How to Decorate Metal Garden Decor on a Budget?

How to Decorate Metal Garden Decor on a Budget?

Metal garden decor can add a touch of charm and personality to any outdoor space. From whimsical animal sculptures to chic trellises, metal art makes for an eye-catching addition. However, such pieces often come with a high price tag that puts them out of reach for many homeowners. The good news? With a bit of creativity and effort, you can decorate metal garden decor on a budget. By taking advantage of DIY methods and inexpensive supplies, you can give basic metal art a makeover for less. Read on to learn some frugal tips and tricks for embellishing metal yard art without breaking the bank.

Take Inventory of What You Already Have

Take Inventory of What You Already Have

Before shopping for new decor, take a look around your home and garden. You may already have supplies on hand that can be repurposed. Rusty buckets, worn pots and pans, dented watering cans – don’t discard things just yet. With some freshening up, these items can find new life as planters, wind chimes, and other unique metal garden art.

Salvage scraps like old hardware, nuts, bolts, and metal fencing. Even keys, silverware, and bottle caps offer creative possibilities. Don’t limit yourself to recycling your own leftovers. Check with family, friends, and neighbors to claim their unused metallic odds and ends.

Freshen Up Found Objects

That rusty wheelbarrow or dented watering can won’t look so great in the garden without some restoration. Luckily, it’s easy to spruce up worn-out metal pieces. First, remove any remaining dirt or debris with soap and water. For heavily rusted items, utilize a wire brush, sandpaper, or steel wool to buff away stubborn spots.

Applying a fresh coat of spray paint in a cheery color revitalizes tired metal objects. For a quick budget fix, use leftover house paint. Seek out discounted or oops paints at home improvement stores. Adhere to the paint manufacturer’s instructions for proper application on metal surfaces.

Don’t forget to prep the surface thoroughly before painting. Lightly sanding and wiping down with rubbing alcohol allows the paint to properly adhere. Apply thin coats to avoid drips and runs. Top off with a clear enamel spray paint for added protection from the elements.

Incorporate Found Objects into DIY Projects

Rather than display random salvaged items as-is, incorporate them into inventive DIY metal garden decor. Creating your own designs allows you to customize pieces to suit your taste and space. Here are some budget-friendly projects to try:

  • Metal bucket planters – Punch holes in the bottom for drainage, then paint and decorate pails to display flowers or herbs. Add rope handles for a rustic touch.
  • Wind chimes – Assemble an eclectic mix of keys, silverware, washers, and scrap metal bits. Hang them from the fishing line on a salvaged hubcap, triangle, or kettle.
  • Mosaic birdbath – Adhere pennies, marbles, shards of pottery, and tile with silicone around a metal basin. Seal with grout once dry.
  • Bottle cap art – Arrange bottle caps in the shape of flowers, animals or words on a plywood background. Adhere with wood glue or silicone.
  • Faux wrought iron – Use black spray paint and glue gun drippings to transform basic yard art pieces into elegant wrought iron imitations.

Let your imagination run wild when repurposing found objects. Even nuts, bolts, and wires become whimsical insects and flowers in the right hands.

Embellish with Paint

A fresh coat of paint works wonders for jazzing up the cheap metal garden decor. But don’t stop there. Add personality with hand-painted embellishments using basic craft paint. Here are thrifty ways to make metal art pop with color:

Stencils – Cut shapes like flowers, butterflies, or words out of cardboard. Hold the stencils in place and apply spray paint. Allow to dry fully before removing the stencils.

Patterns – Use a sponge brush to stamp on polka dots, stripes, chevrons or other patterns with contrasting colors of paint.

Faux finishes – Mimic expensive metal finishes like copper and bronze with paint. Just mix in a metallic acrylic craft paint with a base color.

Sponging – Dip a cosmetic sponge in diluted paint and dab lightly over the surface to create a mottled, textured look.

Dry brushing – Dip a stiff-bristled brush in paint, wipe off excess on a paper towel, then lightly brush over raised edges and details. Great for making metal look aged and weathered.

Stenciled numbers – Paint on home address numbers to use metal art as unique yard markers.

Chalkboard paint – Coat a section with chalkboard paint to allow changing up messages or decorations.

Attach Trendy Decor Items

Even just a few on-trend decorations can transform plain metal garden art. When purchased at craft and dollar stores, decorative items cost mere pennies each. Yet they make metal pieces look custom-designed. Some thrifty ways to accessorize metal yard art include:

  • Tie raffia, ribbon, or strips of fabric around a trellis, arbor, or plant stand for a boho vibe.
  • Affix a large monogram using adhesive vinyl or sticker letters from a craft store.
  • Glue on faux flowers, acrylic gemstones, or crushed glass pieces with E6000 adhesive.
  • Attach butterfly cutouts, dragonflies, or other metal shapes with jewelry wire.
  • Coil jute rope or twine around the base of plant stands and sculpture pedestals.
  • Dot sea glass, marbles, or river rocks around the top rim of containers using waterproof silicone.
  • Adhere rows of pennies or washers with clear epoxy for an affordable “copper” look.
  • Accent finials, scrolls, and edges with inexpensive trim found online or at big box hardware stores.

A bit of bling here and a few embellishments there make all the difference in taking metal garden art from drab to fab.

Consider Versatile, Budget-Friendly Metals

Consider Versatile, Budget-Friendly Metals

When selecting new metal decor for the garden, opt for inexpensive metals that allow creativity. galvanized steel, aluminum, and tin take paint and embellishments beautifully while retaining their silvery shine. Compared to costly wrought iron, you can find these metals for a fraction of the price at stores like Ikea and Pier 1.

Rather than elaborate statues and sculptures, choose versatile silhouettes like these:

  • Wire balls
  • Metal pails, boxes, and cylinders
  • Basic arbors, trellises, and stands
  • Silhouette wall art shapes
  • Candle lanterns
  • Obelisks and spirals
  • Animal silhouettes like birds, butterflies, and dragonflies

Simpler shapes prove easiest to customize on a budget. Add flair with paint, stencils, faux finishes, and found object embellishments until they reflect your unique garden style.

Check Discount and Dollar Stores

Never underestimate the selection of budget home and garden decor at local discount, dollar, thrift, and even grocery stores. What you save on individual items adds up, allowing you to decorate affordably.

Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and other dollar stores offer a rotating stock of metal garden art for only a buck or two. Here you’ll find:

  • Cutout critters like butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, and snails
  • Shepherd’s hooks
  • Welcome signs
  • Florals
  • Candle lanterns
  • Bird cages
  • Plant stakes
  • Galvanized buckets, watering cans, and cache pots

At thrift stores, keep an eye out for vintage metal tins, pots, urns, and buckets ripe for upcycling. And grocery stores sell metal pails and containers in their gardening aisles each spring.

Though inexpensive, these simple finds offer plenty of potential. Use them in DIY projects or add color and embellishments to complete the look.

Take It Slow to Stretch Your Budget

Building an extensive metal garden art collection takes both time and money. When funding is limited, take the slow and steady approach. Pick up a new focal point item or two each year as the budget allows.

Start by beautifying high-traffic spots seen from patios, porches, and sitting areas. Add complementary accents over time to create a cohesive look. Group items with cohesive colors and embellishments for the best effect.

Scoring end-of-season clearance deals allows you to maximize your decor budget. Shop off-season sales following summer and autumn when retailers slash prices on garden merchandise. For bargain hunters, patience pays off.

Get Creative with Display Techniques

The well-placed decor makes inexpensive pieces look like a million bucks. Use clever display techniques like these to showcase metal garden art:

Elevate on pedestals – Place sculptures, vases, and lanterns atop stacked bricks, concrete blocks, or inverted planters on column-like bases. This lifts items nearer eye level where they demand attention.

Hang or mount on walls – Defy expectations by hanging metal wall art outdoors just as you would indoors. Try trellises, silhouette cutouts, tin signs, and sconces.

Use as edging – Line walkways or borders with repetitive items like short metal stakes, cutout shapes, or rusted washers attached to rebar rods.

Add sculptural shelves – Bolt on salvaged metal pieces like old drawer fronts to basic shelves and bookcases. This instantly elevates them to garden-worthy works of art.

Hang lanterns and chimes – Suspend from tree branches, hooks, arbors, and pergolas. At night, the dancing flames and sounds will come alive.

Group in creative vignettes – Pull together three or more complementary pieces like planters, sculptures, chimes, and garden stakes for an eye-catching display.

Sometimes the presentation alone can transform humble metal yard art into a stunning focal point. Elevate, accent, highlight, repeat, and group items for an artful exhibit that belies the bargain price tags.

Maintain Metal Garden Decor

Maintain Metal Garden Decor

Budget-friendly metal decor deserves the same care and maintenance as pricier pieces to stay looking its best. Follow these tips to help metal art withstand the elements:

  • Check pieces regularly for chipping paint or rust spots. Touch up paint as needed.
  • Avoid moisture exposure by storing metal items like lanterns and plant stands in a shed or garage during cold months.
  • Apply paste wax or car wax annually to boost paint and metal finishes’ water resistance.
  • Consider clear-coating painted pieces with enamel spray paint for added protection and durability.
  • Clean regularly with mild soap and water to prevent dirt buildup and corrosion.
  • Loosen any accumulated grime and debris around crevices, embellishments, and details seasonally.
  • For valuable wrought iron or rusted pieces, apply a preservative sealant when first installing and every few years after.
  • Inspect wire, hooks, bolts, hanging hardware, and moving parts on items like wind chimes periodically. Replace worn pieces as needed.
  • Touch up paint scratches and chips quickly to prevent additional damage from sun exposure and moisture.

With proper care, even budgeted metal garden decor can last for many seasons of enjoyment. A little time invested preserves your investment in embellishing yard art.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of paint work best on metal?

Spray paint or primers formulated specifically for metal offer superior adhesion and durability. Rust-specific paints resist corrosion on salvaged items. Latex and acrylic craft paints also perform well for embellishing details, using stencils etc. Avoid chalk paints.

What about using rust remover instead of sanding?

Rust removing solutions are great alternatives to sanding for quick removal before priming and painting. Look for phosphoric or tannic acid-based removers. Apply using a brush or by soaking, then scrub and rinse clean. Wear gloves!

How do I get an antique or aged metal look?

After cleaning and removing rust, paint with a bronze, silver, pewter, or acrylic craft paint shade. Immediately follow with a dark antique glaze, wiped away for a mottled effect. Lightly sand raised edges and seal with an enamel clear coat for weathering.

What kind of embellishments work on outdoor metal art?

Look for materials designed for outdoor use, like exterior paint, outdoor vinyl sticker letters, UV-resistant craft glue, epoxy adhesives, and stabilized florals. Avoid paper and indoor craft materials.

What about maintenance for copper garden art?

Naturally, copper develops a desirable patina over time. But you can hasten it by cleaning with lemon juice or a vinegar bath. For a quick aged effect, brush on a patina antiquing solution. Periodically apply paste wax. Avoid excessive moisture.


With some imagination and elbow grease, decorating metal garden art doesn’t have to bust your budget. Take inventory of items already on hand for repurposing potential. Freshen up salvaged finds and incorporate them into inventive DIY projects.

Paint, stencils, and trendy embellishments customize plain metal pieces. Shop discounts and dollar stores for versatile, affordable metals to display creatively. Embark on a journey of creativity with creative container gardening ideas: cultivating miniature worlds of green. Maintain your finished decor properly and add new focal points slowly each season as the budget allows. In no time, you can craft a beautiful metal garden oasis without breaking the bank, allowing you to express yourself with metal art and transform your outdoor space into a living masterpiece.

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