Spring Projects and Spray Paint

Buster the bear relaxing in his wicker chair, enjoying the day.

We have a running joke in our house about how you know it’s Spring: it’s because Bev is bringing out the cans of spray paint.

Yup, you heard right.

Spray paint.

I’m a huge fan of eclectic yard art.  It started out when I was a kid.  Dad was an avid bowler.  He went through several bowling balls a year.  Rather than just toss (ha!) them out, Mom would paint them and use them to decorate the garden.  They were pretty festive.  Dad didn’t mind much, because it meant he could keep getting new bowling balls when it suited him and Mom would have something new to paint.

Mom would also find other bits and bobs at the local junk shop.  We had everything from horse bridles to old tools scattered around the yard. Sometimes she’d paint them, but others were left au natural, to decompose over time.

When I moved to Nevada in 1989, I found a quirky little shot gun styled house to rent, with Victorian details and a pretty little stained-glass window. It was built around the 1870’s and painted two shades of Pepto Bismol pink. A shotgun house is basically a rectangle home of three rooms connected in a row.  There is no hallway, just an opening into each room, one after the other.  If you opened the front door and the back door, you could conceivably shoot a gun from one end of the house to the other, and out the back door, and not hit anything. Thus comes the name: shotgun. The house was on an average city lot and since it was such a small place, 350 sq. ft., the yard felt big. I had fruit trees, several grape vines, and a veggie garden in the back yard with a huge strawberry patch. Along the sides of the house grew bright pink and white holly hocks.  They grew so big, they would flop over if I didn’t stick them to the side of the house.

This was a perfect house for yard art.

I started with wind chimes and little painted mushrooms. I always had a door wreath and during the holidays I went crazy decorating the 11 foot long by 3 foot wide porch.  I loved that little house.  But the neighborhood was a little rough, and 7 years later, I moved.

I was fortunate to find this place in the foothills. It’s a larger, small 1000 sq. ft. home on a little over a3/4 of an acre. We get wild horses during the fall, and lots of rabbits, coyotes, quail, hawks, raccoons, owls, There used to be a llama farm down the road and now they, along with another neighbor both keep peacocks.

Most of our land has been left “natural.”  There is a small patch of grass in front of the house, but the rest has gravel paths winding through stands of sagebrush, desert peach, and rabbitbrush.  We have several garden rooms for sitting and visiting. The summers are hot, so fancy gardens require a lot of time and water to manage. Leaving things natural means I have less to water, but I couldn’t resist trying to put in perennials and fruits trees and bushes in the yard. I’ve just about given up on a veggie patch, though.  I still try but my favorites, squash and cucumbers get ravaged by bugs each year.

If you are at all familiar with our area, the high desert, you might think it’s a bit dull. Most of the native plants look dry and dull and not very green. They are healthy, but they have adapted to our dry climate. Their leaves are small, they have lots of prickles, and have a similar silver pale green color.

While our yard plants might not be very colorful, it makes a perfect backdrop for, you guessed it, yard art.

But not the old style, wind chimes and farm tools, but a much more colorful fare.

Most things I have collected over the years from yard sales, friends, and side of the road. Other stuff I have picked up at the Dollar store, or just brought from inside to be reused outside.

I’ve made signs from fence boards, made planters from old chairs, repainted old tools and wagons, and made trellises out of old gates. And there are lots and lots of gnomes. I’m Swedish and Norwegian, so you have to have some gnomes to help out around the place.

Each year I change things a bit. Sometimes I create a whole new space, sometimes I just move things around a little. But whatever I decide to change, I always bring out the spray paint.

You would be surprised how much color you can add to a blank canvas with one can of paint. 

Or two.

Or three.

This year I’ve been working on the dry creek/ cactus  garden. It’s a spot where I had once tried to grow grass (foolish me!). I wasted more money on water and turf and grass, just trying to get something to grow in this section of the yard. Nothing worked. I wanted to do something to make it  pretty because this spot is at the very front of the yard.  For years, this had remained just a dry, dead patch of ugly ground.  The previous owner had used it for a garbage pit, so there was nothing salvageable.  Well, I take that back. I did find large bolt and some rusty pipes that I could use to decorate with.

But, the one thing we do have in the yard are rocks; lots and lots of rocks.

So one day I got inspired to build a dry creek. Over the years, I added some yuccas from the neighbors, some donkey tail succulents from a friend, and some hen and chick plants from another. I added a few forsythia starts to fill out the bare spots, and had the basics of a garden.

But it was still pretty plain.

That’s when I started to look for decorations and spray paint.

I haven’t looked back.

Next post, I’ll share some finished pictures of the yard. In the meantime, here are some in progress shots.

The “Welcome Dog” in front of Avalanche’s party pad.
Our our classy wicker art chairs in the dry creek garden.
The “in process” bridge. Greg suggested we needed to add a bridge to the dry creek. We are going to deepen the creek and paint some of the rocks a watery blue. And of course, we’ll add some painted fish and a couple of garden gnomes.

‘Till next time,


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