These creative and frugal garden projects are the top picks of the year. Favourites include repurposed garden art, unique bird and butterfly feeders, one-of-a-kind plant containers, and water feature ideas.
For more top picks, also see these top picks: 20+ Best Creative Garden Art Projects of the Year.
Your Top Picks
These are the top projects of the year on Empress of Dirt. I started this tradition a few years ago: reviewing the year and seeing how many of my favourite projects were reader’s top picks too.
I start out each spring with a ridiculously long list of things I hope to get done, and it’s anyone’s guess if I’ll actually manage to do them. For as much as we plan, life does have a way of throwing some curveballs at us.
What pleases me the most this year is, I finally found time to make a few things I have had on the list for years. In some cases, many years! A long time ago, I started the habit of writing down ideas, no matter how ridiculous they sound they at the time. I find it so helpful and it does seem that the more you jot down, the more you dream up.
My absolute favourite this year is the one that makes me smile every time I step out into the garden: the giant bird’s nest on top of the shed. I first wanted to make one years ago, after watching an eagle building its nest. They carry huge tree branches across the sky, and lay them out on a tree top, creating a wide-open nesting spot, way up high. I don’t know why I found it so enchanting but, ever since then, I’ve wanted to build one myself (unfortunately, without being able to fly). I saved up fallen tree branches for a few years but I didn’t actually get cracking until I found some giant eggs to go with it. It was quite an adventure to hoist it up onto the shed—I probably should have assembled it there—but it was totally worth it. It’s definitely my personal favourite.
12+ Best Creative Garden Projects of the Year
If you are looking for some fun projects, these should give you plenty of ideas. And do let me know your favourites. I’ve already got a ridiculous number of new ones planned for the new year.
Repurposed Garden Art
Giant Allium Garden Art
It took a few tries to find the perfect materials for these giant alliums but once I found them, it was super easy.
DIY Garden Art Alliums – Free Instructions
Decorative Garden Balls
Decorative garden balls are an excellent starter project for garden art fans. Karen Weigert Enos takes them to the next level with these beautiful designs.
See Karen’s garden art | Free instructions for making garden balls
Giant Bird Nest
I made this nest to add a humorous touch to the top of my garden shed, but it turns out that a few different creatures liked it too. First, some Carolina wrens built their nest inside it, and later, a gray squirrel raised its young in there. In between, numerous birds and squirrels would sit up there, overlooking the garden. Who knew?
Free instructions for giant bird nest with eggs
Bird and Butterfly Feeders
Water Bottle Bird Feeder
I get a lot of goldfinches in my garden and these repurposed water bottle feeders are an inexpensive way to provide lots of feeding stations.
Bird & Butterfly Water Feeder
When I made this project, I knew the butterflies would use it, but I was not expecting so many birds to like it too. It’s hanging just a few feet off the ground from a tree branch and many of the little birds prefer it to getting water from the pond.
Floating Pond Planter
I saw these floating pond planters on garden tours and thought it would be fun to make a few for my pond. You can set pots of plants in them or add garden art.
This was the biggest project of the summer. Aquascape sponsored this project. I wasn’t planning on it, but, I soon discovered that I could indeed build the whole thing myself. And now I know all sorts of smart ways to move heavy rocks without really lifting them.
How I built this backyard pond by myself.
Growing Spaces & Containers
Raised Bed with Privacy Wall
After I built the garden pond, there was a perfect area next to the pond where I added a large raised bed with built-in privacy wall. It has provided a good gardening spot in the morning sun, and the wall adds much-desired privacy to the garden.
How I built this raised bed with privacy wall.
Rolling Strawberry Wheelbarrow Planter
I had a wheelbarrow with rust holes in the barrow, so I decided to turn it into a strawberry planter. I like how it keeps the strawberries off the ground, and, as the name says, I did end up rolling it to different parts of the garden as the sun changed over the growing season.
Free instructions for rolling strawberry wheelbarrow planter.
Staircase Plant Stand
There’s a simple trick to making this plant stand: use pre-made staircase risers. They are available at lumber shops. This stand works nicely to give plants equal access to the sun.
See the DIY staircase plant stand.
Bad Bird Feeder Good Flower Planter
This style of bird feeder can actually be quite dangerous for the birds. So, I turned it into a flower planter instead.
Free instructions for bird feeder flower planter.
Get yourself a bag of cement and spend an afternoon creating a collection of unusual garden containers.
It was a good year for creative gardening. If you have feedbacks or requests for new projects, let me know in the comments below.