upcycled vintage garden decor. We have lots of garden art ideas using vintage items. Stop back soon! Happy gardening, Joanna

    1. Hi Ruth, thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I plant directly in my wheelbarrow and washtubs, and they have lasted for many, many years. You will need to drill holes for drainage in the bottom of your items though. Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

  3. Joanna,
    Love looking at all you beautiful gardens! You really inspire me to be more creative in my back yard. Little by little I’m getting there this spread kinda hard to get the flowers I wanted. That’s when you become creative, it’s been fun!

  4. Love, Love, Love your ideas. I started a garden this year as a tribute to my mother. She had the prettiest garden ever and people came over all the time to admire and she’d give them a tour. I have added some whimsy but just got inspired to do more. Thanks for all the great ideas!!!

  5. Did you put a flower pot with flowers on top of your milk can? Mine has a rounded top with a handle which are hard to come by. I could remove the top, but dont want the inside of the milk can to get rusty. Just recently found your blog through pinterest and love your beautiful garden!! Am just now starting on my backyard as we recently moved and am getting so confused!!!!

    1. Hi Jeannie – I’m so happy you found Gingham Gardens. For my big blue milk can I sit a planter right inside the opening. I’m not too worried about rust. I’ve had my for about 6 or 7 years and it’s solid and holding up fine with minimal rust. In order to get a pot to stay sitting on top of the milk can, you’d have to think it through and get creative. As far as your backyard goes start with one area and focus on that instead of looking at the entire yard and becoming overwhelmed. Even if you aren’t a beginner gardener, there are some great tips in https://ginghamgardens.com/flower-gardening-101/
      Start small and have fun. And just remember with gardening, if you don’t like where you planted something, you can always move it. Stop back soon and happy gardening! Joanna

    2. Hi Jeannie:
      Maybe you could build the top of the can up so it would be level enough to sit a pot on. Just a suggestion. I have a can but it is flat on top.

      1. Try a saucer that is
        Big enough to sit on top and then put a pot in the saucer! No water in and saucer catches the excess❤️

        1. That’s exactly what I do with mine. Helps also keep plant wet from the sauce. Plus the tops on my milk cans are on hard. Thankfully mine are in pristine condition. I have them outside now so we’ll see! You have some great ideas. Thanks for ideas for next year.

          1. Hi Patti – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. The idea of using a saucer on top of your vintage milk can works really well. Stop back soon. Happy gardening, Joanna

  6. Pingback: 35+ Charming Bicycle Planter Ideas For Your Backyard You'll Love
  7. Love your garden. Thanks so much for sharing at the To Grandma’s House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and More Link Party! Pinned this! Hope to see you link up again this Wednesday!

  8. I just love all your vintage garden vignettes! Lots of good ideas and inspiration. I too finally got a bicycle for my garden in my favorite color, aqua.

  9. Joanna, Your garden is so interesting with conversation pieces everywhere. How fun to collect and add to it frequently. I need some whimsy in my garden. My problem is when I like something I get disappointed when things rot or fall apart. I want things to last forever.I’ve repainted and replaced the slats on my benches two or three times already.
    Inspiring post.

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. Some of my old stuff will last forever. That old milk can is heavy steel. My ladder, on the other hand, is starting to rot on the bottom of the legs. Oh well. Happy gardening!

  10. Joanna, I always look forward to seeing what vintage pieces you have added to your garden. You really are a master at adding just the right “stuff”. I love the ladder your hubby made, and the old milk can. The pop of color on the chair is perfect. The vintage bicycle is a great addition to your lovely garden space. Every salvaged piece is just right for your gardens. Thank you for sharing at Gardens Galore!

  11. Joanna – I love it all, especially the bicycle. I have an old ladder like yours that I pick up along the road, it was out for the trash. I used it for a while and the past few years it hasn’t come out. You have given me renewed inspiration for it. Thank you for that and for a great post! Visiting was a treat!

    1. Sandra, thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments. I’m always happy to inspire. Happy gardening and junking.

    1. Hi Trisha – thanks for stopping by! Isn’t it so fun – gardening and getting creative with the decor. I love it! Happy gardening and happy junking!

  12. I love the red bike! I just did one yellow this summer too. One of my favorite reasons to look out and admire my backyard. I like the chair and buckets and barrels and wheel barrow. You’ve done a lot of great pieces and should be very proud of your work!Very inspiring to keep working even on the super hot days.

    1. Hi there and thanks for stopping by. I took a peek at your yellow bicycle and it’s super cute. Thanks again and happy gardening (and crafting).

      1. Joanna your gardens are lovely. I have added a few accessories to my garden and have more to add. Just wish our summers were longer. I have a red bike and a blue bike. The blue and white bike is my original bike from when I did not drive. The red one was my brother-in-laws and we are both in our late seventies and late eighties. They were made when things were made to last. Not plastic.
        You do a wonderful job at decorating. Thanks for all the lovely pictures and for inspiring me to keep going on my flower and veggie gardens.
        Think my next plant will be the strawberry candy reblooming daylily. I am like you I love lilies. There are so many beautiful flowers. Thanks again for all you do and for sharing.

  13. Good afternoon, There is something special & romantic about a bicycle in the garden. The old style ladies bicycles ,like yours, with fenders , chain guard & original paint look terrific. The basket of flowers is the perfect accessory. I have my wife’s 1960’s era bicycle & I am going to try to emulate your design.
    Thank you for your post & good luck, Joe

    1. Hi there, Joe. I think that’s a great idea! Your wife’s bicycle would pair perfectly with your cottage garden style. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Oh my goodness I love your garden! I think you really would have enjoyed my vintage garden tour too! We seem to like a lot of the same things! Found you via Feathered Nest Fridays. You are always welcome to come link up your posts at Thursday Favorite Things too. The party goes live every Thursday morning at 9:00-Saturday at midnight. Hope you can join us!

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Amber, I’m happy you found me. Yes, I loved the vintage garden tour you hosted a few weeks ago. I visited all the various gardens, including yours and even left you a comment. I love gardening and junking, and it’s so fun to intertwine the two. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!

  15. I may just need to pick up an old bicycle the next time I visit the flea market, assuming I get get my husband on board. He’s always worried about junking up the garden too much.

    1. Hi Rebecca – most of my junk gardening is in our back yard. My hubby is fine with it, but I do joke sometimes that I’m going to put a toilet in the front yard and fill it with flowers. Start slow with some galvanized buckets, and then maybe a wheelbarrow, you’ll win him over. Happy gardening and junking!

  16. I love it ALL!!! I love to use different items throughout my garden as well. Thanks you have given me some great ideas!

    1. Wow, what a compliment, Shelly! I’m happy to inspire you. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!

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