Keeping The Earth Alive And Your Yard Undead: Upcycled Halloween Decorations

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Any true craftsman will say, “Measure twice, cut once.” But if you’re like me it’s more like, “Close your eyes and hope you don’t lose a thumb.” It’s Halloween, and if you’re an environmentally friendly hippy with time on your hands between protests or if you’re a broke guy with an underwhelming job, this post is for you. I love this holiday and I love decorating for it.

The first year I decorate my yard, I realized that not only did I not have the money for any of this stuff, but also the store-bought products looked terrible. I wasn’t about to pay $50 for a tombstone that I could make on my own with some plywood, and make it look better, for $10. Don’t let money be an issue. Just think outside the box for your material. Everything I made was made from junk. Nobody wanted it and nobody cared if I took it.


Keeping The Earth Alive And Your Yard Undead: Upcycled Halloween Decorations

So I’m going to show you my yard and what I made it with and how much (if anything) it cost. If it appears that I’m bragging it’s only because hell yeah, I’m bragging. My yard looks great and I built it myself. But I also want to encourage other folks to express their own joy of the holiday through affordable, sustainable methods.

Boarded Windows:

This year I decided to go for a zombie-ish, cemetery look. I wanted to board up the windows but I didn’t want to actually use boards because that would be stupid. Luckily, I was driving home one afternoon and saw a neighbor had left about six broken down U-Haul boxes on the curb. I cut the boxes into four sections and then cut those sections in half. Each box gave me eight “boards” which I then spray painted brown. Easy. I’ve stuck double-sided carpet tape on the back of the boards and they seem to hold pretty well. If I lose a board due to high autumn winds or rain, it’s okay, I’ve around twenty spares in my garage.



Ghosts and David Duke require a massive amount of white sheets. I can’t speak for ol’ Davy D but I can’t afford expensive, Egyptian cotton for my ghosts. Any sheet you see, from the large ghosts behind the tree to the “All Dead Here” sign, these sheets cost about $2 at any Goodwill. There’s no point in ruining perfectly good sheets with spray paint or cutting them to pieces when you can wreck someone else’s.



And what I’m most pleased with is the cemetery itself. The wood is almost all upcycled from storage crates. I knew I wouldn’t have the cash to buy lumber for four columns AND the planks AND rails for the fence. I got lucky one day while I was delivering mail at a business. A guy was hauling a cart full of plywood to a dumpster. He let me take all I wanted. Later that day, drunk with the lust of free scrap wood, I went back and dumpster dived for a couple more sheets and some trim. If you don’t mind leaping headfirst into a dumpster full of jagged wood and rusty staples, you’re helping the Earth stay green. You’re probably not saving much money after the cost of a tetanus shot, but you can feel morally superior to all your neighbors. After I got the material, it was just a matter of cutting the pieces to whatever size I needed, in this case, 2’x2’. Add a few cans of gray and black spray paint and eight hours later I had a fully busted up cemetery fence.


The great thing about Halloween is that everything is supposed to look shabby and run down. You barely have to measure anything. Some of my lines were crooked. Big deal. My measurements were off a little bit here and there. Who cares? Give yourself permission to not be very good. Don’t let a lack of talent keep you from scaring children and offending adults. If you love the holiday, show it. You can bet there’s a neighbor down the street is filling up their corner lot with all kinds of random inflatable friendly ghosts, and friendly pumpkins, and…ugh…friendly witches. Disgraceful. The kids on my street dare each other to walk through my yard at night. Last week a woman stopped by our house to drop off Scentsy samples for my wife and her daughter was too afraid to get out of their van. That’s the best compliment I could ever get, the compliment of fear.



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