Mailboxes…the garden multi-taskers

What could be handier than always having clippers, garden gloves, plant ties, and other small necessities exactly where you need them—in the garden. Save time and steps by installing the box near the garden gate. (All images by Diane Morey Sitton.)

Years ago a gardening friend painted a mailbox green and then installed it by the path to her backdoor. To signal a note left inside or a “special delivery” of seeds or cuttings, friends put the flag up. Sometimes, my plant-loving pal used the box to hold her garden gloves.

Surprise a friend with a personalized mailbox. Customize the box with the friend’s name, favorite color, or favorite flower. Paint a butterfly or dragonfly. Add to the celebration by filling the box with garden gloves, seeds, or other useful items.

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Now, as then, when you put a mailbox in the hands of a gardener it can serve as a message exchange center, delivery station, or garden tool box. Painted, garden-themed mailboxes are expressions of creativity. They provide points of interest. When personalized with a friend’s name, they make a useful and appreciated gift.

Anyone for watermelon? When it comes to painting a garden mailbox, the more creative the better!

Turning a mailbox into a functional and decorative garden accessory is fun. Mailboxes are durable, rainproof, and inexpensive. They are readily available at big box stores, hardware stores, and do-it-yourself centers. Used mailboxes are easy to find at garage sales and flea markets.

Get kids involved in the garden by letting them paint a mailbox.

Whether you want to snip herbs for dinner, cut a bouquet, or leave a packet of seeds for a friend, garden mailboxes make the task easier.

To use a mailbox as a message holder, install it beside the driveway or put it next to a walkway leading to a door. Place a notepad and pencil inside.

But keep the door closed, if you leave it open you might end up sharing the mailbox with a nest-building wren.

Mailbox makeover tips
Getting started is easy. You can design, paint and install a garden mailbox in a weekend or less. Here’s how.

Materials and supplies
–Standard size metal mailbox
–Sandpaper (fine or medium grade) and a soft rag
–Stencils and soft-leaded pencil
–Spray paint (exterior, for metal)
–Craft paint
–Small craft brushes
–Mailbox post and tools for mounting the mailbox

Step 1. Start by using sandpaper to lightly roughen the mailbox’s smooth finish. If recycling a used mailbox, remove rust, loose paint, and dirt. Wipe the mailbox with a soft rag to remove dust and residue.
Step 2. Temporarily remove the flag or mask it with tape, plastic or foil. Use sweeping motions to apply two or three thin coats of spray paint. Allow the paint to dry between coats. Paint both sides of the door.
Step 3. Once the base paint has dried use craft brushes to add lettering, flowers or a colorful pattern. Either freehand the letters or trace them from a stencil. Let each color of paint dry before adding another.
Step 4. Mount the mailbox on a post, landscape timber or fence.

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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