Upcycled garden ideas: easy DIY projects for your outdoor space

These simple upcycled garden ideas will spruce up your green space, from planter hacks to smart lighting

woman gardening in the sun and trying some upcycled garden ideas
(Image credit: Johner Images/Getty Images)

Want to turn a regular flower bed into something exceptional? These upcycled garden ideas will help you turn a discarded object into something new, fun and completely unique.

You can upcycle so many things these days—whether you prefer digging through upcycled fashion brands for some amazing style finds, or you love getting stuck into interior projects with some upcycled furniture ideas. The recent trend has, rightly, brought more awareness to innovation, and the pros of being environmentally friendly. After all, taking something old and making it into something new is vital to limiting waste, and it can be really fun just to use your creativity to design wonderful new things. 

So why not try out some of these brilliant upcycled garden ideas, to test your blooming creative abilities as the weather starts to warm up? You can try most of them in any outdoor space you have, whether you've got a spacious yard or a small balcony. 

Seven upcycled garden ideas to DIY at home

1. Flowering wheelbarrow

A flowering wheelbarrow is a great upcycled garden idea because it doesn't take much effort, and the result is incredible. 

If you try something like Garden Power Tools' Wheelie Barrow, all you have to do is tip your old (and probably rusted) wheelbarrow on its side, layer some rich soils halfway up the inside, and add your favorite flowers to the mix. Having your favorite flower colors spilling out of the wheelbarrow will add a lot of classic beauty to your outdoor space.

Consider reusing an old wheelbarrow over buying a new one. The great thing about upcycling is making use of the old to create something new. So resist any temptations to buy a new one at the store and use the rusted one in the back of your shed, one at a nearby yard sale, or ask around with friends and family. It'll give your creation more of a rustic look, too. 

2. Chair planter

A chair planter is one of the best upcycle ideas for your outdoor space, especially if you use an old rustic design. There are at least two great ways to make one. One way is specific to a wooden chair like Etsy's Flower Pot Holder Chair. Cut a hole in the middle of the wood seat (the size of the pot your plan to use), and place the pot in. Then, choose your favorite flower colors to contrast to the chair color and enjoy a beautiful setup.

If you have a metal chair, something like Garden Therapy's Succulent Planter Chair is a great option. Pots come in several sizes, and it's likely you already have the right size sitting around somewhere. If not, consider yard sales or resale sites first before getting a new one from a nearby store.

You may also want to consider adding a vibrant color pop by painting the chair with your favorite shade and adding a distressed look to it. Remember, while you are making old objects into new ones, you don't need to make them look sparkling new. The idea is to keep the rustic vibes while appealing to your own style.

3. Bicycle basket planter

Growing in popularity, bicycle basket planters are a very trendy addition to your garden. The most personality and character is found in the old, rustic bikes from back in the early and late 1900s. Today, many bike styles are covered in plastic designs with brand names embracing them from top to bottom. Older models, likely from your grandparent's younger days, are the real prize!

Position the bicycle in a strategic manner that complements your garden and fill the basket (the most important component) with your favorite colorful flowers. Before you know it, you'll add a little sunshine to an outdated and otherwise unused item.

If you don't have a bike lying around that you'd like to put to good use, think about asking friends and family if they have an old one they're considering throwing out. As always, when in doubt, yard sales and junkyards can be a gold mine for these kinds of trash-to-treasures. 

4. Burlap planter

One of our favorite upcycled garden ideas is taking any old pot and turning it into a fashionable accessory. But have you ever heard of turning a broken laundry basket, storage container, or spare fabric into a cute burlap planter?

It's an easy way to make use of an item that can't serve its intended purpose anymore and typically would be thrown away. Just grab some burlap, rope, hot glue, and your favorite blooms, and you'll have a completely new garden addition that will have friends asking for your gardening secrets.

Even better, burlap and rope can make anything old look brand new and fashionable. If you don't have a broken laundry basket on hand but want to upcycle other items into a stylish flower pot, go crazy! Depending on how much burlap you buy, you can cover up almost anything hard on the eyes and add flowers. Feel free to venture into new creations of your own. 

5. Solar light lamp jar

When you want to add a little light to your garden, an upcycled lamp like Green Owl Craft's Upcycled Mason Jar Solar Lights is a must. It adds an elegant touch to your garden, while also providing helpful and atmospheric lighting. It's fairly easy to put together when you have all the pieces and can be completely modified depending on your style, personality, and overall gardening theme. 

You can also use it on a rustic table next to an adorable little chair by the garden. There's no better place to rest after a long day with a book, music, or podcast than by your flower bed.

6. A dresser planter

Got an older dresser or wardrobe you're no longer using? Use it for something a little unexpected and create a fun yet elegant planter display in your outdoor space. 

You can dress it up (florally, of course), in a myriad of ways—and some of your favorite potted plants to the surfaces, or drape some hanging baskets or planters on the handles. You can even make use of the drawers to create sweet displays in—simply fill it halfway up with soil and plant some of your favorite flowers or plants that won't grow too tall for it!

Accessorizing is key for this upcycled gardening idea; don't forget to add trays, cute ceramic pots that much your overall style, and maybe even mirrors, which will help to make your space feel bigger. And once again, the key here is to add a dresser with a more distressed look, for that rustic outdoor feel. 

7. A ladder planter

A really fun and easy idea for jazzing up your garden this Spring is to use an old wooden ladder—and when we say old, we mean the older the better—and add your favorite potted plants and flowers on top of it.

One of the easiest upcycled garden ideas on our list, this option will take just minutes to set up and can be as simple or as decorative as you'd like. If your ladder already looks pretty rustic, you can go straight ahead and get set up. Or, you could paint yours instead, if you'd like to add even more color to your outside space.

Then, all you need to do is add your favorite plants or flowers to each rung of the ladder, starting with the smallest and adding the biggest ones to the top shelf. And there you have it!

These are only a handful of upcycled garden ideas you can consider when you want to revamp your flower bed and add more character. 

When you're ready to explore your creative side outdoors, think about shopping around yard sales and thrown-out furniture for more inspiration and ideas. In this case, the saying, "one person's trash is another person's treasure" is spot on. Don't be afraid to make something incredible.

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.