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Innovative ways to reuse old farm implements as garden art

Updated July 20, 2017

"Rusty stuff," from old ploughs and tractors to decrepit shovels and pitchforks, can be well-suited for functional and aesthetically pleasing focal points in your landscaping or vegetable garden. There are hundreds of types and categories of vintage farm equipment, including implements such as bone cutters, cider mills, cream separators, pumps and dozens of hand tools. Each one has garden art potential.

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Large equipment

Use large vintage farm equipment, like a windmill for example, to set the theme for any landscape and turn your garden from plain to impressive. An old tractor or thresher makes a nice focal point and place to perch and overlook your plantings. If you have space, you can create the feeling of a heritage farm museum by situating vintage hay bailers, mowing machines and carts along the edges of fields or as centrepieces in wild flower meadows.

Specialist equipment

For industry-specific garden display ideas -- winemaking for example -- collect wine barrels, bottle corkers and grape presses and display them under a trellis supporting grape vines; this creates a personal outdoor museum to the craft. If milk is more interesting to you than wine, use antique milk and cream churns as planters for your container garden. Wire vintage milk bottles to serve as pathway lights.

Portable equipment

Some easily relocated equipment, like wheelbarrows and carts, make good planters; use these for seasonal plantings and decorate them for special occasions. The same washing tub you plant with petunias in the spring can be re-purposed and relocated to hold an evergreen covered with Christmas lights in the winter. Old washing tubs, feed troughs and barrels make good farm-themed water features with the addition of an electric pump and tubing readily available at builders' merchants and DIY centres.

Hand tools

If you have climbing plants and vines, string rusty wire between the handles of old hand tools to create trellises. Shovels, hand ploughs and old rakes are good for staking young trees and are more attractive than stakes. In the vegetable garden, make old hand trowels useful again by positioning them at the ends of plant rows, then tie a string between them to help support young plants. You can even weld or bolt old hand tool parts together to create one-of-a-kind garden animal art sculptures.

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About the Author

Patricia Rae Linn

A southwesterner, outdoorsperson and avid gardener, Patricia Rae Linn started writing professionally in 1986. She was editor of American Sailor, Downeaster and Rags magazines, is a seasoned copy writer having owned a marketing agency for 22 years, and is a Colorado State University certified Master Gardner.

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