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  • Writer's pictureSusan Lute

In The Garden: 4 Step DIY Garden Project—an Unlikely Start to Landscape Design

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

When does a DIY Garden Project make the top of my hit parade? When the weeds are at their worst. The garden is always one of my favorite places. We have an acre where most of our plant visitors think they've found the best weed hotel anywhere. I'm not fond of clearing them out. Part of my solution to the problem is to develop a landscape design favoring more plants and fewer weeds that I'll implement next spring and summer. But in the meantime, a DIY project seems like the perfect distraction.

Unfortunately, I don't have before pictures (I'll do better next time, I promise), so we'll have to make do with the finished result. Imagine a great find in your overstuffed shed, at a yard sale, or one given to you by one of your favorite or not-so-favorite relatives. This particular find is an old, worn iron and wood bench. The iron is scrolled but spotted with rust. The wood is almost bare of any color or varnish protection.

To begin, make a list of supplies you'll need: A wire cleaning brush, (in my case) a Phillips screwdriver, an old cleaning cloth, sandpaper and/or a palm sander, and paint of your choice. If you intend to put your finished bench in a garden where it's not protected from the elements, then an outdoor waterproof spray paint would be worth considering, or you could apply a sealer as the final coat.

Step One: Break down the bench by removing all the screws (they're probably all rusted, so one or two may need to have the head sawed off with a grinder or hack saw). As you take apart the bench, number all of the parts using sticky notes and make a diagram. Before pictures from all angles are very helpful when it's time to put the bench back together.

Step Two: Using a wire brush, scrape off as much of the rust and old paint as you can from the metal and support pieces. Using an old cloth, wipe them down. Spray paint (I used Rust-oleum Chalked ultra matte paint), and cover the pieces completely. Mine took two coats.

Step Three: While the metal pieces are drying, sand the wood slats. If there is residual varnish on the wood, remove as much as you can. I used a palm sander which worked great, but I didn't take off all the old varnish and wished later I had worked at that more. Again I used Rust-oleum chalked paint that I rolled on with a small roller. It took three coats and I covered all sides of the boards.

Step Four: After everything has dried, using stainless steel screws and bolts (refer to your diagram and photos), reassemble the bench.

Ta Da! You're done!

Things I wish I'd done differently: Step Two. I used Chalked paint (it just sounded like a good idea at the time and I found a great color), but I'm not convinced it will hold up against our Pacific Northwest weather. So, I'll find a Rust-oleum sealer to cover the whole project and keep it under cover on the front porch.

This has been fun. See you guys next week, when I'll be exploring home and sanctuaries. In the meantime, have a great week.


Oct 07, 2022

What a great breakdown of your project. How long did it take you? Is it something you can do in a weekend? My projects always go longer than expected! Thanks for the inspiration!

Susan Lute
Susan Lute
Oct 07, 2022
Replying to

Hi Darla. Thanks for dropping in. This project took about a week to complete, mostly because I ended up putting on more coats of paint (and letting them dry overnight) than I expected. Aside from that, it was a fun project with quick results 😊

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