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DIY Chalkboard Garden Markers

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As gardening season hits full swing, I’ve been inspired to find ways to bring a bit of whimsy and fun to the garden. Carole at Garden Up Green got me thinking about this when I read her book Startle Garden

I am by nature not super fancy, but the ideas she presented about “dressing up” our garden beds appealed to me. Add that to my desire to use what’s available and not spend a lot of money, and the DIY chalkboard garden marker was born.

DIY Chalkboard Garden Markers

While thinking about what I could use in the garden as markers, I knew I wanted something durable. No one wants to replace labels year after year. And while the little plastic labels that come in many purchased plants are useful, they lack beauty. 

Choosing the style of DIY garden markers

Flatware is incredibly durable, and even when exposed to rain and weather, they should hold up beautifully. It’s also a great way to reuse something that may already be available. If you have extra spoons, forks, or knives laying around, then you’re all set! If not, check out your local thrift store or put a call out on Facebook for anyone who may have some extras laying around. That’s actually what did. (Thanks, Dede!)

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You could also use wooden spoons, but just note that they won’t hold up as well outdoors due to the weather and other conditions, but you do you!

This DIY craft can easily be done in an afternoon, and most of the time spent is passive while the paint dries. These DIY garden makers are a fun way to add whimsy and organization to your vegetable garden or flower garden, also think about who you could gift these beauties to. 

Homemade gifts are sweet tokens to our friends and family, and these garden markers would be perfect for any garden lover you know. With spring’s arrival comes Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Day. These would be perfect gifts for either occasion. The kids can get involved in writing the labels and wrapping or preparing the gifts. See the bottom of the post for gifting ideas and other beautiful garden markers you can make in a pinch!

DIY Chalkboard Garden Markers

Supplies

​It’s always a great idea to have your supplies on hand before you begin a project. Here’s what you’ll need to get from the craft store or your local big box store to get started on this easy project:

How to Make DIY Garden Markers

  1. Begin by making sure your utensils are clean and dry. Dirt and water are no good when it comes to painting. Prep your painting area by finding an empty box. For items that need to stand up to be painted, boxes are perfect. Simply jab small slits in the box with a knife or boxcutter and slide utensils into the slots. It’s okay if they’re not perfectly upright, as long as what is being painted isn’t resting on the box. 
DIY Garden Markers
  1. Shake your paint can well and begin painting using the instructions on the can. Give time for paint to dry and come back for a second coat. 
DIY Garden Markers
  1. Once your second coat has dried, let them cure overnight. I don’t know that this absolutely essential, but I always like to be safe when it comes to paint. After this, you can label to your heart’s content!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Complete Garden Planner
  2. There are two labeling options: 1. Chalk or Chalk Pens- this is perfect if you plan to use the garden markers in different places and want to be able to erase and rewrite. The downside is if they are outside, a good rain shower could erase your label. 2. Metallic Sharpie– This is a great, more permanent marking. Since I tend to have the same herbs and veggies each year, I wanted a bolder less weather-prone label. You’re free to choose the method that works best for you! 
DIY Garden Markers
  1. Optional: For longer lasting labeling, coat the garden markers in a clear top coat that will help them hold up in the wind and weather. You can find the Rust-Oleum brand at any hardware store or on Amazon. 
  2. Place your garden markers in your flower beds, garden space, or containers (like my DIY Self-Watering Planter) and enjoy! And while these are designed for an herb garden, you could easily use these markers to identify anything you have growing in the garden, such as different salad greens, root veggies, or types of tomatoes. The possibilities are endless!
DIY garden marker in raised bed

How to Care for DIY Garden Markers

Once your growing season has ended, or the plant you were labeling has passed on, remove the garden marker from the soil and gently clean it. If you’re going to replant the same thing, then carry on, but if not, store your markers in a dry place such as garage or shed. 

​Pull them out the following year, touching up any labeling as needed. If you’re marking a perennial plant, such as rosemary, then check your label every year or so to see what kind of touching up it needs, and if you are using the label constantly, then I highly recommend the optional step above of using a top coat. 

Give Garden Markers as a Gift

If you’re looking to make these DIY garden markers into a gift for a friend or family member who loves gardening, then consider some of these gifting ideas to spruce up the garden markers and share your hard work! I find that these are an especially fun idea for kids to make for grandparents with a grown ups help, of course. 

  • Wrap five or six garden markers in colorful ribbon with a small bag of chalk. Also include seed packets for the corresponding DIY garden markers to help the gift receiver get started. 
  • Create a small herb garden in a wooden box or a galvanized bucket and label the DIY markers with those plant names. See my full tutorial for how to create a Mason Jar Herb Container or a DIY Herb Garden in a wooden crate
  • For teacher gifts, plant a flower or herb in a pot and place an accompanying garden marker inside. Have a different herb for each teacher! Rosemary and basil are both wonderful options for a teacher gift!

Other DIY Garden Marker Ideas

These DIY chalkboard garden markers aren’t the only option out there. I’ve got another post where I use can lids to paint garden markers, and there are really so many more. Here are some other ideas you can use to create simple diy plant markers in your garden. 

  • Painted Garden Markers: See my full tutorial for how I used can lids and mason jar lids to create fun plant labels. This is a great activity for the kids to help with as well!
  • Wine corks on skewers: I’ve seen this idea floating around of plant names written in permanent marker on wine corks. Place them on a long skewer and voila, instant label!
  • Popsicle stick and sharpie: When I’m planting vegetables from seed at the beginning of the season, this is my go-to marker. It’s clearly not going to last for very long, but it gives me the label I need in a pinch and holds up long enough. This is also what we use for our Master Gardener plant sale because frankly, popsicle sticks are cheap and easy to come by. 
  • Paint Stirrer Garden Markers: Much like my beloved popsicle sticks, paint stirrers could definitely be used to label different plants in your garden. Paint stick garden markers can be left unpainted and simply labeled with paint pens or permanent markers. This is a good use of paint stirrers if you happen to have a few laying around. 

I’d love to know how you mark the plants in your garden or raised beds just by using items from around the house! Comment below and let us know your ideas or what you have tried; I find that gardeners really may be some of the most creative folks out there!

Have a great week and Happy Gardening!

Yield: 6-8 Garden Markers

DIY Garden Markers

DIY Garden Markers

Create DIY garden markers in a day using old spoons and knives! WIth a little bit of paint and some chalk or paint pens, you can have sturdy and fun labels for your vegetable, flower, or herb garden!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • Various old spoons, knives, and forks
  • Chalkboard paint (I used the spray paint version for ease)
  • Chalk, Metallic Sharpies, or paint markers (or just acrylic paint if you have a steady hand)
  • Clear Top Coat for Metal such as Rust-Oleum Spray Top Coat

Tools

  • Cardboard box

Instructions

  1. Begin by making sure your utensils are clean and dry. Dirt and water are no good when it comes to painting. Prep your painting area by finding an empty box. For items that need to stand up to be painted, boxes are perfect. Simply jab small slits in the box with a knife or boxcutter and slide utensils into the slots. It's okay if they're not perfectly upright, as long as what is being painted isn't resting on the box. 
  2. Shake your paint can well and begin painting using the instructions on the can. Give time for paint to dry and come back for a second coat. 
  3. Once your second coat has dried, let them cure overnight. I don't know that this absolutely essential, but I always like to be safe when it comes to paint. After this, you can label to your heart's content!  
  4. There are two labeling options: 1. Chalk or Chalk Pens- this is perfect if you plan to use the garden markers in different places and want to be able to erase and rewrite. The downside is if they are outside, a good rain shower could erase your label. 2. Metallic Sharpie- This is a great, more permanent marking. Since I tend to have the same herbs and veggies each year, I wanted a bolder less weather-prone label. You're free to choose the method that works best for you!
  5. Optional: For longer lasting labeling, coat the garden markers in a clear top coat that will help them hold up in the wind and weather. You can find the Rust-Oleum brand at any hardware store or on Amazon.
  6. Place your garden markers in your flower beds, garden space, or containers (like my DIY Self-Watering Planter) and enjoy! And while these are designed for an herb garden, you could easily use these markers to identify anything you have growing in the garden, such as different salad greens, root veggies, or types of tomatoes. The possibilities are endless!

Notes

Caring for DIY Garden Markers: Once your growing season has ended, or the plant you were labeling has passed on, remove the garden marker from the soil and gently clean it. If you're going to replant the same thing, then carry on, but if not, store your markers in a dry place such as garage or shed. 

​Pull them out the following year, touching up any labeling as needed. If you're marking a perennial plant, such as rosemary, then check your label every year or so to see what kind of touching up it needs, and if you are using the label constantly, then I highly recommend the optional step above of using a top coat. 

Tim

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Coutney, do the painted labels eventually break down over the course of the season from Heat and UV exposure? Do you need to repaint them every year? Do you intentionally refrain from painting the entire utensil? Or would the paint on the below ground surface eventually wear away anyway? Did you prime the utensils first? Did you use chalk paint exclusively? I like the looks. I think my daughters would like them too. Seedpath

Courtney

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Hey Tim! Great question! It took about two years for mine to start losing their paint, but that was also with no sealant on them. This spring, I'm planning to redo them with sealant. Obviously, this will make the chalk marker permanent instead of being able to erase and rewrite. Thanks for stopping by!

Ultimate Gardener Gift Guide - The Kitchen Garten

Tuesday 24th of October 2017

[…] Herb Garden Markers– (Amazon– $20) These petite herb markers are perfect for an indoor herb garden. They give a dainty and decorative touch to any container. If you’re looking for larger markers with more impact, try my DIY Garden Markers. […]

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