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Repurposing for the Garden

Buzzle Staff
Beautify your outdoor living area with stuff you already own. When your home is a crafter's paradise, who needs overpriced garden stores? Besides - you don't want the same ubiquitous patio furniture everyone else has, right?
Outdoor decor is expensive. A little bowl that might be $20 in home department costs $40 when sold in the garden department, where it is magically converted into a flower pot. With price gouging, beautifying outside area can be cost prohibitive for those who want more than white plastic chairs.
The solution is to use that big, creative brain of yours to take things from inside and put them to work outside. Most of the time only minor adjustments can turn them into hardy outdoor residents, and it will give your patio or garden a unique look that can only come from thinking outside the garden department.


Any concave object can become a planter or flower pot, so have fun with it. Large bowls of any material (although metal and ceramic hold up best) are typical, but why be typical?
Use old buckets and wash tubs to house larger plants, or situate a tub in the seat-frame of an old chair. As the plant blooms, the carved rails of the chair back lend a downright cottage-y feel, and the upright rails provide support for vines and climbing plants.
Don't forget about drainage - most plants are susceptible to root rot unless there is a way for excess water to leave the system. A drill with a 1/2-inch bit takes care of this fairly quickly - drill one hole for every four inches of surface area. Keep the holes about a half-inch wide though, or they can become clogged with dirt and debris.


Most indoor furniture can be successfully used outside, with few modifications and considerations. A fully upholstered piece won't fare well, but wood, wicker pieces with upholstered cushions will be fine, mainly in covered areas.
Wood, plastic and metal furniture work great and are very weather-resistant, but become even more charming and picturesque as the material weathers.
To make sure your furniture lasts outside, take a few precautions: cover all upholstered areas with outdoor fabric that resists moisture, mildew and mold. This fabric isn't necessarily plastic, either - it's sold under several brands, but they all feel like canvas or a heavy cotton duck, and they are available in a rainbow of colors and prints.
Give all wood furniture a coat of varnish, or rub bare wood with tung oil to help protect against moisture. Metal that's already powder coated will be fine, but keep bare metal well-oiled to prevent rust. Plastic furniture will be fine.


Before you discard old, stale decor you're tired of, give it a go in the garden. Large wall mirrors look great propped up against a fence and left to weather, especially if the surrounding plants begin to obscure part of it.
Your daughter may have outgrown all of her fairy figurines, but they're adorable when placed throughout the garden, hiding halfway under tomato plants.
Even mass-produced bargain-bin sculptural art takes on a whole new life when given a place of honor amidst the impatiens and azaleas. The key is to be selective, and place items carefully. Don't clutter up your yard - you should not be able to see every single piece from any one vantage point.

Miscellaneous Projects

Random things from around the house can turn into gorgeous works of craft pretty easily. Hammer some old silverware flat and turn it into wind chimes (these things cost upwards of $50 at specialty stores).
Have empty random wood boxes? Stand them on their sides and prop the door open - voila - instant bird house. Starting a vegetable plot? The drawer full of bamboo chopsticks from the Chinese takeout place are great plant markers - glue a square of balsa wood to the top for a large writing surface.
See? You didn't even realize you had all this stuff just hanging around. And with just the smallest bit of work, you now have the most adorable little yard on the block.