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Creating A Rustic Look In Your Garden

The garden was the first things we saw, after the facade, when we came to view our house and it was one of the selling points for us. I’ve mentioned it before. The previous owners put of lot of work into creating a welcoming space with various seating areas, shaded by fruit trees and a large, leafy walnut tree.

With two small children at the time and now with three, we simply don’t have the time to tend to the garden as intensively as the former owners did. I often think that if they called by, they would be appalled by the state of the place.


It is not that it is neglected or wild, but it is a whole lot more rustic than before. It is lived in and loved. Loved by a couple who enjoy entertaining, whether planned or spontaneous. Loved by three young boys who like to climb, hide, play with water and kick a ball about. Loved by four chickens who peck and poo and rustle in the bushes.

Our chicken coop, decorated with a salveged window box planted with geramiums. The window is another of my salvaged pieces and the jug came from a flea market. The wooden sign was handmade for us by a good friend.
Our stained old outdoor sink, perfect for washing mucky hands or cleaning freshly picked veg.

The thing is, we like the rustic look and the lived-in feel. Particularly since starting to keep chickens earlier this year, I have found I am bringing together more and more of my flea market buys and salvage finds and finding places for them in the garden. For us the rustic look developed organically, but there has been bit of curation going on recently too.

This folding chair was being dumped. The watering can came from a flea market.
The potting table – a higgeldy piggeldy storage space for all my gardening bits and bobs

If this is the kind of look you want to achieve in your own garden, here are my tips.

  1. Take a look at your garden and see which areas you are happy with, which could do with improvement and which need a lot of work. For a quick fix, work on the areas that need improving.
  2. Gather up anything you already have that might lend a rustic look to your garden – watering cans, shovels, rakes, terracotta pots, old baking tins, logs, lanterns, jugs or even some of the children’s old toys.

    Bricks from a skip, bark from a felled tree, shells we were given a gift of,all thrown together in a salvaged trug.
  3. Visit flea markets and keep an eye out for anything you can salvage, like old red bricks, enamel kitchenware, baskets, tin watering cans, wooden crates, plant pots, old windows, etc.  You will be suprised what you can find when you look.
  4. Gather your finds and group them together by colour or function. A collection of terracotta pots in a variety of shades and sizes can make a lovely feature. Metal planters and old enamel containers or baking tins and make an interesting collection too. Our rustic outdooor kitchen houses a selection of kitchen items we have picked up over the years that are suitable for outdoor use.

    This cute little chicken was out for the bin. The cracked polka dot jug came from a restaurant closing down sale and the coffee pot came from a charity sale.
  5. Don’t be afraid to trick around with things. Move items around the garden until you have a look you like. And it doesn’t have to be permanent. I am forever switching things around in our garden, depending on the season, my mood or the function of the objects. Sometimes a watering can is a watering can, sometimes it is a vase for flowers, another day it might beplaced somewhere to be purely decorative.
    I spotted these dainty litte miniature bottles in an interiors shop in Freiburg. At only 80 cent each, I couldn’t resist them for my potting table.


  6. Forget perfection. A rustic loook is all about slapdash functionality with a bit of prettiness thrown in. So what if there is a crack in a jug, a stain on an enamel jug or a bit of rust on your metal planters. It all adds up to give a vintage rustic look to your garden.
    Styling The Seasons May16_4
    This simple little watering can was a toy for the boys’ sandpit three years ago. Several seasons of it being leftout in all weather has given it a (literally) weather-beaten look, and I love it.

    Rusty charm


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14 thoughts on “Creating A Rustic Look In Your Garden

  1. It looks and sounds wonderful Fionnuala – I think the previous owners would be charmed and delighted to see their former garden being so happily used and loved. I love how, despite your tips, it doesn’t look curated at all, just an organic expression of your family’s life there, which it is really. So Lovely! #HomeEtc

  2. I love your potting table! But my favourite is that fabulously greeny rusty watering can! Although it’s completely not what I’d do in my garden, I love this so much. It has such a wonderful feel to it – I can totally imagine just pottering about in it. #HomeEtc

    1. It is a terrible mess Katy, but I suppose that is the nature of potting tables. My husband built it for me out of an old wood and iron gazebo. Our garden is very much a place for pottering. I can keep busy out there for hours without really getting much done 😉

    1. Best of luck achieving gthe look you want Emily. I find that ignoring everything for a while, leaving the garden furniture and the watering can out in the rain goes a long way towards achieving the chic neglect look. It does need a bit of tidying up now and then though 😉

  3. It looks and sounds idealic Fionnuala. I love the watering can and it looks amazing with the flowers in it. Your little potting table looks like it belongs in a magazine feature x

  4. Aaah I LOVE this look!! Ours is pretty similar — but not nearly as organised!!! I made Dickie throw lots of bits in the skip a few weeks ago — rustic/salvage yard chic is nice but hoarders paradise is NOT!!! So sorry for the late comment lovely!! Hoping I’ll be back on track next week! 🙂 Caro x #HomeEtc

    1. Hey, no worries. After the holiday I’m sure you were up to your eyes.
      I’m sitting here thinking “What did she throw in the skip?” I’m such an addict. But yes, you are right, hoarding can get messy.

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