Create Garden Art with Recycled Materials

From bowling balls to bathroom fixtures, you'd be amazed what can be garden art.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Building REsources, www.buildingresources.org

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yaszum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Building REsources, www.buildingresources.org

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Building REsources, www.buildingresources.org

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Bowling Ball Sculpture

You can find used bowling balls at thrift stores to add color to your yard. Douglas Yaney of Yanzum Gardens, mounted bowling balls onto old copper pipes to create garden folk art.

Paneless Art

What to do with an old window frame? In this case, the gardener turned it into a piece of abstract art just by hanging it from an oak tree which in turn becomes more interesting when juxtaposed with lush vegetation and reclaimed junk.

Heater Grate Planter

A surprising array of items can be turned into garden planters: old tool boxes, junked cabinets, dressers and even heater grates like this one from an old San Francisco hotel that was demolished.

Totally Wired

Don't toss out that unused coil of heavy wire. You could transform it into a lion with a little imagination and the aid of some yellow spray paint.

Time Portal

Don't get rid of that old scuffed-up wooden door. Let it age gracefully outdoors while serving as a connection between the past and present in the form of a rustic garden gate.

Recycled Glass Wind Chimes

This colorful arrangement is made from flattened glass bottle tops: keep in mind that they can break easily. Unbreakable plastic is another, safer, option.

Buddha Shrine

"Stacked ceramic tiles make a terrific garden pedestal," says Doug Yaney. Clear evidence: this artful display that makes a discarded Chinese clay pot figurine into a showcase feature. "One very important warning," Yaney notes in his website description of this project, "Make sure you put down a solid level base first to make sure the stack stays perfectly perpendicular to the earth, otherwise it could end up leaning as the ground underneath it settles."

Create a Vertical Garden

This living wall was made by Remy Simpfenderfer of Building REsources in San Francisco. Some of the repurposed pieces include a boat ladder, a heater grate, a dry wall mud trough and discarded roofing tile with a wooden back added. Remy says, "I try to use things that are common, easy to find and, more importantly, the most likely to be heading to a landfill."

Tree Trunk Pedestals

Tree trunks are potential display supports for art objects. Florida gardener Doug Yaney says, "My neighbor was cutting down some dead palm trees, so I brought the sections home to use as garden pedestals. The white pieces are all made from plaster and will gradually deteriorate, making them even more interesting."

Garden of Earthly Delights

This visually arresting combination of materials includes bowling balls, clay pots and discarded wood. "I made the large pedestal using one of those cardboard forms from Home Deport," says Yaney. "I mixed in all the small scrap plastic I had been saving, like razor handles and expired credit cards. The large round thing is an upside down clay pot from China. The round woody piece is a hollowed palm tree section."

Decorating With Found Art

The mounted sculpture of the spider in its web was a gift to Doug Yaney from a Haitian art supplier. It had been made from an old oil drum and cut out by hand with a hammer and chisel. It makes an ideal art object addition to this green space.

Old Claw Foot

What to do with an old claw foot tub that nobody wants? Why not paint it red and position it in your garden so that it becomes a striking design element?

Completely Petrified

Sooner or later everyone ends up with a piece of petrified wood. It might look OK in an indoor display case but it makes a much stronger impression in a natural setting like a garden where it contrasts nicely with the surrounding organic matter.

Succulent Show-Off

This attractive makeshift planter was created out of discarded tiles from a kitchen remodel with the help of some faux wood and a strip of LED lights from a broken exit sign. The main floor tile was shaped with a heat gun and holes were drilled into it for the placement of succulent plants, according to Remy Simpfenderfer of Building REsources in San Francisco.

Red Trellis

You could spend a lot of money on a wrought iron trellis or arbor for your garden or you could create a more colorful one yourself out of discarded pieces of wood and paint it red.

Mirror Image

One way to create a sense of depth in your garden is to use mirrors like this intriguing placement of an old window frame with a mirror behind it so that it reflects the plants in front.

Garden Snail

Have some lumber scraps lying around the workshop or garage? Why not make some playful sculptural pieces out of them?

Bamboo Fun

Cinder blocks and painted pieces of bamboo and wood make offbeat urban garden art in this display that seems inspired by decorative totem poles.

The Traditional Bottle Tree

Save the most colorful and interestingly shaped bottles from your glass recycle bin and decorate a tree or bush with them, preferably one that is dormant in the winter or dead and too large to be easily dug up. 

Sink or Swim

A tree stump supports an abandoned bathroom sink which functions as a planter and a place to display an unusual piece of found art; in this case, a fish sculpture.

Surfboard Signage

When you can't think of another way to repurpose something—like a retired surfboard—you can always just repaint it and use it as a surface or object to display an amusing quote, cryptic message or in-joke.

For the Birds

Combining a discarded window frame with scraps of wood transformed into birdhouse ornaments results in a highly original garden sculpture.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Mix up some concrete, add bits of glass and stones for color, create some legs for the slab mixture out of oak limbs and what do you get? A unique garden table or maybe a great piece of homemade folk art.

Plywood Mermaid

In the right hands, plywood can become art. This aquatic beauty was constructed from painted plywood scraps, rope and seashells and brings a whimsical touch to this Florida garden.

Terracotta Highway

Florida gardener Doug Yaney created this homage to his friend Mary from terra-cotta tiles that were reclaimed from her front porch after it was remodeled by new owners. Says Yaney, "It reminds me of Mary every time I walk over it. So much of my garden is like that because it's filled with things that remind me of friends past and present." He adds, "All of the rocks lining the paths came from our local theatre when they tore up the floor to modernize the interior as they turned it into a multiplex."

Wall of Reclaimed Tile

If you have been saving up odd bits of ceramic tile and broken dishware over the years, waiting for inspiration to strike, here is an idea that might motivate you to start that pending art project. Gardener Doug Yaney, a resident of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, stated that this "mosaic wall was done by a local artist Bob Hudgins. He recently had a show here at the Hub Gallery. He said people give him ceramic tile, dishes, cups, etc., all the time because he does interesting things with it." 

Solid Blue

This path is set off by two blue concrete posts which once served as supports for a porch roof. Gardener Doug Yaney recolored them with watered down blue paint. The posts beyond them he suspects "were originally part of a telephone pole. Also, the large planter at the end of the walkway was given to me by neighbors from Austria. It used to be a fountain in their front yard, but they got tired of fiddling with the pump, so they asked me if I wanted it. The pathway is made from concrete pavers."

Torch and Welder Skills Required

"This was made by metal artist Richard Jacobus says gardener Doug Yaney. "It was made from two oil drum lids. He called it Marilyn Monroe," says Yaney.

Stone Snake

Rocks and stones add texture, color and interest to gardens but you can always be more creative in how you use them. Why not consider making free form ground sculptures out of them like this snake in the mulch?

Commode Redux

Yes, even discarded porcelain toilets can serve a purpose. If you have two of them you can create an instant bench. You might not want to put it in your front yard but in the backyard garden it becomes a funky objet d'art.