Living in Myrtle Beach means that we find LOTS of seashells…small ones, large ones, long ones, round ones…did I mention LOTS of seashells? So, of course I am always looking for fun ways to use them around the house. We recently built two Raised Garden Beds for my herb garden, and I thought it would be cute to use seashells for my plant markers. This is a super simple project, and they look fabulous in the garden! Not to mention they match our nautical / coastal decor perfectly!
To start this project, I had to decide what type of wire to use. I chose copper because it is beautiful, fairly inexpensive (this package was less than $10). It won’t rust when it gets wet…and best of all, it is easy to bend! You could also use galvanized wire, or even coat hanger wire if you like…but they may be a little tougher to bend into shape. So…knowing that I would need about a dozen of these to start with, I chose to get the 25’ roll so I would have plenty. I cut the wire into 18” lengths using a standard pair of wire cutters. Then…on to the bending!
This was actually the toughest part of the project because it took me a few tries to figure out exactly what I wanted the finished markers to look like. After trying all sorts of shapes, I decided I liked a simple curl the best, but I wanted them to all be fairly similar and consistent (although not identical!) For me, the easiest way to make the bends was to use a short piece of 2×4 lumber, and wrap the wire around one edge of it to make the first curve. See the wires in the bottom of the picture above to see what I mean. You could literally fit a 2×4 right into the bent area. Then, using a regular pair of pliers, I simply grabbed the short end and twisted it into a small loop. You might have to try it a couple of times to get the look you want, but trust me, it will happen! And of course, you could always use a totally different curve for your plant markers and that would be just fine as well!
The next step was to gather a bunch of random seashells. Luckily, we have a lot of these around…so I had plenty to choose from. If you don’t live near a beach, try your local craft store or online retailer. Most of them carry an assortment of seashells. It was important to find several different sizes…because some plant names are much longer…..did I mention Echinacea and Lemongrass? I used a combination of regular seashells and oyster shells for my markers. First, I drilled small holes in them using a Dremel tool. Make sure to choose a bit that will make a hole large enough for your wire to fit through. You have to go fairly slowly so they do not crack, and it even helps to dribble a little water on the shell as you go to help cool it down. You could also use a regular drill with a small drill bit on it, but go very slowly to avoid shattering or breaking the shells.
Once you get all of the shells drilled, lay them out and decide which name is going to fit on each shell. Since I am not great at free-hand painting, I chose to write the herb names on the shells with a pencil first to make sure they would fit. That also helped me to get the spacing of the letters fairly consistent. The next step is to paint your letters with an exterior grade paint. I used some leftover exterior trim paint from another project and it worked perfectly. I used a toothpick instead of a paintbrush since the letters were so small and close together, but a small paintbrush work work just as well. You could also use a paint pen if the paint is weatherproof. And that’s it! Don’t they look cute so far?
Now all you do is slide the painted seashells onto the wires and stick them directly into the ground. Since I made mine 18” long, they go a long way into the ground which helps keep them very stable. Also, they will be tall enough to see when the plants mature to full size. Now…let’s go out to the garden!
I just love the way these look…the copper glinting in the sun, the seashells swaying in the breeze…just beautiful! The fact that I was able to upcycle free seashells was a bonus as well! Give this project a try, and let me know what you think! Happy gardening to you all! I will see you next time…right after I go back out and water that Stevia plant!
“Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.” – Brene Brown
Salty kisses and sandy hugs! xoxo – Michele