• Junk garden project-Dutch door

    by  • February 17, 2012 • Design, Garden art, How to, Projects, Winter

    Saturday– Hmmm, Tractor Man gone for the day?  Having coffee and wondering WHAT to do today. I love having a day when nothing is planned.”

    Jeanne Sammons's barn door

    Jeanne Sammons's barn door

    Here is friend, Jeanne Sammons’s barn door which grabbed my attention. I first put it in my ‘Idea’ file, but then thought, ‘I have some of the things to make this!’  I might just go get the bottom half of my old Dutch door and the paint. Luckily it’s warm enough to paint still. I just HAVE to replicate this door.

    Jeanne says “Here’s an old barn wood door that we rescued … I painted it white, added a board frame & grapevine wreath, an old freezer basket, a branch of Curly Willow & took it to daughter’s house with Fall Mum…picture a few yrs old … barn wood is fun to recycle!”

    Dutch door before

    My old Dutch door before, found on trash day.

    Sunday– Pro-ject!! Here is my ‘beginning’, the old bottom section of a Dutch door, which I’d like to transform into a display like Jeanne Sammons made up. Saturday, I scraped and washed the spiders off. Wish I’d seen the spiders before I picked it up and carried it to the shed.

    You all should have seen me carrying it down from the goat shed,…on my head! It was heavy and I thought that would work. Actually my head still hurts! I don’t know how women do that on a regular basis!?!?



    See the spiders? I wish I had seen these before carrying this all the way from the shed on the hill. Probably have some down my neck!

    Dutch door after scraping and sanding

    Dutch door after scraping and sanding

    Monday– I brought down an old Dutch door to use as a background for a garden vignette and washed and scraped off the chippy paint. Some areas are bare wood. You can see that it’s possibly had a red undercoat. The question is should I paint this or leave it? Does this side look interesting enough to keep with a clear protective finish or should I start with a fresh paint job?

    The door hardware

    The door hardware causes me to choose the white side to work on first

    Here is the doorknob hardware on the white side. NOT having to take this off and move it to the other side OR finding a new handle more decorative are two good reasons to maybe use the white side.

    Dutch door before-the white side

    Dutch door before-the white side

    I believe I will be looking for clear varnish.  I will take friends’ suggestions to scrape off more loose white paint. After one coat of Marine varnish, I will head to the junk stores in town to look for a wreath and an old wire basket.

    Raw materials found at junk stores

    Raw materials found at junk stores. You can see that the varnish has turned the door quite yellow,...NOT what I wanted.

    Tuesday– Back from the stores with some possibilities… I found two items that can possibly be used in place of Jeanne’s wire basket….didn’t find quite what I wanted but will experiment with these.  Jeanne used a wire freezer basket, lined with moss.

    (See her original picture)  The basket would hold a potted plant like Jeanne’s mum and a branch.  I also found this wreath for $2 and will take off all the ribbon and stuff on it.  So which container, the pale yellow metal basket or the black metal thingy?

    Below is another look she put together using a sun plaque.  I have a chipped ‘old man inter plaque I could use.

    Jeanne Sammons's barn door with the sun plaque

    Jeanne Sammons's barn door with the sun plaque

    Test one

    Test one

    I’ve added the plaque to the center of the wreath. This light brown side has the light yellow metal container for contrast, I thought…. Drain holes could be drilled and plants added.  Hmmm,…not sure…

    Test two

    Test two

    I like the white side better, so will keep experimenting. The pinky-white side turned a bit too yellow, so I’ll be sanding some off. I was disappointed in the Marine varnish and will look for paint to transform the door, now better protected, back to the creamy white.

    Dutch door finds a place in the garden,

    Dutch door finds a place in the garden.

    I leaned the door against this tree…it looks good here, I think,  and so will try one more option going simpler.  This looks a bit busy to me,…not the look I saw in Jeanne’s original idea.

    Dutch door with a terracotta planter

    Dutch door with a terracotta planter, decorated wreath and branch

    Wednesday– After toning down the color which had turned too yellow, here are the suggestions from friends that I used:
    -Some Manzanita branches were added to the wreath to add color.
    -The Old Man Winter plaque was removed for being too terracotta and busy. I painted that so may see if it fits in later.
    -The metal basket was replaced with a larger planter filled with thyme. I’ll be looking for a longer wire basket for Spring.

    The finished door in the garden

    The finished door in the garden

    So, here’s the Dutch door in its place in my Winter California garden. I love it! I’ll be able to change the door around to the brown side when I want, as well.  I’m very happy with the result and the difference is it looks easy for Jeanne and it was hard for me! Ha!


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.