DIY Clay Garden Markers

Each year in early spring, I switch my attention from furniture to preparing our garden for the summer months.  It’s an activity that the kids get involved in and help in ways which they can.  This year one of the activities they undertook was the making of clay garden markers for the vegetables.  The labels we normally use are biodegradable and tend to not be readable within a few short weeks. Leaving us wondering what late bloomer is growing, or which type of tomato is this now? We specifically wanted the clay markers to be vibrant and colourful additions to the garden.  This DIY project was so simple, that in the end it was kid lead. I simply played a supervising role.

Clay Garden Markers

For this project I did not want to buy to much in order to create the garden markers. I wanted to use mainly items already available in our house.  The only item I did need to purchase was the metal BBQ Skewers.  I chose a rust free option and definitely recommend the style I used.  The round end gave additional surface for the clay to adhere around. While, the metal point made these skewers easy to insert into the garden.

I already had the necessary air dry clay in house; but you can find air dry clay easily in stores carrying hobby supplies. I used the modelling clay from DAS in White. 

My son rolled out the clay on wax paper  which helped to stop the clay from sticking to the table. Using a round cookie cutter he cut out simple circle shapes for our garden markers. You could use any shape you wished for our personal plant markers.

Adding the Skewers

garden tags on bbq metal skewers

Adding the skewers is simple enough but requires one key thing…the clay should be thicker than the depth of the skewer.  This is so that when you push the skewer into the clay shape, it does not come through the other side.   To ensure the skewer would sit fixed within the air dry clay, we covered the back with additional clay and using a little water on our fingers, we could smooth the clay out. 


The finished result was the round element of the skewer was fully imbedded into the clay and no longer visible.  

Afterwards, we gave the clay a few days to dry.  As the clay dries from the outside edges inwards, you will see the colour change slightly, helping to determine when the markers are fully dry and ready for the next step.

List your vegetables on your markers

Adding wording to your clay can be accomplished very simply.  I used a butter knife to push into the clay and create the wording I wanted.  If you had small letter stamps you could also use them to create a more uniformed wording on each of your vegetable markers.  This is your chance to be creative and add any decorative element you would like to .  We added a sun to our Beet garden marker and created an edge around our marker for the Peas. 

Adding Colour to the Garden

The air dry clay was a beautiful creamy white and I had considered leaving the garden makers in that lovely shade which would have popped against the green of the plants.  But after a discussion with my little helpers I was voted out 2 to 1. Therefore we opted to add bright pops of colour into the garden.  This was easily achievable through the use of acrylic paints which I had at home. You probably could use most types of paints for this step, as long as they are compatible with your finishing varnish.  Therefore water products with a water based varnish. 


Once we had painted the markers it was noticeable that the lettering was not that easy to read.   Using a paint marker we traced over the wording so that it would be more noticeable.  We could have also just used paint and a fine brush to create the same effect.  

The varnish is my go to varnish which I have used on other outdoor projects, including these Easter Eggs.  It’s a water based varnish which is easy to work with.  This part I did without the kid’s help, as they started to loose interest in painting once the colourful part was done.  I added 3 coats of outdoor varnish on both sides of the garden markers, to ensure they would be water tight.  

DIY Garden Markers, close up of the colourful labels and wording
garden markers in various colours with outdoor varnish

The vibrant result

The clay garden markers have been now used in my vegetable garden for the past two months and despite the cold and rainy March and April that we had, they look just as bright as the first day they went outside.  We are looking forward to making use of these garden markers for years to come.  Not only are they a vibrant addition to the garden, the kids have fond memories of creating these handy markers. 

red painted clay garden marker for peas. Easy DIY Marker
garden marker made from clay in orange with word carrot on it.
Author picture

Hey, I'm Sarah, the owner of Bold Wallflowers.

I'm on a self-taught journey through furniture refinishing and restoration, loving every experiment in my workshop.

Join me as I share my discoveries and gained knowledge with our vibrant community of fellow refinishers!

This post may contain amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, if you decide to make a purchase through the provided links, at no additional cost to you.


Limited Time Offer!
Subscribe and Receive The Beginners Guide to Painting Furniture
and The Fearless Furniture Refinisher's Guide to Shellac.

Get both guides and weekly tips sent straight to your inbox!
Front page to beginners guide to furniture refinishing
Front page to fearless refinishers guide to wood shellac