Add a little Yart (Yard + Art) or Jart (Junk + Art) to your gardens this year!

Some country pleasures never seem to change…sunny June brings us plump strawberries, crisp lettuce, and bright Tiger Lilies that pop up almost overnight along country roads. On these perfect June days, one of my favorite sounds can be heard through the screen door…the snap of freshly-washed sheets billowing in the breeze. And as twilight approaches, I’m enchanted by fireflies and their magical dances.

With these warm and dry summer days, and the threat of a late frost now over, the vegetable garden is in. It’s always interesting to hear, even in our modern world, farmers talk about planting by the “phases of the moon.” And while I see fields of some crops flourish and other fields less so, it does make me wonder if that age-old practice just might have some truth to it. Technology allows us to find the answers to all our gardening questions in an instant. However; ignoring the farming advice that’s been passed down through the generations would be a shame. Perhaps next year I’ll take a closer look at sowing by the phases of the moon and just see what happens!

Now that vegetable planting is off my to-do list, it’s a fine time to think about flowers. Perennials are merrily returning, dahlias shared by a neighbor are popping up, and an old rose bush (that is quite finicky) has decided it will bloom this year…always a happy surprise! 

When it comes to flower gardens, I try to keep the age-old advice of Rethink, Reuse, Recycle in mind. I heard someone once describe it as “cheating the landfill” – I love that! Whether we find items at barn sales, thrift shops, flea markets, and yes, even “treasures” being given away for free along a gravel road, with just a little creativity, we can reimagine something new.

My daughter and I have always called these salvaged items Yart (Yard + Art) or Jart (Junk + Art)…the words make me laugh and are so much nicer than “Junk” (gasp)! So what is Yart/Jart? Well, just about anything that gets a second chance…rusty things, farmy things, retro things, vintage things, even broken things.

And so, as I dusted off my Yart/Jart for the garden, I thought I’d share a few of them with you. Some are old, most are rusty, and many of them were free for the taking. I hope they inspire you to “cheat the landfill” this summer. And please, share your ideas as well – sure to inspire us all!

I LOVE old enamelware…there’s just something about it I can’t resist. The pretty robin’s egg blue color is my absolute favorite! Add the swirl design and I’m in heaven. If you’ve looked these pieces over, you’ve noticed they’re not only rusty in spots, but usually have several holes in the bottom. 

While they’re no longer useful for toting water, those holes are ideal for drainage! Old enamelware can be filled with potting soil and your favorite annuals, and in an instant, you’ve brought a vintage piece back to life.

Just think of all the clever uses for enamelware buckets, cups, bowls, coffeepots, pie pans, pitchers, funnels, pots & pans…the options are endless! Slip a little something extra inside such as tarnished silverware, a tiny tart pan, or even a rusty spring and you’ve created something new.

Watering cans will rust over time, or if water has been left inside them through a frosty winter, it freezes and pops the bottom seams. No worries, it’s still useful! Slip a canning jar filled with cut flowers inside and you have a quick summertime centerpiece.

You can also keep it simple and just tuck a patriotic flag inside.

What about old kitchen gadgets? While too rusty for sifting flour, this sifter makes a great home for tiny hens & chicks.

A retro dustpan takes on new life with those same little hens & chicks (they multiply like crazy!)

As does this rusty chicken waterer…it’s easy to add some lettering with a permanent marker.

Vintage garden tools are a great second-hand find. Keep your eyes open for them at neighborhood yard sales. Tools that are seen as no longer useful, can often be found for a song. Put to work in a new way, they add whimsy to a garden…this old rake head was just what a climbing clematis needed.

A broken cultivator helps prop open the window on a cold frame,

while a rusty shovel marks just where the herb garden is,

Arrange mismatched silverware or broken dishes in with your flowers, 

Did I say broken dishes?

About that box of Fiestaware dishes I dropped…yikes! Truth be known, the bottom of the box gave way; however, I should have been more careful. Anyway, I was lucky that only a few were broken. And since I just couldn’t toss them away, I tucked them into flower pots for a pop of color. 

Maybe you could use an old masonry tool for a door knob…this one is on a little greenhouse.

About those “freebies” at the end of a gravel drive? Let’s just say I’m always on the lookout. How does that saying go? ”One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” It’s so true!

This metal cabinet that once supported a vintage sink was spruced up with just a little paint…and went from this:

to my roadside veggie stand.

A trough that someone else found too rusty to be useful, now sits in the garden,

I love the adventure of seeing what’s hiding in the barn ready to be reused in a new way. I was lucky to find a pair of old washtubs which I filled with flowers.

A 6-pane window and chippy window box were quickly connected with screws…now they sit beside the chicken run and garden to dress up a potting table.

And even more Yart/Jart – just for fun!

This last idea was a bit more work, but nothing you can’t do! The barn has oodles of doors in it; however, most of them have been secured to a wall. I’m guessing at one time farmers used them as additional “insulation.”

Luckily for me, two doors sitting off to the side were perfect for an arbor idea I’d seen elsewhere. I gave them a fresh coat of paint, inserted rebar into the bottom of each door for stability, and then added three cross pieces for extra strength.

I sat geraniums on top of metal buckets I also found in the barn. While I’m not sure exactly what they were used for (both have a small triangular cut-out on each side), a friend who grew up on a dairy farm thinks they may be 1950’s calf feeder buckets. And the little pail on the bench…that may be a milk bucket; it has a spigot and quart measurements marked inside. If you have any ideas on what their history may be, I’d love to know!

So, are you ready to make a super-simple piece of Yart/Jart for your own backyard? This wind chime can be made with anything you like…I happened to have a vintage potato masher, but you could use a retro egg beater, whisk, or even use a colander!

You’ll need:

a kitchen gadget
beads and baubles for decoration
thin wire, fishing line, or strong nylon thread
a drill with a small drill bit
random pieces of old silverware
hammer/heavy mallet

Start the fun by searching for a kitchen gadget!

Then begin to flatten the silverware. Pound each piece with a hammer or mallet – older silverware is thinner and will be the easiest to flatten, modern stainless steel will take some extra elbow grease. If you have stubborn pieces that just won’t flatten, you can insert them into a vice as another option.

Using a small drill bit, make a hole at the top of each piece of silverware; set them aside.

Tie several lengths of wire/fishing line/nylon string through openings on your gadget..make it extra long so you have plenty of length to work with.

String your beads & baubles on each length of wire/fishing line/nylon thread any way you’d like. For this wind chime, strong nylon thread was used so knots could be tied between the beads, but you can absolutely slide the baubles on and stack them. Just remember not to go to the end of your wire/fishing line/nylon thread, because you still need to add the silverware.

When you have your beads on, tie a knot or twist the wire beneath the last one to keep everything in place. Slip the end of the wire/fishing line/nylon thread through the hole in a piece of silverware, and tie another knot or twist the wire to keep the silverware secure. Continue until you’ve added all the silverware.

Now, hang your masterpiece and wait for a breeze!

Wherever you are, I hope you’re delighting in the month of June…while some of you are harvesting radishes and spring onions, others across the miles are heading into fall weather. What’s terrific is that no matter where we are, we can share ideas, encourage one another, and learn something new. I’m so happy to be part of this farmgirl sisterhood.

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit!

  1. Joan Piercy says:

    Wonderful ideas! Love your YART/JART. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mary Murray says:

      Hi Joan, I’m glad you liked the ideas…I hope you found something you can use. Thanks a bunch for visiting!

  2. Debbie Fischer says:

    All your found treasures repurposed are so unique and lovely. I too love Yart/Jart and reuse vintage pieces often for the down home country look.
    Thank you for giving me a few more ideas.
    Enjoy summer Mary.

    • Mary Murray says:

      Debbie, so glad to find a Yart/Jart kindred spirit! It’s fun to try and see how to work those old pieces in. Please share some of your ideas – I’d love to know!

  3. Donna Carroll says:

    I have just started receiving your magazine and I love your blog. My sister her husband and I bought a 140 year old stone farmhouse near Studley Kansas. The history of this place and the people who built it is very heartwarming. Something of which we all need in the times we live in. The property is beautiful and so is the house. It is a dream come true for us. I look forward to learning all I can from you and your readers. Always Donna Carroll

    • Mary Murray says:

      Welcome Donna, we’re so glad you’ve joined us! The stone farmhouse sounds wonderful…don’t you just love the history and workmanship that come with an old house? And I couldn’t agree more; learning about the past is heartwarming (a terrific word, thank you!) in these fast-paced times. Again, so happy you’re here!

  4. Karen Martell says:

    I love the Yart/Jart concept! 🙂 I’ve been using an old stock pot and an old canner to plant flowers in for a few years! I love the rusty, aged look…especially when brimming with beautiful geraniums! 🙂

    • Mary Murray says:

      Hi Karen, what a good idea – both the stockpot and canner are so roomy, they’d look terrific filled with flowers! I love that you “cheated the landfill!” So glad you shared your clever idea…I think I have an old canner that just might work – I’ll be looking for it – thanks for sharing your Yart/Jart!

  5. Jules says:

    I’ve never heard of yart or jart before. I love how you’ve repurposed everything, especially that potato masher. Xx

    • Mary Murray says:

      Hi Jules…the words are silly I know, my daughter and I made them up (at least I’ve never heard them before) just to describe all the “things” that seem to need a new purpose. So glad you like the potato masher – I’ve seen old metal teapots and tin measuring cups used as well…I think anything is a windchime possibility!

  6. TheCrankyCrow says:

    One of my most favorite posts yet, I think. Not only are your ideas and creativity in repurposing the old amazing, your photos are absolutely stunning! I have always used landfill-bound items for my gardening and yard decor. For years, my husband joked that he and our son had to hide their workboots at night or they’d wake up and find them planted with something. Eventually, however, he “caught on” and started bringing things home for me to use. Almost all my annuals are planted in old metal ware, etc. but my prized possession is my “cornzebo” – an old corncrib we converted to a gazebo (complete with a chandelier LOL). ~Robin~ (PS – I grew up on dairy farm too – we had pails like the one on your arbor bench. We used it to feed calves milk if, for some reason they couldn’t feed from their mothers – or supplements that were mixed with water, etc. – if needed. A nipple type thing was attached to the spout.)

    • Mary Murray says:

      Oh, thank you so much Robin for the kind compliments…outdoor photography has always been fun for me. And I have a kindred spirit in Jart/Yart – I filled the kids’ polka-dot rain boots with flowers when they outgrew them… I agree – anything is fair game! Now about your Cornzebo – you are a mind reader. I am SO jealous…I’ve wanted one for years! I have it all planned out in my mind…I’d screen it in (awful mosquitoes in summer here) and then put either a round picnic table inside, or some chairs for relaxing. And a chandelier – why, of course!! Okay Robin, you’ve inspired me…I’ve seen a “lonely” one beside a field not far from here – I’ll knock on the nearest farmhouse door and see if it’s for sale. Not sure how it could be moved, but we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it – thanks for giving me a little nudge that direction!

  7. daisy says:

    So many great ideas! I made a wind chime out of old, rusting canning rings. I also have an affinity for enamelware. The cabinet turned farmstand is delightful!
    Hope your summer is going just the way you like it! Continued blessings…

    • Mary Murray says:

      A canning ring wind chime is a clever idea, Daisy…I love it, and the more rust, the better! Thank you..the cabinet was free and it only took some spray paint and two supports for the ribbon garland to spruce it up – so easy. Since that picture was taken, I made a platform with wheels to help move it around easier – that’s the hardest part, keeping it upright as it bumps along on the gravel! Happy summer wishes to you, too – thanks for stopping here to visit.

  8. Cathy says:

    I was into jart before it was a thing. I have always loved the unusual.

    • Mary Murray says:

      You’re ahead of your time, Cathy, and I’m sure some of your yart/jart inspired others to do the same! Some things are just too “valuable” for me to toss. No, not for the money they would bring, but just because I have always loved old things. That rusty horseshoe and leaky laundry tub will never be used for their original purposes again, but that’s okay…they make my heart happy. So glad yart/jart is catching on!

  9. Staci says:

    Such a sweet post filled with so many ideas! I love it all and that little farmstand is absolutely adorable. 💗

    • Mary Murray says:

      Thanks so much, Staci! It’s amazing what can be found for free…and a little spray paint makes all the difference. I did keep the sink that was with it…someday it will be in my “dream” kitchen. It’s like the clawfoot tub that was tucked in the dark recesses of our basement. I refuse to give up…somehow I will restore it and haul it up two flights of stairs to the bathroom!

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