As a novice gardener, I have a tough time identifying plants and remembering what the heck I planted where. So each spring, as I clean out my flower beds and tiny herb and vegetable garden, I hem and haw over what I need to plant and where.
To help out, my husband often holds onto the little plastic plant ID markers — you know, the kind that come in the container with care instructions — and he sticks them in the mulch and soil beside the plants. The problem is, they’re a bit of an eyesore.
So this year, I decided to upgrade with DIY plant markers.
In addition to being an outdoorsy person, I like to consider myself to be an artistic person. But when it comes to interesting DIY projects, I rarely have the time, skills or tools they require. A lot of the DIY crafts that I’ve come across on the internet appear to be simple, but are actually a bit complicated. So you can imagine how excited I was to find DIY plant markers that were so simple that I didn’t even need to buy any art supplies.
All I needed was paint and rocks, two things I have in abundance.
For years now, I’ve been hoarding acrylic paint. I pick it up at yard sales, and I have any color you might want. And as for the rocks — I live in probably one of the rockiest forests in Maine.
There were a lot of different variations of painted rock plant markers, but in the end, I decided to stop looking at photos online and just do whatever I thought looked best. I guess I don’t like to copy someone’s artwork, even if it’s just a garden marker.
To start the project, I walked up and down the gravel road by my house and collected small rocks of various shapes. While I was doing this, my one and only neighbor quietly drove by. I imagine I looked quite strange standing there holding a bunch of dirty rocks as if they were treasures.
Back at home, I rinsed the rocks of dirt and laid them on a newspaper to dry. I then used a paintbrush to painted one side of each rock white. I decided to do this so that whatever illustrations or writing I painted would show up well.
Acrylic paint is great for this project because it won’t get washed away by the rain and it shows up well on rocks of any color. It’s also fairly kid-friendly, though certainly not edible. And this craft would make for a wonderful family activity. In fact, there’s a Facebook group called “Bangor ROCKS!” that encourages people to paint rocks and hide them throughout the community for others to find and enjoy.
I experimented with the style of markers I wanted. At first, I painted entire rocks, transforming them into vegetables. I turned a round rock into a tomato and a triangular rock into a carrot, but I soon realized that it would be difficult to find rock shapes that worked for all the vegetables in my garden, let alone the herbs and flowers. So I changed the style.
Using a tiny brush, I illustrated the plants — to the best of my ability — on the white background of the rock, then wrote the name of the plant in small, black letters overhead. And I’ll admit, to do this, I Google searched illustrations of some of the plants to get a better idea of how to paint them.
In hindsight, I could have used a black sharpie to write the names of the plants instead, but it was actually very relaxing for me to focus so much on the small text and illustrations. I’ve always been someone who can get caught up in details, and for me, painting — like gardening — is therapeutic, even if my creations in both realms are far from masterpieces.
Now I’ve completed my first batch of plant marker rocks, I think I’ll make more, and maybe even bring the craft to my sister’s house to do with my 6-year-old niece.
And if you’re not into painting, I found another great, easy DIY plant marker that doesn’t involve paint. You take old spoons, hammer them flat (which I imagine is a bit therapeutic in itself), and take tiny letter stamps and permanent ink (or marker) to create the plant names on the spoons.
Also, while scrolling through Pinterest, I came across a slightly more difficult DIY garden craft that I’m interested in trying because I have so many extra beads. The craft involves threading multiple wires through a tall tube, then adorning the ends of the wire with beads so they sway and sparkle in the breeze. The end result is a big, colorful, spidery looking thing. If I try it out, I’ll be sure to write about it. In fact, I plan to write about my gardening adventures (and struggles) a few more times this spring and summer, since my gardens bring me so much joy and opportunities to learn.
In the comment section below, I’d love to hear if you’ve ever tried to create any decor for your garden. Did the project come out as you planned? Would you suggest it to others? And do you have any DIY projects you’d like me to try?