Backyard DIY décor: repurposed pallets and spoons

Joan Fieldstone

June 26, 2014

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Landscaping and Pools

As I stare down from my home office window to the patch of dirt I hesitate to call my yard, I am reminded that another spring and summer is going to pass me by without a patio or deck to enjoy these few deliciously warm months.

I asked the contractor who poured the foundations for the homes going up across the street how much he would charge for a plain concrete patio. (Yes, I'm that desperate for a way to cover the dirt with anything I don't have to water in a state where "irrigation" is a dirty word.) Unfortunately, even the "cheap" solution is still beyond what I can afford. Pavers are even more costly and beyond my physical capability to DIY. Artificial grass costs about as much as concrete and is only warrantied for about 10 years. Decomposed granite is what the HOA maintains in my front yard, and I've had it with pieces of rock coming into the house in the grooves of my sneakers. Maybe I should have left the weeds and just trimmed them down for a faux lawn. They seem to need no water or care whatsoever.

I guess I'll just have to envy my friends who are light-years ahead of me landscaping their yards. I'll also shamelessly borrow their stories of DIY backyard projects -- because like the proverbial lipstick on a pig, charming outdoor decor isn't going to change the fact that my yard is nothing but compacted builder's dirt and rocks.

Charm comes cheap: repurposing for pennies

Even if I had a truckload of nice topsoil, or potted plants and a paved patio, I would never be able to compete with my friend Anne's garden. She's a former 4-H member. I can't say I've ever successfully grown anything, much less shoveled manure to fertilize the veggies as she does -- and her veggies when they are ready for picking are delish.

She not only has that kind of green thumb, she can be found with green paint on her thumbs, too. She's very artsy-craftsy. So it's no surprise she recently posted some photos online of repurposed spoons and a wood pallet she and her boyfriend DIYed to add some charm to her already-landscaped yard. The spoons cost as little as 10 cents to under a dollar and the pallet was free.

Silver-spoon garden markers

Anne scoured thrift stores for inexpensive, silver spoons to repurpose into garden markers. She flattened the spoons and used felt-tipped markers to draw the labels on scrapbook paper. Then she super-glued the labels onto the business end of the spoons and coated them for water protection several times with mod podge, which requires only about a 45-minute wait between coatings but needs days to dry completely.

So, how does her garden grow? With pretty markers all in a row.

DIY plant markers

Small-pallet plant shelves

Anne's boyfriend has a job where he can get pallets from time to time, so he created this rustic display shelf for the yard from a small pallet.

DIY outdoor shelving

First the pallet had to be cleaned and sanded. He removed two boards, leaving the outer two boards and the one in the middle to form the four sections of the shelf.

Pallet shelves

Then, they applied wood stain with a roller and wiped off any excess. A clear finish protects it from sun and rain.

Anne filled the shelf with more thrift store finds and potted succulents to give a bare wall some character without a) breaking the bank and b) wasting money on objects of art that might get ruined by the elements.

Patios may not come cheap, but charm…priceless!

spoon garden sign

Photo credits: Anne Lundgren


  • Lynn Fraher says: 28 June 2014 at 1:06 am
    This is adorable and will be shared on the Third Thursday Thrive sustainability group Facebook page I hangar (if that's okay). Check us out. Miss you Joan, but don't miss the dirt storms in Nevada. Digin' the weather here in Hawai'i besides the occasional humidity (which three tears in Nevada certainly did not ready me for!)
  • Courtney Galler says: 17 February 2015 at 3:25 pm
    I loved the pallet idea, Joan. Do you have any suggestions concerning patio furniture? My husband and I want to do some refurbishing, and try some new things. We're thinking about different wood designs, but we're still not sure what to try. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. http://www.elegantoutdoors.com/patio-furniture-faq/
  • Nick Mayers says: 05 July 2016 at 5:01 am
    So sorry you don't have funds for your concrete patio. Have you even taught to make it on your own with help of your friends? Actually it is very easy process if you know how and you are not impatient to do it in one day. All materials and tools can be bout in do it yourself hardware stores for about 300$.
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