How to update exterior planters for cheap

August 29, 2013

I’ve focused SO much on our backyard this year (you can see the spring tour here) that I’ve completely ignored the front. Completely. I plopped some ferns in the planters on the porch back in April and haven’t even watered them much since (they just get rain water).

Since I fall is coming, like it or not (LIKE!), it was time to do some clean up and add some fall touches to the front. We have a teeny tiny porch but I think even small ones can make a big impact, especially this time of year.

First thing I needed to do – get rid of the weeds that had grown three feet tall and the trees that were sprouting in the beds:

pulling weeds

Told you I hadn’t touched it in months. :) Pretty. We get a lot of random trees growing in our beds and if I don’t stay on top of it they are a pain to get rid of. Annnd these are going to be a pain – I’ll need to watch them because some were so thick I just cut them down, I couldn’t get them out of the ground.

I cleaned up those, the weeds and the dead leaves and stalks on the lillies:

fall clean up

Yes that is a cherry icee. A girl needs sustenance.

I found the perfect set of planters for our tiny porch years ago, but they’ve not done well in the elements:

copper planters

Yeeah. The ferns aren’t doing so hot lately either. Moving on.

So here’s the thing – I love the copper tone of these, but they are not holding up well. At all:

prepping metal for spray paint

They are also leaving rust marks on the cement which is always super fun to clean up.

I love how tall and skinny they are and I only need them to work for a few more months. I’ll get/make something else next spring.

Soooo…spray paint to the rescue! I cleaned them off well:

prepping metal for spray paint

This is important! No need to sand metal, but you do need to clean it well. I used a brush and started knocking some of the metal flakes off, but that got to be a can of worms. It was just going and going so I just decided to paint right over them. If you are going to try to keep something for an extended time you’ll want to get all that off. Again, I’m just trying to make these presentable for the next few months.

I usually skip the primer but since these are outside I figured I should use it. I had black primer so I used that:

priming metal spray paint

Then I gave them a coat of my oil-rubbed bronze spray paint. 

I don’t use this stuff nearly as much as I used to, but it matches the kick plate (that I spray painted!), the hardware on the door and the coach lights I sprayed a few years ago: 

spray painting light fixtures

So I figured it would tie in well.

I picked out some bright yellow mums. They are just about to explode:

yellow mums fall

See how it all ties together?

spray painting outdoor planters

Much better than this:

Because it’s in the 90’s this week and 90 degree temps makes me want fall, I dug out my DIY pumpkin wreath from last year and hung it:

pumpkin wreath

It’s almost September. It’s allowed. I love how it looks on the red door!

I painted those coach lights three years ago and they still look fantastic!:

fall front door

I’m a little shocked at how well they’ve held up, honestly. I don’t even think I primed them? They’ve withstood the elements better than the original finish did.

A few weeks ago I read that the flag should hang to the left of the door – I had no idea. It was always getting caught on the gutter anyway so I moved it over:

fall front porch

Technically they’re supposed to be lit up at night too, so the coach light takes care of that. ;)

I’ll add some more fall touches out here as we get into the season, but I’m loving the warm welcome we have going right now:

      red door brick house

This one likes it too:

This just goes to show that even the outside items can be salvaged with a little cleaning and new paint. Those planters are completely washable and will hold up well even outside…at least till the end of the year. (If they weren’t rusting I have no doubt they’d last much longer.)

Have you started any fall decorating yet? Are you ready? Have you picked up any mums? Do YOU believe in the power of spray paint? 

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  1. Looks fantastic. I was so tempted the other day while at Home Depot by all the mums that are out. Still hot here though. Never knew that about the flag hanging to the left. Might have to move ours since we need a new bracket anyhow.

  2. It looks fabulous, Sarah. Oh, I need to go back to Home Depot and get a can of ORB spray paint. My outdoor light fixtures are so faded... that west sun just kills them. Oh so many projects to do here this fall!! LOL

  3. Love the color of your front door! Do you remember the brand of paint and name of the color? ~Kasey

  4. I live in Pendleton and drive past the True Value every day. I always think of you on my way to and from work. Annnnd....hopefully, I didn't just creep you out! :)

    PS. I can't wait to see how awesome those mums look in full bloom!

  5. Hi! I love how the pots came out, and the wreath! I also like the kickplate on the door. I would love to add one to my door ... how do you attach one of those?

  6. Sarah, you crack me up! I have been wanting to pick up some mums, but was still thinking it was too early. But since you're doing it, it must be ok. :-) I mean, why would they be selling mums if we weren't supposed to buy them, right? I picked up some planters at a yard sale this summer that are begging for a coat of spray paint, so I might just have to get going on that.

    BTW, if someone asks why I'm planting mums early, my standard response is going to be, "Sarah's doing it." :-)

    It looks lovely - I'm thinking yellow mums might be the way to go this year!

  7. Fall decorating is ON! However, this year I'm going natural and simple, so it's a bit more subtle. I found huge Mum's at Home Depot for $3.50 each. I figured it was a mistake, but no. I love my Mum's :)

  8. Hey, I have been doing some yard clean up myself. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who gets random trees in my yard! I've got those same planters, just smaller. I'm waiting to buy new plants, but I love your idea for refinishing them. And I love your mums. Great job!

  9. I Buh-LEAVE!! LOL

    I've got a list of stuff to do for our little porch, but all of it involves waiting until The Man is out of town at the end of September! He hates it when I spray paint, and seems to think the dingy hand-me-down plastic adirondack chairs are just fine as they are. He doesn't need to know they have an appointment with Dr. Krylon. And so does the door mat. And maybe a couple of planters. Oh, and our old coffee table - it's going to live out there too...

    See! I've got plans. I'm good at plans. It's the execution I'm not so good at ;)

    1. You just gave me an idea! Thank you! I have a door mat that faded with use and I was looking to replace it. I may just have to spray paint it! And lol love the comment about Dr. Krylon.

  10. Your entry looks wonderful...although it makes me sad to say good-bye to summer.

  11. My mums from last year made it through our mild summer so that's one thing I don't have to buy for fall this year. I put my fall yarn wreath out this week too. I'm am just SO ready for fall and figured it was so close to September that it was ok.

  12. Looks good! I can't wait for fall and I am itching to put my stuff out.

  13. Oh, I love fall, and you made me even more ready for it...even though it's 103 here today. Oh, fall, please come to mama!

  14. Love it Sarah! Spray paint is a wonderful thing. I was feeling a bit bad about a fern I neglected, leading to it's demise, but now I feel better. And ready for fall. Too bad fall won't come to Louisiana for 6 weeks or so. Oh well, on we go.

  15. Your garden looks great (esp. the back yard which you showed in the spring). are those tall copper finish pots from Target. I wanted them for so long - just waiting for the after season sale.

  16. I, too, would love to know the color of your door!! I've been contemplating a few reddish browns for our front door...( it's an awful orange!!! color! ) And, we are using the ORB metal for our metal stuffs! I can't wait for fall!! :)

  17. Wow! Nicely done. It's amazing what paint can do. It makes the old new again. Your home has gorgeous curb appeal now!

    Have a great day!

  18. I was looking at fall decor in the stores just today.
    And I actually thought these thoughts-that I think
    last year I took my cue from Sarah for when to
    decorate for fall. Wonder when she does it.
    It is hard to say goodbye to summer, but fall decor
    is fun.

  19. I am SO going to ORB the heck out of the brass kick plate on my storm door! :)

  20. you've inspired me to decorate outdoors for if it weren't 90 degrees! :0 great blog! thank you!

  21. Love my spray paint. Will change the color of anything. Good job on the arrival of fall.

  22. Paint is to decor like duct tape is to everything else- a cure-all. Your front entry looks wonderful. I suppose I should change out the neglected and dying geraniums now, huh?

  23. I love spray paint. I often buy items from my local Goodwill, Greenfield, IN and other ones throughout Indianapolis with the knowledge that spray paint will make it better. I found a pretty brass colored plant holder, at least I think that's what it was, and used the last bit of my white primer on it. And it looks awesome, although I may had a clear gloss since the primer is so flat. Plus my ex-husband bought one of those storage cube sets that's made of wire squares, it's not flimsy but not pretty at all. And now I'm left with all the pieces minus the plastic corners that hold them together. So I spray painted two of them in some bright green I had and hung them on the wall in our garage/play room with the thought of hanging things from it. Now it looks better and adds some color to a very low budget space.

  24. Love your porch! The wreath looks so pretty! We don't have mums out. Yet probably because we are still in the upper 90's & 100's. that's what I get for living in Texas. Ii love spray paint too! Great job!!

  25. It looks great!

    I'm curious about your shutters...did you make them? I've been planning to make some in that style for my house, but I've seen it done so many different ways. Mine won't have sloped tops, so that makes it easier. Do you have any tips?


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