I'm also incredibly cheap when it comes to garden decor. It is true, I do love the challenge of creating my own pieces of art ... but it's more true that I simply refuse to pay art haus prices for something I know I can make for under $50 (or for free, even).
You can make these pieces from things you have around the house, items you've collected, salvaged, or thrifted, and some of the cheapest supplies your local Lowe's has to offer.
Bonus: Nothing here is hard to make. In fact, you can probably figure out how to make these pieces using common sense and a glance at the photo.
Stepping Stones -- These are deceptively simple to make, and it’s one project where you determine the budget and materials. Pick pre-made stones from the hardware store or cast your own. Design a mosaic pattern to be laid with stained glass or use colorful broken china from the thrift store. Attach the pieces using an outdoor adhesive, grout, and then seal. That’s it!
Luminaries -- These are particularly great around the patio, or in a sitting space you’ve created out in the garden. I use tin coffee cans (or soup cans, if I’m going to hang them) and using a hammer and nail, I poke holes -- sometimes random, sometimes in a lacy pattern. I love to put citronella candles in these and light them for a nighttime get-together -- they’re pretty and they keep the bugs away! Painting them ensures that they stay pretty during the daylight hours as well.
Bird Baths -- There are nine million ways to make a birdbath. I’ve created a mosaic over a pre-made bath from the hardware store. You could use a pretty shallow bowl or dish -- you could simply place it in the nook of a tree or on a stump. Or go a bit more complex and use a spiral of flexible copper tubing to support the bowl and a copper pipe (both from the hardware store) to plant it in the ground. Over time, the copper will develop a gorgeous patina.
Copper Trellis -- This is one of my favorite pieces to make, and it creates big impact in the garden. You’ll need copper pipe, a pipe cutter, and pipe joints from the hardware store. By cutting the pipe to different lengths and using the joints, you can create a geometric trellis to grow everything from jasmine to tomatoes!
Hypertufa Leaf Casting -- Hyper-wha? That was my reaction the first time I heard it, too. Hypertufa is basically fake stone made using Portland cement, sand, vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss. Recipes vary, but you get the idea: the mixture lets you make a lightweight product that can then be molded into shapes and used for casting things like giant elephant ear leaves, which will give you awesome “stone” leaves for use as decoration.
Tea-cup Birdfeeder -- I love these, especially using thrifted vintage cups -- the really delicate ones -- and putting them in a group at varying heights. Using a good epoxy, like E600, glue the cup to its saucer, and then glue a small length of copper pipe or a pipe cap to the underside of the saucer. Then just glue a round dowel or length of pipe into that and you’re done! You can mix this up by creating a tower of cups and saucers or even using tall bud vases as part of the sculpture. If you would rather hang your feeders, use something like a Dremel tool to drill small holes that you can use to thread wire or chain through.
Wind chimes -- Wind chimes are super easy to make and limited only by your imagination. Use capiz shells (or other shells you’ve collected), copper piping, silverware, chandelier crystals, cheap wooden or metal bangles, dried bamboo from the floral section … all you need is something to string them with (string, wire, chain) and something to string them from (a metal ring, pretty saucer, small silver tray). And don’t forget that you can accessorize your chimes with beads, sea glass, and iridescent marbles!