FROM BROKEN TO BEAUTIFUL - Upcycled Art for the Garden



For all of you do-it-yourselfers out there looking of fun project to spruce up your garden, here is my most recent project. 

A year or so ago my daughter had brought home a cruiser-style bicycle from the local re-use center hoping that it could be fixed for her to use as a stylish mode of transport.  Alas it was too badly damaged and being a lower budget model of bike, we decided it was not worth fixing.  It sat in my basement gathering dust until we could put it out during our annual large item garbage pick up in town.  Just before that day came around, I remembered seeing one the previous summer painted up and used as garden décor.  I saved it from being taken out to the trash and had my next project!

I love to take someone else’s cast offs and remake or restore them to give them another life in my home.  This is a frugal and environmentally friendly way to decorate, and one that is infused with hope.  I love how this practice mirrors life’s truth; how the broken can be made beautiful once again, and that nothing and no one is beyond hope.

MATERIALS: (more details to follow)

1.       Bicycle (or a tricycle could be cute also), cruiser style is best

2.       Spray Paint (2-3 cans depending on color and desired coverage)

3.       Basket or planter of some sort

4.       Cable ties (4) and wire cutters

5.       Plants/soil


Wipe down and then paint the entire bike, no need to sand it.  Yes, paint the tires, the chain, the spokes – everything.  I decided I liked the brown faux leather seat as it was so I covered it in a plastic bag before I painted the rest, but you could paint the seat also.  I figured the best way to paint in order to get a smooth finish was to use spray paint (this stuff is magic!)  My bike was going to go at the front of my house in the middle of my garden resting against my front deck railing.  I decided on flat white, but you could use any color, but the important thing was that the color contrasted with the background so it would stand out nicely.

I used 2 ½ cans of Krylon Dual Superbond, which does not need primer first (bonus!) and has the highest adhesion and rust protection, which is perfect for outdoor items.  It will take a number of light coats to get everything covered.  I made sure to move the tire position so I could get all sides evenly covered.


Attach a “front basket” to hold flowers.  I happened to have on hand, an oblong metal planter in the perfect size to use for this.  A wicker basket or even a plastic one could also work. Just make sure whatever you choose for this will be able to withstand the weather and the weight of the soil and plants you intend for it.  You can paint it to match the color of your bicycle or leave the wicker natural.  I chose to leave my somewhat rusty planter as is, since I adore the patina of a well-used item.

I punched two holes into the metal planter in a position where they could be easily attached to the handlebars of the bike.  If you are using a wicker or plastic basket that already has spaces large enough to fit a cable tie through, you don’t have to worry about making these holes.

Secure the basket to the front of the bike using your cable ties, two should be enough for this.  Use wire cutters to cut off the excess of the cable tie (watch out! the cut ends can be very sharp).


Now you can wheel your bicycle into its desired location and add your flowers.  If you used a wicker basket I would suggest lining it with a plastic liner of some sort to keep the moisture in the soil and to keep the soil from draining out through the holes in the wicker.  Another alternative, which is what I did, I kept the plants in individual pots (they are 4.5” pots), so that my planter container would stay relatively clean, and would rust less.  My basket is deep enough to hide the pots.   I used five of these plants in my basket because I wanted it to look really full, but by the end of the season I may have to repot or remove some if it gets too overgrown.  I used geraniums in my planter because I wanted the large crimson blossoms that draw attention and also match my red front door.  Trailing plants would also look great.  If your bike was painted black, colorful coleus would look fantastic. 

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I used the remaining cable ties to secure my planted bicycle to the deck railing.  If you do not have this option, I would suggest securing it into the ground using tent pegs. 



(And don’t be surprised if you have neighbors knocking on your door asking how it was done!)