DIY Garden Sign Tutorial {Cardinal Cafe}

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Cardinal Cafe DIY garden sign project

This DIY garden sign was made entirely from items found around the house. I’ve listed complete instructions below. I had nick-named our garden The Cardinal Cafe after watching masses of birds appear each time I put out fresh food, so I thought it was time to put a sign up and make it official!

The secret ingredient for the lettering is a roll of pre-twisted rush (used for making rush seats). You can see it here on Amazon. I cut it to form the letters and attached it with upholstery tacks.

Supplies for DIY Garden sign project


  • Wood board (I used an old piece of pine barn board)
  • Pre-twisted rush (see it on Amazon)
  • (50) Upholstery tacs (black upholstery tacks on Amazon) – you may need more or less depending on which words you choose
  • Cardinal decoration
  • Twigs for the bird nest
  • (8) Cup hooks (see them on Amazon)
  • Garden decor – little watering can, doll-size garden bench, bird house, snowflakes, suet feeder. You may want eye hooks for hanging them on the cup hooks.
  • (2) 1/2 inch wood screws (attached to back of sign for hanging) and picture wire
  • (3) 1 inch wood screws (for hanging on fence)
  • (4) nails (for holding the bird nest twigs in place)


  • Scissors (for cutting rush)
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil, measuring tape
  • Level

Make a garden sign - free tutorial


After gathering your materials, the hardest part is deciding what you want the sign to say!

1. Pencil your saying on the wood. I used uppercase letters so there were minimal curves. Leave room for any decorations you want to attach (like the cardinal). If you make a mistake, just erase the pencil and start over.

DIY garden sign project - free tutorial

2. Cut out the rush using your pencilled letters as a measuring template.

3. Attach the rush using upholstery tacs.

Make a garden sign - Cardinal Cafe

4. Attach the decorations. I used an upholstery tack to attach the cardinal. And tacks and nails to form a little twig nest.

Cardinal Cafe - DIY garden sign

5. There’s lots of ways to hang the sign. I used picture wire and two screws on the back.
TIP: I used 3 screws (each 6″ apart) on the fence to keep the sign from shifting around. Use a level to mark where you want them.

6. Attach cup hooks to the bottom of the sign. I put a bunch so I can hang a variety of garden trinkets throughout the seasons.

Make a decorative garden sign - free tutorial

7. Add garden trinkets. Right now I have a little watering can, a doll-size twig bench, a bird house, snowflakes, and a fresh batch of “unsuet suet”.

Healthy bird treat - free recipe

I make this bird treat from peanut butter, shelled peanuts, and birdseed (see how to make it here - it’s fast and easy and the birds LOVE it). Truthfully, it’s the peanut butter that attracts the birds from miles around. It’s amazing how that scent travels!

Free tutorial - make a garden art sign - Cardinal Cafe

I’ll be changing my sign decorations as the seasons go. I’m thinking about adding another little sign from the cup hooks saying “All you can tweet”. We’ll see.

But Wait!There’s More!…
12 Garden Art Projects - all under $20 - free instructions
12 Garden art projects under $20 – get your ideas (with free instructions) here.

DIY Cardinal Cafe Garden Sign

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  1. Desiree Harding says

    This is absolutely perfect timing, Melissa. I have been wanting to try my hand at making a sign for our little cottage in Greyton, South Africa. Other than knowing I wanted it to be rustic and using found items, I wasn’t sure how yo go about it. You have given me some great inspiration with your gorgeous sign. Thank you so much!

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