How to Make Decorative Garden and Row Markers

Taking the time to create decorative garden and row markers today can add fun to your garden this summer, and possibly many summers to come. And adding fun to those otherwise mundane gardening chores is what it is all about!

Decorative garden and row markers are more for fun than utilitarian. Although by using one you can identify if a particular patch is designated for herbs, vegetables or flowers, it is primarily just that – decorative.

Originally, row markers were used to keep each row straight. Having a garden with rows aided with hoeing down weeds, and gave a clear path between rows to prevent stepping on plants while harvesting.

Some gardeners use plant markers to identify an individual plant. This helps to keep track of a specific variety, or the plant is a ‘hand-me-down’, such as ‘Grandma’s Dalhias’, or ‘Jane’s Tomatoes’. Knowing which plant is which helps when it comes to saving seeds or sharing cuttings with others.

Decorative garden and row markers  can be made using just about anything you have on hand – bottles, rocks, paint stirrers – basically anything that can be stuck in the ground with room to add your label.  As usual, I wanted to take mine a step further.

When we cut stakes for our garden trellises, I noticed that the ‘drops’ from each were too long to toss, but too short to make another trellis. We also had extra slats, so I set all those aside and mulled it over. It took a trip to the Dollar store and down the garden aisle for the final version to take root in my mind. Those pinwheels and metal bugs designed to hang on the edge of a pot were just too fun to pass up!

I headed home, grabbed my drops and spares, and went to work. By the time I was finished, I had fun garden and row markers that perfectly accented the trellises. Are you ready to build your own? Then let’s get started!

decorative garden and row markers

How to Make Decorative Garden and Row Markers

These directions are for 2 decorative garden and row markers:


  • 1 – 2” x 4” x 32” treated board (posts)
  • 1 – 1” x 4” x 8” treated board (caps)
  • 1- 2” x 4” x 11” treated board (slats)
  • Table Saw
  • Drill
  • Small Nails and hammer – or- staples & staple gun
  • 1/8” Drill Bit and Drill
  • Sandpaper –1 piece of 120, 1 piece of 220
  • Paint (you can use latex or oil based in any color you choose!)
  • Gorilla Glue or other type of glue
  • Ornament (pinwheels and garden bugs came from Dollar General and were $1.00 each)

Cut the 2” x 4” x 32” treated board in half lengthwise, to give you two 2” x 2” x 32” posts. Using a pencil, mark one end of your post in a ‘V’ shape for a pointed end (this end will be pushed into the soil). On the other end, mark the center of the post with an ‘X’. Using the drill and bit, drill a hole at least 2” deep.

Cut the 1” x 4” x 8” treated board in half, to create two 4” x 4” squares. Draw an ‘X’ on each square to find the center. Using the drill and bit, drill a hole in at the center mark all the way through.

Lay the treated 2” x 4” x 11” board flat on the table saw, and cut 5/16” slats. (If I were you, I would cut the entire board into slats – you may want to make more decorative garden and row markers!)

Using a piece of 120 sandpaper, sand all edges of your stake, cap and slats until all rough edges are removed. Change to a piece of 220, and sand until the wood is smooth. With a dry, or barely damp cloth, wipe down all the pieces to remove any residual dust. If you use even a barely damp cloth, set the boards aside to completely dry for at least 15 to 30 minutes.)

Paint each of the pieces in the paint and color you choose. (I prefer Latex paint, mainly because of the ease with the cleanup. But exterior oil-based paint will last a bit longer.) Set aside to dry thoroughly (at least an hour or more, depending on the temperature). Add a second coat, and allow to dry completely.

decortive garden and row markers

To Assemble your Decorative Garden and Row Markers

Measure 6” down from the top of the post. Center your slat and nail or staple into place.

In my case, the pinwheel I used had a long wire stem, with a decorative piece at the top. Using a pair of wire snips, cut the piece 2-1/4” below the bottom of the ‘V’.

Add Gorilla Glue (or other wood glue) to the top of the post. Push the stem of the pinwheel through the top of the cap and insert into the hole in the post. Straighten it, and set aside to completely dry.

Once the paint and glue is completely dry, it is time to add any wording you want on your decorative garden and row markers. If using them for specific plant rows, such as squash, peppers, or tomatoes, then paint that word on the slat. If using it for a decorative garden marker, simply add the word ‘Vegetables’, ‘Herbs’ or ‘Flowers’. From there, you can leave it plain and simple, or add decorative touches such as flowers, hand-drawn veggies or leaves and vines to your marker.

If you choose to use the metal garden bugs, place them where you want them, and add a touch of glue at the base of each leg to hold in place after all the painting is done and completely dry.  

A Few Notes for your Decorative Garden and Row Markers

If you cannot find pinwheels, feel free to add caps that match the garden trellises you just made, using the directions in that post. Or, you can add any type of decorative item, whether purchased or made with natural items around your home.

If you use something with a stem similar to the pinwheel, you may need to enlarge the hole you drilled. Just measure the end of the stem, and get a same-size drill bit, or one just slightly larger.

And if you REALLY want to go all out…..

Consider making enough of these decorative garden and row markers to make a fun fence around a small garden. Simply tap them in the ground with the slats touching. Now THAT would be the cutest idea I have seen yet!  (Hmm…I wonder if the Country Boy is busy this weekend. I may need about 50 more decorative garden and row markers…)

Don’t Miss these Other Fun Posts!

The Shaker Garden

Vegetables in the Shaker Garden

Herbs in the Shaker Garden

How to Make Seed Trays

Make Your Own Seed Packets

How to Make a Scarecrow

Add Fun and Whimsy to your Garden with Garden Trellises

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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