Skip to main content

Unique Yard Art: Rust Is Beautiful

Beautiful Rust—create unique yard art using scrap metal.

Beautiful Rust—create unique yard art using scrap metal.

Rust Is Beautiful

With the warm spring weather, I've been out doing a little yard work. Looking around out there, I started to think how lucky I am to have such amazing junk everywhere I look. Some people might not think of that as lucky, but they probably don't have the caliber of junk that I have.

Looking at everyday objects from the past and the way they decay makes me feel a connection to those people who lived and worked with them every day.

The Grinding Wheel

The most ordinary, utilitarian tool can be a thing of beauty. I love this old grinding wheel. It was made out of an old wagon wheel; it was originally run by pedal power, but when electricity became widely available, an electric motor was added.

My husband dragged it home from somewhere. Now it occupies a prominent spot on my mom's front porch.

Early Electric Grinding Wheel

Early Electric Grinding Wheel

Biker Centerpiece

When I was planning a party, a friend of mine made this creative centerpiece out of an old motorcycle gas tank. She has amazing ideas, and even more cool junk at her house than I do at mine.

I still use the centerpiece on my outdoor table every year. Some of the flowers grow back, and I add new ones every spring.

Harley Gas Tank Centerpiece

Harley Gas Tank Centerpiece

Hanging Planter Made From Motorcycle Fenders

The same amazing lady who made the above centerpiece also created this hanging planter from motorcycle fenders. She's a true motorcycle enthusiast and a very imaginative lady. She designed and built this thing herself, and gave it to me for my birthday.

It's a real focal point for the front patio. You really can't help but notice it when you drive up to my house. It elicits many compliments.

Motorcycle Fender Hanging Planter

Motorcycle Fender Hanging Planter

Western Town Boardwalk

When we bought our property, it had this old western-style boardwalk on it. My husband thought it was butt ugly and wanted to tear it down. Everyone that came to the house raved about how cool it was, and eventually, he became convinced to leave it. It is a nice shady spot to sit in the summertime, and the perfect spot to store and display some of this cool, old stuff. Things do tend to pile up on it though.

Some of the things I see on display there include an old wooden wine keg, saddlebags off an old Indian motorcycle, and a cowbell. There is a big wooden mallet; it looks like one of those mallets that they used on High Striker, an old carnival game where you hit a target and it shoots a puck up the tower to ring a bell if you hit it hard enough.

I see an old jack and a couple of jack stands, a small animal trap, a branding iron, an iron cobblers shoe form, and assorted cast iron skillets.

Junk on the Boardwalk

Junk on the Boardwalk

Assortment of Rustic Junk

The picture at the top left is a birdhouse built from driftwood, beside it is a cow skull, the photo below them is an old vise, a jack, and some oil cans. At the bottom are some old tools and kitchenware.

Assorted Rustic Stuff

Assorted Rustic Stuff

Garden Rock

Year after year we wondered why nothing grew very well in one corner of our garden. A couple of years ago I was turning the soil when my shovel hit a rock. I tried to dig it out but just couldn't find the edge.

I called in reinforcements and my husband got in there with his tractor. It's a good thing he had one because that is one monster rock. The dog next to it is about 30 pounds, just to give an idea of the size.

I think the rock looks great sitting by the driveway. It is a real statement piece and the cats love to sun themselves on it.

Giant Boulder

Giant Boulder

Ore Car From the Mining Days

Not only do I love the look of this ore car, but it represents the rich mining history of the beautiful Sierra foothills where I live.

Rail cars like this were used in the hard rock mines to haul ore that contained gold to the surface. They were towed by horses or mules.

Ore Car

Ore Car

Rustic Wheelbarrow: A Yard Sale Find

My husband brought this home from a yard sale. He said, after he'd already paid the man, the man's wife came out of the house and got mad that her husband had sold it. He hightailed it out of there quick, but I feel kind of bad for that lady, I wouldn't have wanted to part with it either.

It will look beautiful with flowers planted around it.

Vintage Wheelbarrow

Vintage Wheelbarrow

Burned Out 1951 Harley Flathead: The Liberator

This old motorcycle has been in a fire, my husband brought it home with the intent of getting it running again. I just love the rusty patina on it.

This is a 1951 WL 45 cu in flathead that has a 1942 WWII motor. The WL was nick-named liberator for its wide use in the Pacific and Europe during WWII.

The solo model Flathead 45 cu was discontinued in 1952, making all post-war solo models rare. The 45 cubic inch Flathead three-wheeler was made all the way up into the '70s. It was popular for police and other municipal functions because of its dependable motor and economic cost.

I don't know if this bike will ever be road ready again, but I really love the way it looks sitting in the yard.

1951 Harley Flathead—the mother of all yard art.

1951 Harley Flathead—the mother of all yard art.

Use Your Imagination

Old stoves, wringer washing machines, and other appliances, vintage cast iron toys, plows, wooden ladders, and old garden tools can make great additions to your landscape. A friend of mine has made a lovely display in her yard using old bathroom fixtures (porcelain pedestal sink and claw foot bathtub, etc).

When you see an interesting old item that can be had for cheap or free, it just takes a little bit of vision to see how it can add interest to your home or garden.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on June 14, 2014:

Great hub Sherry. I love to collect old items from garage sales and junk yards that catch the eye to use as garden art, so this article really appealed. Voted up.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 20, 2013:

Thanks Sue Bailey. I think that's a nice little site, I hope it does well.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 15, 2013:

Hi DonnaC Smith, old wood is the best! There's just something about the way metal and wood age that makes them more beautiful.

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on May 15, 2013:

I love rust, too! In my photography I am always drawn to old barns and other buildings with beautiful rusty tin roofs. Gives such wonderful contrast to the silvery weathered wood.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 25, 2013:

That planter gets so many comments, it's a pretty special piece. I'm sure my friend was very careful not to use any fenders that her husband thought were valuable.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on January 24, 2013:

Brilliant idea for a hub! I love the motorcycle fender planters! My husband would die though if I started digging through his spare parts! Love all the great photos!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 27, 2012:

That's so true Cathy, thanks for your comment.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 27, 2012:

Thanks for reading Pavio Badovskyy. I'm glad you like the hub and the rusty stuff. Of course all feedback is welcome here. I appreciate your honesty.

Ms. Immortal from NJ on November 27, 2012:

I agree, old rusty objects can be beautiful and it is fun to discover the history that goes along with it.

Pavlo Badovskyi from Kyiv, Ukraine on November 27, 2012:

Great Hub!!!! I love old things which have their own life and history. Is it OK to tell what I did not like? :)) Dividers in the form of barbed wire looks irritating (just to my opinion) :)))

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on November 27, 2012:

I enjoyed reading about old junk and how it is turned into a work of art. Great hub. Voted up.

Scott Ervin from Russellville, Tennessee on June 20, 2012:

Hey Sherry,

Wow. I really like your photos. I just wrote a squidoo lens a fews days ago to promote my sister's primitive crafts business. I made the comment "the most rust the better"! I really enjoyed your posting! Thanks Scott

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on June 03, 2012:

How I wish I could see things like those on the photos. The saddle bags, an old Indian motorcycle, a cow bell, animal traps... are all part of my dreams. Just reading your hub feels like I journeyed back for a moment. Oh those sweet old times and so much to cherish old stuffs. I very much loved the thoughts on old cast iron skillets.

Thank you for this Sherry, I loved everything! Voted up, interesting, awesome and useful! Take care.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 24, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting Sparkle Chi. I'm glad you appreciate my photos.

Cate from Chandler, AZ on May 23, 2012:

Beautiful photos showing the beauty that is everything around us. I love finding and repurposing rusty old stuff!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 15, 2012:

Thanks so much for your comment coolenconnections. The boulder is much better above ground in the yard than buried in the garden. I was actually just outside taking photos, I have a couple of things to add to this hub, so check back later.

Suzanne Grisold from Sarnia on May 15, 2012:

Very cool hub! I love the hanging planter idea. The boulder is awesome! That was a buried treasure. The garden center across the street from me sells them for a small fortune!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 09, 2012:

Always a pleasure to meet another rust fan, thanks for reading pstraubie48

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 09, 2012:

Clever these far as the whole rust things goes, I am definitely a fan. I have a rusty milk can and a rusty wheel in my flower bed..two of my prized possessions.

Thanks for allowing me to pick your brain via the internet.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 26, 2012:

Thanks so much for commenting ishwaryaa22, I love the grinding wheel too, and I'm glad you appreciate my barbed wire dividers.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on April 25, 2012:

An interesting peep into your rust collection. I just have heard of junk art but have not seen much of them. Your hub opened my eyes. They not only added a unique touch to your home décor but also are economical. Your friend Dana is very smart and her hanging planter is a cool idea! The grinding wheel is the one I admired the most among your amazing collection! I found it so beautiful! Barbed wire dividers added more visual appeal and sync well with this engaging hub!

Thanks for SHARING. Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

Hi Mike, I know you love the rusty stuff. Thanks for reading.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

Thank you Heather Says, my dog Heidi was so cooperative lying next to the boulder to have her picture taken. I'm glad you appreciated it.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

It was fun taking the photos. Enjoy the gardening Janet. Thanks for reading.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

I really appreciate your comment Dolores Monet, it's amazing how beautiful decay can be. An old cast iron stove is a real prize, and now you have it's footprint.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

Thanks for the praise mactavers, I can't get a way from the junk so it's better I appreciate it. Glad you do too.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

Thanks Peggy W, rust is actually quite popular for accent pieces in the yard.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 23, 2012:

I think there's plenty of room for more rust moonlake. I'm sure your rust is special, I'd love to see it.

moonlake from America on April 23, 2012:

I have my rust all ready and was going to do a hub on the beauty of rust.

I guess I'll put that hub away. It's funny when I think of something than all at once there's a hub on it. It's like you were looking right in my computer. I think it's funny around here we have to be fast or miss out. Your hub is great and I like all the pictures. Love the boardwalk.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on April 23, 2012:

Love the rust and the rustic stuff! I left a cast iron decorative piece laying out on a slab of salvaged white marble. When I finally got around to picking it up, I saw that the iron had rusted, leaving a perfect outline of itself on the marble. My son said he'd clean it off, but I said to leave it - it looked so cool!

knucklehead mike on April 23, 2012:

cool stuff good story nice to read love that rust

Janet Pecoraro on April 23, 2012:

Another interesting hub! I loved the photos; 33 years moving out of Sugarloaf, I moved back last fall (right next door to my daughter, Jamie and family on Riverside near the forest boundary). Besides digging out my cast iron to cook and bake, I want to dig out my rocks and plant flowers this summer, and of course, plant bulbs in the fall.

I love your hubs and hope you continue!

Heather from Arizona on April 23, 2012:

Too cool! I love rust also. You have a pretty nice collection going. I loved the pics-- especially the boulder and doggy. Up and beautiful!

mactavers on April 23, 2012:

Junk really is an art, and I love seeing old things recycled into art or other useful items. Wonderful photos

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 23, 2012:

I think that rustic and rusted objects mixed into a garden can add nice touches of interest. A friend and I visited a place called Martha's Bloomers which is a nursery, has shops, a restaurant, etc. and they use such objects in their décor. They also sell similar things. I actually wrote a hub about it because it turned out to be such a fun day. Looks like your collection is a great one! If your husband actually gets that burned out Harley to work again and should document that and write about it. He is obvously quite the mechanic! Voting this interesting, useful and beautiful. Beauty truly IS in the eye of the beholder! :)