DIY Upcycling Projects That Will Elevate Your Backyard

Shannon Quinn - July 5, 2023

Who doesn’t love a good backyard craft? We know we do. And if you care about the planet, you may have decided to try upcycling something during your craft projects. In case you’re unaware, “upcycling” means recycling giving something old a glow-up. Instead of throwing away something and adding to the landfills, you get to repurpose something. An added bonus is that you might even save money in the process. On today’s list on Home Addict, we’re going to focus on projects specifically for your backyard. Here are some fun projects you might love to make this summer for some backyard fun.

Credit: We Greenly

Pool Noodle Water Works

A lot of people have pool noodles lying around, and they’re not sure what to do with it. Or they see them at Dollar Tree and wonder what they can do as a craft upcycling them into something for summer time fun. This idea came from the We’re Greenly blog. They have repurposed plastic piping that they probably purchased from Home Depot. This made a framework for water to go through the water hose and into this fun device. Now, the kids can ride her bicycle through the device and get word on a summer day. As you can see in the photo, they cut up the noodles for a striped color look. But you could keep solid colors just to give them a bumper while using the water toy.

Credit: Reddit

Plastic Bale Strap Purse For Backyard Picnics

If you ever get those plastic bail straps, for any reason, this next craft might be a good one for you. In case you didn’t know, these plastic straps come with big bales of goods that you buy in bulk for farms and other types of landscaping projects. This woman came up with the clever idea of collecting these plastic straps, and weaving them into a bag. The end result is not exactly something you want to wear down the runway. But it’s perfect. If you’re going on a picnic or you need to carry something out to the garden or the backyard party. It should technically be waterproof, which might also make it a good option for the beach. This woman was very clever to think of this, and her cats love it too.

Credit: Were Greenly

Anti-Slug Garden Decor

Slugs have a bad habit of eating the leaves of your plants. While they don’t necessarily kill your plants, no one wants to have wholly leaves in their front garden. That’s why it might be a good idea for you to have an anti-slug device. Slugs don’t like copper, because it gives them an electric shock. Salt can kill, slugs. So you don’t necessarily want to kill them. Someone came up with a great idea of adding pennies to a ball to create a device that will get rid of the slugs for you. This should be easy to make with some hot glue, and upcycling a pre-existing lawn ornament. Some people also had copper to the owners of their raised vegetable beds.

Credit: Reddit

Teacup Bird Feeders

This photo from Reddit is an upcycling project that we have seen over and over again online. When you go to thrift stores, it’s very common to see beautiful tea, cups, and saucers that are all alone. Maybe someone inherited them from their grandmother and they donated the chipped ones. Or maybe some antique versions got damaged over time. Some gift shops even sell them individually, and you might only have one from a vacation that he went on. If you don’t actually drink tea out of them, this is a really good crafting idea for you to turn it into a birdfeeder. As you can see in the photo, a lot of people make multiple bird feeders as part of a collection, so that multiple birds can eat at the same time.

Credit: Reddit

This Man Turned Coolers Into Outdoor Winter Cat Shelters

If you’re like every other suburban parent, you probably have a random assortment of coolers in the garage. It seems like this guy had that problem. But instead of holding onto them as coolers that will never be used, he decided to re-purposed them into outdoor cat shelters. In case you’re not aware, a lot of stray cats sleep outside all year long. That might be fine in the summertime, but winter time is terrible for these poor creatures. So this man decided to create shelters to keep the cats warm. Typically, multiple cats will end up sleeping together to keep each other warm. If they are part of the same family. Sometimes animal shelters will use this to help bring them in to be neutered or adopted.

Credit: Reddit

Gorgeous Uplift Given to a Pair of Wooden Pool Chairs

On the Reddit post, the original post said that these were being tossed in the trash, but they knew they had potential. So they sanded the wooden lawn chairs down and gave them a facelift. Once they were sanded, they were stained a beautiful dark wood color. A pair of chairs like this would cost $300 on Wayfair. So the fact that they got them for free is incredible. Sure, they had to put in some sweat equity and pay for wood stain. But it was truly worth it in the end. The end result is gorgeous.

Thrift Store Cutlery Was Turned Into an Outdoor Metal Ornament

A lot of people make lawn ornaments, but I’ve never seen one quite like this. The caption of the photo says, “Not eating with my fingers. Luckily, I had a supply of charity shop cutlery. I planned to experiment with stainless steel before lockdown.” This is a really cool piece to keep in your backyard. And since it is a one of a kind piece, its value is priceless. Of course, it’s not to everyone’s taste. But we can imagine this looking really cool in someone’s backyard if they lived near the beach. The only potential downside is that it might rust in the rain if you leave it outside.

Credit: Reddit

License Plate Planters

Technically, you’re supposed to hand your license plates in when you’re done using them. But that doesn’t stop a lot of people from collecting license plates at home. It’s especially more common with vintage license plates that you might find at a flea market or a barn sale. But what do you do with those license plates? Some people like to hang them on their walls and display their collection. But this upcycling project of turning a metal plate into a planter is actually a great idea. The only downside to this project is that the bottom of the planter would be open. However, a lot of water needs to go through to drain the plants properly. So if you keep this on an outdoor table that you don’t mind getting dirty, it could work out fine in the end.

Credit: Reddit

A Broken Air Compressor Becomes a Flower Pot

This is upcycling at its finest. Most people would recycle a broken air compressor to the dump to exchange for scrap metal. But this person decided to transform it into a flower pot. Technically, they’re using this flower pot indoors. Most people probably would not want this inside the house. It would end up as an outdoor project meant for the backyard. And since it is made of metal, it may eventually rust if you left it outside. But you can always paint it with an anti-rust paint to keep it in good shape for years to come.

Credit: Reddit

From Indoor to Outdoor Couches

These couches were originally normal indoor couches that you would find anywhere. But they decided to upcycle them instead of throwing them in the trash. They were able to transform the couches into outdoor furniture that they could use in their backyard. I’d truly wonder how much money they saved on this project. Outdoor couches like this cost at least $1000. And old couches can easily be found for free on Facebook marketplace or craigslist. So with a little bit of elbow grease, these people were able to save a lot of money and recycle at the same time.

Credit: Reddit

From Outdoor Lamps to Planters

Check out these cute lamp planters we found on Reddit! The caption of this photo said, “Upcycled these old lamps as vases for my plants. I think they look cool, especially the middle one.” This is a really unique idea. Not many people would have thought about upcycling these lamps in this way. It wasn’t the only time we’ve seen this online, either. However, some people were using these for indoor plants. Based on the stucco, it is probably the back wall of someone’s house. So it was most likely facing the backyard. No matter where you decide to install them, they make very cool planters.

Credit: Reddit

Privacy Fence Out of Pallets and Reclaimed Lumber

I’m seriously jealous and amazed at this next project, because they managed to use pallets and reclaimed lumber to make a privacy fence. We just may try to follow in this person’s footsteps. To be fair, they have a very small area that they were keeping private. So it was probably difficult to find enough pallets to make an entire fence around their whole backyard. However, this is a really good idea, and gives them some privacy right outside the back door. It looks very tall as well, which is great for privacy if you’re trying to have a drink and talk with friends or barbecue

Credit: Reddit

Upcycling a Broken Bed Frame

When a bed frame is broken, there is very little that you can do with it. Most people will take it to the side of the road to go to the dump. And if you’re lucky, someone might show up to take the metal to the scrap yard. But this person decided to upcycle the bed frame in their backyard. They turned it into a trellis for their plants to grow up on. This is actually a great idea, because trellises normally cost between $30-$70 depending on how big it is. Is it the most attractive thing in the world? Not really. But it gets the job done, and it prevents something from going into the landfill.

Credit: Reddit

From Crumbling Shed to Beautiful Potting Shelter

The before and after of this project is simply amazing. Before, the shed was completely falling apart. Afterwards, they were able to turn this into a potting shed. They wanted to complete the project with only recycled materials. If you look at the original Reddit post, you can see that they repurposed old doors to recreate the back wall of the shelter. There is also an old baby’s high chair sitting in the shed too, because they might use it for storage. In the comment section, people are full of compliments over this shed. Be sure to check out the original post for all the details.

Credit: Reddit

Mosaic Meditation Area

This person from the upcycling subReddit got very lucky with this find. There was a nearby hotel that was about to throw these stones away because they did not need them for the rest of their landscaping project. So this person was able to grab them and bring them home to their own backyard. They turned it into a mosaic meditation area. If you are trying to create your own meditation area, you will probably draw inspiration from this one. This might not be a traditional meditation area in terms of a Japanese garden, or anything like that, but they may do with what they could get for free. And it is working. Definitely worth the work you put into it.

Credit: Reddit

Outdoor Statue Made of Bike Tires

A lot of people have statues in their backyard. But they usually buy them from a garden center, and they might only be a foot tall. But this person decided to upcycle a giant spinning globe of bicycle wheels. It must’ve taken a very long time for them to find all of the bicycle wheels that they could use for this project. But if you look on craigslist and Facebook marketplace, there are a lot of people getting rid of their old bikes that are no longer rideable. This was a creative solution that not many people would have thought of.

Credit: Pillar Box Blue

Painted Wood Pallet Planter

Pallets are very easy to find, especially if you look on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace. People sometimes get them when they have a delivery to their house and they don’t know what to do with them. A lot of businesses might also get pallets that stack up waiting to be recycled. So whether you go seeking a pallet, or have one at home already, this is a really great idea. All they really did was paint the pallet to look like it was tiled. Then they added some wire loops to hold onto the terracotta pots with plants in them. The end result is a very cute planter that looks like it would have been very expensive to buy in the store. For all of the instructions on how to make this, check out the Pillar Box Blue Blog.

Credit: Crafts by Amanda

Clay Pot Toadstools

Some people might have a lot of clay pots lying around their house that they’re not sure what to do with. Or your backyard might be filled with these pots that were given as gifts. This idea to create clay pot toadstools is really adorable. And all you really need is some glue and some paints to get it done. Once these toadstools are upcycled, you can display them around your backyard as cute lawn ornaments. Compared to how much you’d pay in the store for similar statues, you will probably save money in the end. If you would like to see the full instructions and how to make this craft, check out the blog called Crafts by Amanda.

Broken Bicycle Planter

Bikes are expensive, so it’s hard to let them go, even when they are broken. A lot of people can still sell them on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist even if they are missing parts. However, sometimes, if you have a really cheap bike from somewhere like Walmart, it becomes essentially worthless at the end of its life. That’s why some people decide to do the upcycling project of a bicycle planter. This is usually put in the front yard. We have even seen people turn bicycles into mailbox planter hybrids. For more details on how to make this, look at the Urban Garden Gal Blog.

Credit: Sustain My Craft Habit

Cheese Grater Owl

It’s rare for people to randomly get rid of their cheese graters, unless they begin to rust. But if you’re one of those people who decide to upcycle your grater, consider this adorable cheese grater owl. You can make these using leftover food lids, as well as some screws. There are also some wires that allow you to attach the cheese grater to a stick, which really makes it look like an owl. You can pull this off with minimal tools and glue, and get a really cute owl as a result. For more details on how to make this, check out the Sustain My Craft Habit blog.

Credit: Moms and Crafters

Hula Hoop Chandelier

A lot of people love chandeliers, but it’s rare to see them outside on your porch for a few reasons. They can be expensive, and some people might be afraid that an indoor chandelier would get ruined. This person from the Moms and Crafters blog decided to make her own outdoor chandelier by upcycling a hula hoop with some outdoor lights. Considering that you can buy a hula hoop from the dollar store, this crafting project should be really cheap even if you don’t have the materials on hand. The result is really cool, and makes a beautiful chandelier at night time for a porch or a barn.

Screw Ball Flowers

This next craft is a little strange, but to each their own! They’re called screw ball flowers from the Mixed Kreations blog. All you need to do this craft is a bunch of screws, and some wooden balls. Then you need to stick them to dowel rods, which can be found at any hardware store. This is really only a recycling project if you happen to have some of these things on hand already, which might be rare. Otherwise, you would spend a few dollars buying these supplies from somewhere like Home Depot. In the end, you get a really quirky lawn ornament to put in your backyard.

Credit: We Greenly

Wooden Pallet Bar

Here is yet another example of what you can do with an old pallet. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people get free pallets either from a delivery, or from someone trying to get rid of them online. In this photo from We’re Greenly, you can see that they transformed the pallet into an outdoor bar. They even made it so that the front of the pallet drops down to reveal all of the drinks and glasses that are hidden inside. Very clever! Even though this looks cool in the picture, you should probably wait until your party before putting any of these objects into the outdoor bar. With rain and snow, your items can get completely ruined. Not to mention critters getting into those snacks.

Credit: This Old House

Tree Stump Planter

Sometimes, our old tree stumps naturally become planters as new plants naturally grow through. (At least, that’s the case in many backyards.) But of course, you can go one step further and turn an old stump into a literal wooden planter that can hold a lot of annual plants for you to put on display in your yard. It requires a lot of drilling and carving out of the wood. But in the end, it looks really cool. And it can elevate your backyard with a great upcycled project instead of a bunch of plain stumps that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars to pull out of the ground. Full instructions can be found on This Old House.

Credit: We’re Greenly

A Mosaic Walkway

The odds that you can do this project in your own house is slim to none. There are very few people who will have this many tiles laying around your home getting ready to be upcycled. However, if you’re really determined to try this, we recommend starting on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to see what you can find. Search the clearance section of your hardware stores. And even look at places like the Habitat for Humanity Restore for random boxes of old tiles. Don’t be afraid to break apart bigger tiles for the sake of this art project. This project would be far from free, but it will be very cool in the end.

Credit: We Greenly

DIY Door Swing

Do you have a couple of beautiful old vintage doors just lying around your barn? Then this project is perfect for you! Just kidding. A scenario like this is so rare, but it still looks beautiful on a list of upcycle projects for your backyard. You could also do this if you find these old doors online, or even on display at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, which sells old doors. Otherwise, doors like this can be very expensive if you bought them new. It would actually be cheaper for you to get a brand new porch swing kit if you were to want one in your house.

Credit: We’re Greenly

Sandbox Garden

If you grew up in the 1990’s to 2000’s, there is a good chance that you had one of these turtle sandboxes in your backyard. Or, you had something similar. In fact, a similar sandbox is still for sale by Little Tikes at Walmart for $75. So it’s not cheap. It’s totally understandable if you bought this at one point in your life and thought, “I’m never getting rid of that!” So the idea of turning this into a planter garden is actually brilliant, and downright adorable. It’s even better if you still have kids, but they have just outgrown the sandbox. Or, you realized that sandboxes are kind of unsanitary.

Credit: Ideal Home

Chess Board Table Top

Sometimes, when you walk through parks in major cities around the world, you will run across cement tables with chess boards built in. These are very cool, and can attract a lot of chess players who are serious about the game. If you’ve ever seen The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, then you already know! Many game tables are expensive if you buy them outright. But it’s an easy upcycle project for you to take an old garden table and simply paint on a chess board. As you can see in this photo, they also added some cute geometric designs as well.

Credit: Ideal Home

Turn An Old Ladder Into A Pergola

If you live in an old house, chances are that you have a wooden ladder somewhere on the property. Most of the time, we replace these ladders with metal ones due to safety concerns. But it’s hard to let go of those wooden ladders, because they look so cool. Or, you might even see one of the yard sales or an antique store the next time you go out looking for old things. A really good upcycling project for the backyard is to turn that ladder into a pergola. Obviously, you can’t have a huge pergola out of water. But it’s big enough to hang over a table like you see in the image above. They even installed a really cool industrial light fixture that looks great outdoors.

Credit: Ideal Home

Vintage Ladder Shelf

Speaking of old wooden ladders, here is yet another idea from Ideal Home magazine. Instead of hanging it as a pergola, this person decided to use it as a shelf for their plants. But they went one step further to drill holes into the ladder so that the jars fit in perfectly, rather than balancing on top. This would kind of ruin the ladder from ever being used for anything else again. So really think about this before you execute on your plan. In the end, though, the result is really cute. It looks especially nice that it was painted white, which makes it look very cottagecore.

Credit: Ideal Home

Easy Three-Door Potting Shed

Have you ever wanted to build a potting shed, but it seemed too difficult or expensive? This next DIY project proves that that is not the case. All you really need is three old doors, and you have yourself a shed. This project came from a man named ​​Max McMurdo at Reestore LTD. (He literally wrote an entire book on upcycling.) Obviously, you need a little bit more to finish the shed, like a tin roof and some shelving inside. But he makes this look easy enough to accomplish on one weekend. As we mentioned earlier on this list, it can sometimes be difficult to source old doors. But look online, as well as the Habitat for Humanity Restore in your location area to find vintage doors like this.

Credit: Ideal Home

Kitchen Table Herb Garden

Many of us have experienced outgrowing a small kitchen table when we move from a small apartment to a bigger home. Or, if you’re like me, you end up running across these free tables all the time…You’re just not sure what to do with them. This upcycling project is an amazing idea, because it gives you a tabletop herb garden that’s tall and easy to maintain. There is no longer a need to bend down and break your back to tend to the garden. On top of the convenience factor, it’s just plain cute! If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out some of our other DIY craft ideas.