The garden is a great destination for fresh perspective, especially when life gets busy. This project combines inspiration with a little therapy and the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. I love visiting the garden. Something about being surrounded by growing plants reminds me that anything is possible, and it generates positive thinking for me.
In my garden, beauty extends beyond the natural elements. There are fun do-it-yourself signs and a few collective pieces that create a happy place year-round. I refer to these items as "garden flair." These elements can include positive and encouraging messages and/or interesting décor that welcomes a creative atmosphere.
We recently relocated further into the country, and after establishing our raised beds in the garden, I noticed a variety of wild birds making a daily appearance. Those winged creatures are what inspired me to create this project.
The tools and materials needed for this project are very basic, and the sign can be made in an afternoon. You can use either new or recycled scrap wood. Be sure to wear safety gear and goggles during the entire process, and remember that the most important detail is to have fun.
• Electric saw
• Electric drill, bits, and screw heads
• Hammer and finishing nails
• 1 cedar fence board, 8 feet long, for stencil base
• 1 2-by-6 board, 8 feet long, for house base
• 1-1/2-inch-by-2-1/2-inch board, 8 feet long, for roof trim and planter box
• 1 2-by-2 board, 8 feet long, for sign stakes
• Stencils — whatever sayings and designs you like (the ones I used came from Old Sign and Cutting Edge Stencils)
• Stencil brush
• Medium paintbrush
• Painter's tape
• Paint pallet
• Chalk paint: yellow, white, and dark brown
• Raffi a or seasonal ribbon
1-1: Cut 2 pieces, 2-1/2 feet in length, from the cedar fence board, for the stencil base.
1-2: Using the 2-by-6, cut 2 pieces 14 inches long, for the house base.
1-3: Take each house base and cut a slant from the top corner, for an angled roof.
1-4: Cut 2 pieces, 3 feet long, using the 2-by-2, for the sign stakes.
1-5: Using the 1/2-inch-by-2-1/2-inch board, cut the roof trim. To do this, make 2 slant cuts between 8 and 9 inches on each end to match the angled roof with an overhang.
1-6: Using the 1/2-inch-by-2-1/2-inch board, cut 4 pieces for the planter box. One piece should be 11 inches long, another 9-1/2 inches long, and two at 2-1/2 inches long.
2-1: Sand all the wood to clean up any rough edges, so all the surfaces are smooth.
2-2: Apply a coat of yellow chalk paint to both pieces of wood for the house base, and let it dry. Then top it with a quick coat of white chalk paint, and let it dry completely. Tip: You don't want the white paint to completely cover the yellow paint, but instead you want to allow the yellow to shine through in various places, giving off a rustic look.
2-3: Paint the 3-foot-long sign stakes with white chalk paint, and let them dry.
2-4: Paint the boards for the planter box and the roof trim with dark brown chalk paint, and let them dry.
2-5: Using painter's tape, place desired phrase stencil where you want it on your cedar fence boards, and transfer the message with dark brown chalk paint. Let dry.
2-6: Place the flower stencil where you want it, tape it down with painter's tape, and transfer it to the board with brown chalk paint. Let it dry.
Once everything has been sanded, painted, and stenciled, and is completely dry, it's time to connect the project from the back side. Make sure to drill pilot holes prior to inserting screws and nails, as this will help keep the wood from splitting. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screws or nails you're using, and drill into the wood. Slowly insert the hardware for a clean connection.
3-1: The first connection will be the house and the stenciled fence boards. Flip everything over and connect the fence boards to the back of the house.
3-2: Flip the sign back over and connect the roof trim pieces to the house base with finishing nails.
3-3: Assemble the planter box using finishing nails. Attach the front piece to the bottom, then add the ends. This will create a rectangle box without a back.
3-4: Flip the sign back over, and connect the planter box to the house using three screws.
3-5: Attach the sign stakes from the back to each end using screws.
3-6: Finish the project by incorporating ribbon and a few plants, or leave the box empty for holding seed packets during planting season.
Placing the sign involves digging two holes and packing the dirt tight, after the stakes are in the ground. If you have loose soil, add 4-foot posts rather than 3-foot posts so you can bury them down a good foot. This will help stabilize the sign and keep it secure year-round.
The sign can be placed directly inside a raised bed, or right outside of it.
Adding flair is fun. Create a space that goes beyond planting, because sometimes we all need a fresh perspective.
Note: Here are a couple of tips to remember when stenciling:
1) Always use painter's tape to attach the stencil to the project to keep it from sliding around.
2) Use very little paint on the brush. Load the brush with paint, then use a painter's pallet to brush off the excess. You can load more paint as needed, but if you use too much, there's a very good chance the excess paint will seep under the stencil and make a mess that may not be able to be fixed.
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