21 Inspiring Garden Junk Ideas to Transform Your Trash into Treasure

Have you ever looked around your yard and seen a pile of old tires, rusty tools, or discarded furniture and thought, “There’s just no way I can use that”? Well, think again! The world of garden junk is a treasure trove of creative possibilities, waiting to be transformed into charming and functional garden features. Not only does repurposing these forgotten items save you money and reduce waste, but it also adds a unique and personalized touch to your outdoor space.

Embracing the Magic of Garden Junk

Let’s face it, traditional garden stores can be expensive, and sometimes the generic planters and decorations lack a certain spark. But with a little imagination and some elbow grease, you can breathe new life into your garden using everyday objects that might otherwise be destined for the landfill. This approach to gardening isn’t just about saving money; it’s about embracing sustainability, fostering creativity, and adding a touch of whimsy to your outdoor haven.

21 Junk to Funk Garden Ideas

Ready to unleash your inner garden alchemist? Here are 21 inspiring ideas to get you started:

1. Repurposed Rain Barrels:

Drought is a growing concern in many parts of the world, and collecting rainwater is a fantastic way to conserve this precious resource.  Instead of buying a new rain barrel, consider giving a second life to a discarded item.

Material Options:  Look for large containers with a sturdy build, such as old washing machine drums, trash cans, or even water tanks.

Benefits:  Using rain barrels offers a multitude of benefits. You’ll save money on watering your plants, reduce your reliance on municipal water supplies, and provide healthier water for your blooms thanks to the absence of chlorine and other additives.

Creating a Rain Barrel System:  The process of creating a rain barrel system is relatively simple. Ensure the container you choose is clean and free of debris. You’ll need to install a spigot near the bottom for easy water access and drill overflow holes near the top to prevent the barrel from overflowing during heavy rain. Finally, connect a downspout diverter from your gutter system to the top of the barrel to collect rainwater.

2.  Tin Can Wind Chimes:

The gentle tinkling of wind chimes adds a touch of serenity to any garden. Why not create your own unique wind chimes using recycled tin cans?

Materials:  Gather a collection of tin cans in various sizes, string, beads, and a wind chime hanging mechanism (available at most craft stores).

Wind Chime Designs:  Get creative with your wind chime design! Use a can opener to punch holes in different patterns around the sides of the cans. The size and placement of these holes will determine the sound the wind chimes produce.

Decoration:  Don’t let your wind chimes be just about sound!  Personalize them with paint, washi tape, or decoupage techniques. You can even add small bells or other trinkets to the string for a touch of visual interest.

3.  Shoe Organizer Vertical Herb Garden:

Living in an apartment or having limited space shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the benefits of fresh herbs. A shoe organizer can be transformed into a fantastic vertical herb garden.

Vertical Gardening AdvantagesVertical gardens are a space-saving solution, perfect for balconies, patios, or smaller yards. They also offer easier maintenance as you can access all your herbs at eye level.

Shoe Organizer Transformation:  Choose an over-the-door shoe organizer with breathable mesh pockets. Line each pocket with a plastic liner or a piece of landscaping fabric to retain moisture. Mount the organizer on a sunny wall or fence, and fill the pockets with your favorite herbs!

Herb Selection and Care:  Opt for herbs that thrive in containers, such as basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, and chives. Ensure your vertical herb garden receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily and water regularly, allowing for proper drainage.

4.  Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders:

Attracting beautiful birds to your garden adds a touch of life and color. Upcycle plastic bottles into functional and attractive bird feeders.

Feeder Types: You can create different types of bird feeders using plastic bottles. Seed feeders are ideal for attracting a variety of birds, while hummingbird feeders require specific designs to accommodate their long beaks.

Feeder Creation:  Clean and dry a plastic bottle. Cut feeding holes near the bottom, ensuring they’re large enough for birds to access the seeds but not squirrels. Create a perch from a stick or a piece of dowel rod and secure it near the feeding holes. Hang the feeder from a tree branch or a sturdy post using string or wire.

Attracting Specific Birds: Fill your bird feeder with the right type of seed to attract the birds you desire. Black oil sunflower seeds are a favorite among many birds, while thistle seeds are specifically preferred by finches. For hummingbirds, create a sugar water solution (one part sugar to four parts water) and fill your feeder with it. Remember to clean and refill your bird feeders regularly to keep them fresh and attract feathered friends.

5.  Worn-Out Boot Planters:

Don’t toss those old, worn-out boots! They can be transformed into whimsical planters that add a touch of personality to your garden.

Boot Planter Charm:  Ankle boots, cowboy boots, or even rain boots can all be repurposed as planters. The worn and weathered look of old boots adds a unique rustic charm to your garden.

Drainage Solutions:  Drainage is crucial for healthy plants. If the boots you’re using don’t have drainage holes, carefully drill a few small holes in the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

Plant Selection:  Choose plants that complement the size and style of the boots. Smaller flowering plants, succulents, or herbs are all great options for boot planters.

6.  Broken Chair Plant Stand:

A broken chair doesn’t have to mean the end of its story!  Give it a new lease on life as a charming plant stand.

Chair Stand Versatility: Different chair designs can be repurposed into unique plant stands. Dining chairs can be used as single plant stands, while armchairs can hold multiple potted plants.

Upcycled Chic:  For a refreshed look, consider repainting the chair in a vibrant color or adding decorative stencils. You can even decoupage the chair with fabric or patterned paper for a touch of whimsy.

7.  Mismatched Teacup Fairy Garden:

Create a miniature wonderland in your garden with a mismatched teacup fairy garden.

Whimsical Retreat:  Gather a collection of mismatched teacups and saucers. These imperfections add to the charm of the fairy garden. Fill the saucers with potting mix and plant miniature succulents, ferns, or small flowering plants.

Fairy Garden Elements:  Add a touch of magic with miniature furniture, figurines, and decorative pebbles.  You can even create tiny pathways using decorative gravel or crushed seashells. Let your imagination run wild!

8.  Bathtub Mini Pond:

Transform an old bathtub into a mesmerizing mini pond, bringing a touch of tranquility to your garden.

Bathtub Transformation:  First, ensure the bathtub is free of cracks or leaks. You can patch any minor imperfections before proceeding.  Next, apply a sealant specifically designed for ponds to waterproof the bathtub interior.

Pond Life Considerations:  Choose suitable plants for your mini pond, such as water lilies, papyrus reeds, or oxygenating plants to maintain good water quality.  If you plan to add fish, ensure the pond is large enough to provide them with ample space. Research the specific needs of the fish you choose and ensure the pond provides the proper depth, water temperature, and filtration system.

9.  Wheelbarrow Flower Bed:

A rusty wheelbarrow can be transformed into a charming and functional flower bed.

Wheelie Good Planter:  A wheelbarrow offers a unique container for a variety of flowering plants. The rustic charm of the wheelbarrow complements a variety of garden styles.

Drainage Solutions:  As with other container gardens, drainage is crucial. Drill a few holes in the bottom of the wheelbarrow to prevent waterlogging.

Wheelbarrow Upcycling:  Consider giving your wheelbarrow a fresh coat of paint or adding decorative stencils to personalize it. You can even plant climbing vines around the handles for a trailing effect.

10.  Mason Jar Lanterns:

Mason jars are incredibly versatile and can be transformed into beautiful and functional lanterns for your garden.

Glowing Accents:  Mason jars come in various sizes, allowing you to create lanterns of different heights and styles. Fill the jars with fairy lights, tea lights, or even small solar lights for a warm, ambient glow.

Hanging and Illumination:  Attach string or wire to the jar lids for hanging. You can also group several mason jar lanterns together to create a stunning centerpiece for your patio or deck.

Decorative Touches:  Personalize your mason jar lanterns with paint, washi tape, or decoupage techniques. You can even add decorative stones or pebbles inside the jar for a unique look.

11.  Tin Can Luminaries:

Upcycle old tin cans into charming pathway lights that add a touch of whimsy and illuminate your garden at night.

Pathway Illumination: Clean and dry your tin cans. Use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the sides of the cans in various patterns. The pattern you create will determine the light design projected onto the pathway.

Light Source:  Place a tea light or a small solar light inside the tin can. Solar lights are a more eco-friendly option and provide long-lasting illumination throughout the evening.

Stability and Placement:  For pathway lighting, secure the tin can luminaries to metal stakes or poles pushed into the ground along your desired path. You can also place them on flat surfaces like patios or decks, adding a decorative touch.

12.  Pallet Garden Furniture:

Pallet furniture is a trendy and sustainable way to add seating, tables, and planters to your garden.

Pallet Project Ideas:  With a little creativity, you can transform wooden pallets into a variety of garden furniture pieces. Coffee tables, benches, and even planter boxes are all achievable projects using recycled pallets.

Disassembly and Preparation:  Disassemble the pallets carefully, removing any loose nails or staples. Sand down the wood to create a smooth finish and prevent splinters.

Design and Assembly:  There are numerous online resources and tutorials available for pallet furniture design and assembly. Choose a project that suits your skill level and the needs of your garden space.

13.  Old Ladder Plant Stand:

A sturdy old ladder can be given a new purpose as a unique plant stand.

Ladder Stand Versatility:  Step ladders, extension ladders, or even leaning ladders can all be repurposed into plant stands. The number of rungs on the ladder will determine how many plants you can display.

Stability Matters:  Ensure the ladder is secure and stable before placing plants on it. You can lean the ladder against a wall or fence for added stability.

Plant Display Options:  Attach shelves to the ladder rungs for additional plant display space. Alternatively, hang planters from the rungs using S-hooks or macrame plant hangers.

14.  Wine Bottle Tiki Torches:

Create a tropical atmosphere in your garden with tiki torches made from recycled wine bottles.

Tiki Torch Ambiance:  Wine bottles come in various colors, adding a decorative element to your tiki torches.  Clean and dry the bottles thoroughly before using them.

Filling and Lighting:  Fill the bottles with tiki torch fuel, following safety instructions carefully. Insert a tiki torch wick into the bottle opening and light it for a flickering flame that creates a warm and inviting ambiance.

Decorative Touches:  Personalize your tiki torches by painting the bottles with tropical patterns or adding raffia skirts around the base for a more authentic tiki vibe.

15.  Broken Mirror Garden Mosaic:

Transform broken mirror pieces into a stunning mosaic art piece for your garden.

Mosaic Magic:  Gather broken mirror pieces in various sizes and shapes. You can also use leftover tiles or other reflective materials for added texture.

Backing Choice:  Choose a suitable backing for your mosaic artwork. Cement board or a sturdy piece of wood are both good options. Ensure the backing is weatherproof to withstand outdoor elements.

Arranging the Pieces and Grouting:  Arrange the mirror pieces on the backing to create your desired design. Once you’re satisfied with the layout, secure the pieces with adhesive suitable for outdoor use. After the adhesive dries completely, apply grout between the mirror pieces to fill any gaps and create a finished look.

16.  CD Case Bird Feeders:

Upcycle old CD cases into eco-friendly bird feeders that attract birds with their reflective surfaces.

Second Life for CDs:  Clean and dry the CD cases before using them.  On the clear plastic side of the case, punch small holes near the bottom, large enough for birdseed to dispense but not squirrels.

Feeder Functionality:  Attach a string or wire to the top of the CD case to hang it from a tree branch or a sturdy post. Fill the inside of the case with birdseed and watch as feathered friends flock to your recycled feeder.

Reflective Appeal:  The reflective surface of the CD case can attract birds, especially when sunlight hits it at different angles.

17.  Discarded Tire Swing:

Give a new lease on life to an old tire by creating a fun and sturdy swing for your garden.

Swinging Fun:  Ensure the tire you choose is in good condition and free of any cracks or bulges. Thoroughly clean the tire to remove any dirt or debris.

Safety First:  Securing the tire swing is crucial. Choose a sturdy tree branch that can support the weight of the swing and the user. Use thick rope or chains specifically designed for swings and ensure they are securely attached to both the tire and the tree branch. Double-check all connections before allowing anyone to use the swing.

Comfy Seat Options: There are several ways to create a comfortable seat for your tire swing. You can simply loop a thick rope through the tire’s center hole for a basic swinging experience. For added comfort, consider weaving a fabric sling or attaching a wooden platform to the bottom of the tire.

Age-Appropriate Considerations: When designing your tire swing, consider the age and size of the intended users.  For younger children, ensure the swing hangs at a lower height and utilize a more secure seat option like a fabric sling with a back support.

18.  Old Colander Herb Drying Rack:

Repurpose a colander into a functional and stylish herb drying rack.

Colander Transformation:  A colander’s design makes it perfect for air-drying freshly harvested herbs. Ensure the colander is clean and free of any rust or deterioration.

Air Circulation:  For optimal drying, choose a location with good air circulation and indirect sunlight. Hanging the colander is ideal, but you can also place it on a flat surface with good airflow.

Drying Tips:  Wash your herbs thoroughly and pat them dry before placing them in the colander. Arrange the herbs in a single layer, ensuring there’s enough space between them for proper air circulation. Depending on the herb variety and weather conditions, drying time can take several days.

19.  Gutter Garden:

Don’t toss those old gutters! They can be transformed into a unique vertical garden for your patio, fence, or wall.

Vertical Greenery:  Gutter gardens are a space-saving way to grow a variety of plants. They’re perfect for small balconies, patios, or areas with limited ground space.

Gutter Attachment:  Secure the gutters to a fence, wall, or another sturdy structure using appropriate brackets. Ensure the gutters are positioned with the open side facing downwards to allow for proper drainage.

Plant Selection:  Choose drought-tolerant plants that thrive in containers for your gutter garden. Herbs, succulents, and certain flowering plants are all excellent options. Line the gutters with a weed barrier fabric before adding potting mix to prevent soil erosion and weed growth.

20.  Vintage Suitcase Planter:

Transform a vintage suitcase into a charming planter that adds a touch of personality to your garden.

Suitcase Charm:  Vintage suitcases come in various sizes and styles, offering unique options for your planter. A weathered suitcase adds a touch of rustic charm, while a brightly colored one can create a vibrant focal point in your garden.

Drainage Solutions:  Drainage is crucial for healthy plants. If the suitcase you’re using doesn’t have drainage holes, carefully drill a few small holes in the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

Planting Options:  Lining the suitcase interior with plastic sheeting or a piece of landscaping fabric can help retain moisture. Alternatively, you can use a smaller pot inside the suitcase and fill the remaining space with decorative pebbles or moss. Choose plants that complement the size and style of the suitcase.  Small flowering plants, succulents, or trailing vines are all great options.

21.  Bicycle Wheel Plant Stand:

Give a new purpose to an old bicycle wheel by transforming it into a unique plant stand.

Wheelie Good Display:  A bicycle wheel adds a touch of whimsy and industrial charm to your garden. Ensure the wheel is sturdy and free of any rust or damage.

Hanging or Mounting:  There are two options for displaying your bicycle wheel plant stand. You can hang it from a sturdy hook or beam using strong rope or wire.  Alternatively, you can secure it to a wall or fence using metal brackets.

Plant Display Options:  Depending on how you choose to display the wheel, there are different ways to utilize it as a plant stand. For a hanging display, you can attach planters directly to the spokes of the wheel  or use macrame plant hangers to suspend pots from the rim. If the wheel is mounted on a wall, you can create shelves from wood or wire mesh to display potted plants on different levels.


The world of garden junk is brimming with creative possibilities. By giving these forgotten items a second life, you’re not just saving money and reducing waste, you’re also adding a unique and personal touch to your outdoor space. So, the next time you encounter an old tire, a broken chair, or a discarded bottle, don’t be so quick to throw it away! With a little imagination and some elbow grease, you can transform it into a charming and functional treasure for your garden. Remember, the possibilities are endless when it comes to garden junk!