DIY yard prettification projects: From trash to treasure

You don’t need expensive antiques to do do-it-yourself décor with a back story, especially if you’re furnishing an area exposed to the elements. Instead consider salvaging unwanted objects and transforming them into yard ornaments. 

“Besides the usual suspects like flea markets and the free section on Craigslist, you can source inspiring materials from construction sites or by asking friends if they know anyone renovating their home and getting rid of things,” Kevin Pleasants, DIY expert at, tells Real Estate.

Then all you need are some power tools, or at least the scissors and super glue. 

Tractor Tire Goldfish Pond

In western Missouri, a tire that once mobilized a massive tractor is now home to a small family of Koi fish. You can go out and tear down your own tractor, or you can take a short cut. “We went to the local John Deere Company and they gave us an old worn out tire. Even loaded it onto the pickup for us,” says the Missouri couple who installed the tractor tire pond in their front yard. Start by digging a level hole for the tire. If you want a wider diameter for your pond, use a scroll saw to trim the tire’s inner edges. Next, fit a liner over it and use stones or gravel to cover any exposed liner on the outside. Finally, fill with water and use any remaining time and budget to incorporate plants, fish and even underwater lights.

Clawfoot Tub Couch

A clawfoot tub couch was featured in the first season of DIY Network’s “Salvage Dawgs,” but most people would probably recognize the one from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Holly Golightly’s settee was simple: one cushion and two throw pillows. Still, Robert Kulp, co-host of “Salvage Dawgs” and co-owner of Black Dog Salvage says it’s fulfilling to put your own funky twist on the project. Paint the tub, install a back cushion for added comfort, or even go crazy with the angle grinder (the best tower tool for cutting tub sides) and create a chaise lounge. Whatever you do, make sure to remove the feet and sandblast the tub before sawing or painting. Sand the rough edges left after cutting, paint if desired, re-attach the feet and then top with weather-resistant cushions and pillows.

Bohemian Sunset Tiffany Roses Chandelier

The first step for creating this stunning chandelier is going for a hike. Dalel Snider, designer and owner of Glendora Florist, suggests hitting the trails to collect wild flowers, branches, vines, moss and lemon leaves to compliment the roses. The more imperfect and organic the materials, the more Bohemian the end result. Then it’s time to weave your bounty together into a wreath by twisting and turning the pieces around wire. No need to go out and buy new wire. See what you have lying around in your garage. Finally, attach the roses upside down to the wreath and find a high traffic area to hang it–after a hike and all that hard work you’ll be hungry for compliments. 

Table Leg Bird Bath

Before taking that old table to the curb, ask yourself if you could use a creative yard ornament that attracts, and serves, winged wildlife. Luis Leonzo, product manager at Table Legs Online, suggests using an old wooden table leg to serve as the base of a DIY birdbath. For the bath part, borrow an old plate or a shallow bowl from your pantry. Then, screw a wooden platform to the top of the table leg to serve as a base for the bath. Finally, using an exterior grade adhesive such beautiful gardens as caulk or LIQUID NAILS, attach the bath to the platform. Fill with water, admire your work and wait for the birds to land. 

Binder Birdhouse

After their bath, the birds may want a place to sleep. Ironically, this idea comes from an inner city organization. New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ Materials for the Arts collects leftover office supplies and provides them to public schools for art classes. To make this birdhouse, you’ll need a large binder, utility knife, foam core (for the roof), packing tape, glue and a ribbon for hanging it. Use the utility knife to score the binder flaps straight across so you can fold and tape them together for green energy the floor. The top of the binder will be the ceiling. Decorate as desired. While it’s not the most beautiful of birdhouses, it’s a fun project to do with kids who are garden equipment ready to retire that History binder.

Wine Box Herb Bed

This herb planter project doesn’t actually require much deconstructing. Unless you start with a full wine crate in which case you’ll need to plants drink a few bottles. Otherwise, dumpster dive at local wine shops until you find an empty wooden crate in good condition. Kerry Kobe, the owner of Sweet Sanity, says it’s critical to drill plenty of holes in the bottom of the crate so you have sufficient drainage. Next, use a clear sealant to waterproof the crate while preserving the character of the wood. Allow the sealant to dry overnight and then add soil and herbs. In no time you’ll have seasoning for your favorite dishes. Pair with wine.

Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she’s energy providers not working, she’s chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.


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