Two Ways to Spruce Up Old Garden Planters

Don’t toss out old or worn out garden planters. Sometimes all it takes is a little makeover to breathe new life into them. For the crafty gardener, decorating is a fun and worthwhile project. Here are two techniques you can use to easily give planters an antique, rusted look or the bright and endless patterns of decoupage.

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Rusted Metal Look

Wrought iron and aluminum garden planters are some of the most beautiful and ornate looking models available in today’s market. However, they are also usually expensive, or if not, will start to rust before you know it. Even the top shelf planter models, coated rustproof sealant and zinc hardware, will one day or another also begin to rust. That is just nature’s way, and if you keep your garden planters outdoors, it’s something to expect. If your planter is already starting to rust, or else you just enjoy the look of antiquated rusted metal, like that which you might see on a weather vane or garden accent, here is a quick and easy technique for controlling the rust in your favor.

Materials:

  • table salt
  • water
  • a spray bottle

1. Starting out, it is much easier if the metal you are working with is not already coated with a rust-resistant sealant. If it is, this process will take a lot longer. If possible, either by hand or using an electric sander, attempt to slough off as much sealant as there is to expose the unfinished metal beneath.

2. Once the metal is smooth and clean, it’s time to make your saltwater solution. Using the ratio of approximately 1-2 tablespoons of salt per pint of warm water, fill up your spray bottle. Stir or shake the mixture in order to fully dissolve the salt.

3. Making sure your garden planters are outdoors and away from other metal objects, spray them down each day with the solution. Left outside, the planters will begin to rust over time due to oxygenation. Once rusting has begun, you can control just how rusty you want your planter to be by spraying more or less often.

4. Once your planters have reached your desired look, you may want to consider applying a coat or two of sealant on top to make sure that rusting does not continue.

Decoupage

Another fun and really easy way to decorate garden planters is with the arts and crafts hobby known as decoupage. From the French word “decouper” meaning to cut out, decoupage has been around as a handicraft for centuries. Even such acclaimed artists as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were known to dabble in the craft. For our purposes, we’ll keep things simple. Terra cotta and ceramics work best for this method, but don’t be afraid to play around with other materials if you’d like.

Materials:

  • Images/patterns
  • scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • craft glue
  • glue spreader
  • lacquer

1. Start by picking images and patterns you like from magazine, greetings cards, really anything you can think of. If the image is on a thick surface, make a color photo copy.

2. Next, using scissors, or an X-acto knife for detailed pictures, cut out your desired shapes.

3. Once you have enough images to cover the entire surface of the garden planters, affix pictures on using standard white glue or specialty craft glue.

4. Using a popsicle stick or brayer, smooth everything down and spread any uneven glue around using cotton swabs, a sponge or paint brush.

5. Finally, use a lacquer or sealant of some kind. Spray acrylics, Mod Podge and polyurethane work well. If you’re planning on using planters outdoors, apply a few coats of the strongest waterproof sealant you can find.

Tonya Kerniva is an experienced research and freelance writing professional. She writes actively about garden planters.

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