How to make outdoor garden signs

Updated February 21, 2017

Wooden signs add kitschy charm to your lawn and garden. A simple garden sign is made out of painted hardwood with a single stake for inserting the sign into the ground. Pre-manufactured wood signs are available, but making your own sign lets you customise it to your style and personality. The shape, imagery, text and size of a homemade wooden garden sign can all be tailored to suit your needs and to compliment your home's exterior landscape.

Draw the desired shape of your sign on a 3/4-inch thick piece of hardwood, using a pencil. The shape can be simple--such as a rectangle, circle or triangle--or it can be more complex, such as a house, tree or animal. A common size for a single-stake sign is around 10 to 12 inches tall and 14 to 16 inches wide.

Cut out the shape, using an electric saw. For rounded or other intricate cuts, use a saw with a narrow blade, such as a jigsaw, band saw or scroll saw. Sand the cut edges to smooth them down with 120-grit sandpaper.

Cut a 16- to 20-inch piece of a 1-inch-by-2-inch board for the stake. The length of the stake depends on how high you want your sign to be. Cut one end to a V-shaped point for easy insertion into the ground. Sand the cut edges with 120-grit sandpaper.

Sand all surfaces, using 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe the wood with a slightly damp cloth to remove all sanding dust.

Prime the stake and sign (front and back) with a high-quality, outdoor primer. Allow the primer to dry.

Measure and mark the horizontal centre on the backside of the sign, to determine where to attach the stake.

Drill two pilot holes, 3 to 4 inches apart, at the top of the stake. Line the stake up with the centre mark at the back of the sign. The top of the stake should be 4 to 6 inches below the top edge of the sign.

Affix the stake to the back of the sign with 1 1/2-inch wood screws.

Paint the entire sign (front and back) and stake with a base colour, using a high-quality, outdoor paint.

Trace the words and images you want on the sign, using a pencil. If you do not want to draw the sign freehand, stencils can be used for painting.

Paint the text and images a second colour that compliments and stands out well from the base colour, using artist's paintbrushes.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/4-inch hardwood
  • Pencil
  • Electric saw
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • 1-inch-by-2-inch board
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Outdoor wood primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • 1 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Outdoor wood paint
  • Stencils (optional)
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.