Buffalo Garden DIY garden art

A garden post post

I made some colorful, artsy garden totems for the garden...

I found these on Etsy and they were along the lines of what I was looking for.

Every winter I take on a project or two I can make in my basement. I’ve seen these beautiful poles often online – many on Pinterest. I found these on Etsy for sale. They were along the lines of what I wanted. They range in price from $310 for the tallest to $170 for the shortest.

I like them because they can add a good amount of color to the garden year round and without taking up too much ground space. I haven’t seen too many in gardens I’ve visited (and I’ve visited a lot of gardens!). They’re called garden totems or I’ve seen them called art poles. I’ve seen versions with words of peace and harmony written on them called peace poles.

Of course, I wanted to make my own.

By making my own, I knew I’d save money and be able to customize them with my own colors and patterns. I did buy four pressure-treated 4″x4″s – I had two on hand already. Ultimately, I spent about $200 for everything for the six poles together.

I routed the poles in different spots. It helps break up the poles so they can be painted in sections.

I also wanted to add more dimension to them – by routing into them (I have a barely-used router!) and adding wood ornaments and flourishes. Those I purchased, as well as the finial tops.

The one thing I did not do was buy paint. All the paints used were paints I have on hand from other projects inside and outside the house. A benefit of using paints on hand is that I know the colors are used elsewhere in the garden, from the shed to benches, to house colors. Most were exterior paints, but I have to admit there’s a few interior paints used as well. I’ll have to see how they hold up outdoors. I don’t mind the poles eventually getting a well-worn patina.

They took about three weekends of work.

Routing and two coats of primer were basically the first weekend…

It was a lot of painting. It was two coats of primer and then two coats each of the base colors. And then there was all the detail painting – going back and forth with colors. All those textures and patterns took time. The patterns at the bottom of each were graphic (checkered, dots, diamonds, stripes and harlequin patterns) and needed to be measured, marked, and painted. Toward the tops of the poles there are patterns that I free-handed to look more “organic” (splotches, vines, green leopard spots, and more).

Then there was the gluing, nailing, and paining of the extra ornaments. I still see some spots that need touch ups. But I have the rest of winter to get to them.

Installation plans

I made a total of six totems. I’m thinking I’ll put three in the front yard garden, and have three for the back yard. All six would be a lot in one spot. Setting them up in odd numbers makes visual sense to me.

I intend to drill holes in the bottom of each and insert steel rebar that would stick out a good amount. It’s the rebar that would get pushed into the ground. I’ll probably add glue to the totem hole with the rebar. For the front yard, I may consider adding a bit of concrete mix when “planting” the rebar in the ground. I’m always nervous about theft or damage. To date, I’ve never put anything in my front yard before – no fountains, no art – nothing that can be carried away or vandalized. I learned my lesson. I once put some solar lights out there and they were gone in a week.

Here’s the garden totem project in process

I added store-bought finials and flourishes, but also added 3D blocks made from scrap wood to each pole. Can’t wait to plant them!

Here are some past DIY projects I’ve made

Most winters I do a basement garden art project. Here are some of my past projects:

21 comments on “A garden post post

  1. connie661

    These are so pretty and fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill Buckalew

    They look great. For security you could put the rebar in a bucket of cement and bury the bucket.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dry Oasis Gardening

    Very nice. Art in the garden seems hard to do well. These will definitely add a bit of whimsy to your garden and will perhaps be easy to store in the Winter (if that’s your plan). Maybe I’ll copy the idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Copy away – I did! I hadn’t thought of bringing them in in the winter. I like the idea of having something colorful to look at in the wintertime.


  4. I love this project idea ! easy way to add a bit of color and fun to any corner of the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have no sculpture in my garden, since I’m going for the “woodsy” look, but I enjoy seeing other ideas, such as these in other people’s gardens. They look neat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I considered doing a set of poles in just different colored stains (lord knows I have enough old cans of stains in the basement!). I think in stains they’d look more organic, and not stand out so much in a natural setting.


  6. Jack Mc Kie

    Looks wonderful and the colors fit your place beautifully. I’m planning an obelisk for clematis being painted dark green with a gold finial. Totems, sculpture, obelisks and the like add so much to a garden !

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought about planting some clematis on one or two of these. A few nails here and there would give them something to climb on.


  7. Your color designs are delightful! I recently acquired some old wooden chairs no one wants that are in good standing shape but with the cane seats gone. I plan to paint them this way and add a planter. Should be interesting! Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person


    These are so pretty! When it gets warm outside and I can plant it, I took your idea for the bird house poles, and I will shoot a picture when it is up. You are very inspiring to us all. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hairytoegardener

    Those are terrific. I did something similar with two old balusters I had kicking around. I put a pollinator sign on mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I went looking for used balusters/newel posts when I built my potting table outside my shed – to use as legs. I couldn’t find any at the time. I still keep an eye out for them.


  10. Amazing Jim! Love these


  11. Dyana Fox

    Love your poles! I do paint pouring so mine have that decor as well as solar lights on top but there are tons of things to do with them and we are only limited by our imagination. I sprayed mine with Kumar varnish – 3 coats and my first pole has been out for two years and looking great. I used garden posts/fence post holders to put them in the ground and they are not going anywhere! Love your painting ideas – very cool!


    • Dyana, Thanks for the tips! I did consider lights on top, but decided the finals looked more festive. I hadn’t considered a varnish on top – I will do that! How do the in-ground fence-post-holders work on the 8′ tall poles?


      • Dyana Fox

        No problem. My son pounded them in so just the tops stick out. The hardest part was getting those sticky stickers off them. I have plantings around them and they look great. I had to laugh – one day last summer I noticed a hummingbird going up and down the pole looking at the flowers I painted. So cute!

        Liked by 1 person

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