Looking for budget-friendly ways to grow and decorate a garden? Learn how to thrift like a boss with these simple tips.

You may be surprised by what can be found at the thrift shop.

Thrift stores are great places to shop for clothes, furniture, and other household goods that are in good condition.

But sometimes, you’ll find something unexpected and unique, too.

And because items most found aren’t mass produced, you can find things that lend a vintage aesthetic to your home and garden.

Whenever I go thrifting, I always look for things I can use in the garden.

Plants need support, cottage gardens need vintage decor, the eye needs a place to rest in good garden design, and I love a pretty flea market flip to use as planters.

Sure you can head over to the local nursery and find some great items to use. But there’s something about thrifted finds that lends a lot more interest to gardens.

Wait until you see what I found!

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close up of creme caramel coreopsis

5 Simple Tips to Thrift Like a Boss for the Garden

Because the deals can be amazing, sometimes it is tough to hold back on purchasing all of the cool items you find.

But sometimes you have too.

Or you’d run out of cash! LOL

Although thrift store deals can be pretty amazing, you can walk out spending hundreds of dollars in one trip.

So be mindful when perusing thrift shops and flea markets, prioritize what you need, want, and most importantly, might never see again if you don’t grab it now!

Fresh cut flowers from the cut flower garden on a thift store find end table with vintage shutters
Cut flowers from my garden in a glass vase on a thrift store end table with vintage shutters.

Shop Around

There are many things to consider when shopping for secondhand home goods.

While shopping, do a quick buzz around the thrift store or flea market to get a sense of what they have, what you might want, and what you need to grab immediately.

Because some items will be gone sooner than you realize if you don’t grab it first!

vintage green shutters and windows I found at the flea market in Vermont.
Gorgeous vintage green shutters and windows found at Wilmington, Vermont’s antique flea market. Shutters and windows add lots of interest to wreaths and other flowers in the home.

Be Patient

Thrift stores are often filled with good deals, but it can take time to find them.

To help save time, try looking for items that fit certain criteria you want.

Is it made of galvanized metal? Plastic?

Does it look old and vintage?

Is it real wood or is made from composite?

Does it have a lot of texture and details?

Will it fit in your garden or home???

Do I even need this???


(Trust me, I’ve asked myself this question plenty of times. Sometimes I put the item back and regret it later, but most often, I didn’t really have the right spot for it).

galvanized metal buckets found at the antique flea market that will make great planters
Old galvanized metal buckets make great planters that add alot of character to garden borders and porches.

When You Know You Know

When you walk by that item and just get that feeling it would be PERFECT in your garden or home.

Grab it.

Don’t wait.

Don’t walk away.

Because if you leave it and come back, it might be gone.

When you know, you know. Don’t leave it behind.

And if you aren’t sure whether you know?

Grab it and walk around with it or ask the vendor to set it aside for you so you can buy yourself a bit more time before deciding.

vintage galvanized metal urn found while thrifting at the outdoor antique mall
Vintage metal urn I found as I was walking out of the vintage flea market in Wilmington, Vermont.

Thrift With a Budget in Mind

Because it’s easy to spend a lot of money at the thrift store, know how much money you want to spend BEFORE you go shopping.

It will be much easier to make decisions later about purchases knowing you only want to spend $50 than walking out spending $400!

Know When to Stop Shopping

If you find something you really love that’s more than you want to spend, buy it and stop shopping so you don’t wind up finding 10 other things you want that you can’t buy.

It’s easier to choose to stop shopping and didn’t buy more, than to feel that twinge of regret when you keep shopping, find more things you love, but can’t buy them because it blows the budget.

vintage wood trunks found at the thrift store and outdoor antique flea market
Old wood trunks make great planters or storage items for the garden. They also look amazing as unique coffe tablel!

What to Look For at the Thrift Store That Looks Amazing With Plants and Flowers

There are lots of thrifted garden treasures that look amazing with plants and flowers both inside and outside the home.

Here are a few ideas of items you should never pass up while thrifting for the garden.

  • Vintage crocks and urns
  • Old tin cans
  • Baskets
  • Shutters, doors, and old windows
  • Crates and trunks
  • Milk glass and jadeite pieces
  • Ladders
  • Vases
  • Dough bowls, soup tureens, and cake pedastals
  • Vintage tool box
  • Chicken feeders
  • Metal pails, bins, and buckets
  • Vintage watering cans, milk jugs, and bottles
  • Pretty vintage dishes and tea sets
vintage thrift store find shutters with milk glass vase and fresh cut flowers from the garden
Thrift store finds – vintage hob nail milk glass vase on wood end table with vintage shutters. Fresh flowers are from the garden.

More About Spring Gardening

Do you grow flowers, herbs or vegetables in containers? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

close up of creme caramel coreopsis
Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers

Want to See More Thrift Store Finds?

I’ve been sharing lots of cool items I found for our new home and garden.

Come thrift with me!

close up of front porch swing with vintage flower pillows, potted plants and an outdoor area rug on the front porch in my outdoor living spaces home tour
Front porch decor for summer with vintage baby carriage filled with scaevola flowers.

How to Arrange Flowers Like a Pro

Now that you found some cool flea market finds, how do you arrange them with fresh flowers?

It’s not hard to arrange your own bouquet or centerpiece and you can save a lot of money doing it yourself.

Click here to learn my best tips for arranging flowers.

And if you want to prolong the vase life of fresh bouquets, keep flower arrangements looking beautiful for longer with these tips.

small bouquet of fresh flowers in a mason jar on a thrift shop find end table with vintage shutters

Wait Until You See What My Friends Found Thrifting This Month!

My good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells is showing off her garden with some gorgeous thrift store finds she discovered in the Pacific Northwest.

If you are not familiar with Kim, she has a GORGEOUS cottage garden by the sea that you will adore!

Kim adds lots of unique flea market finds you’ll find sprinkled throughout her gardens.

beautiful sunset outdoor view with bicycle, flowers, lake, and forest

My good friend Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill has been traveling around visiting vintage bazaars, thrift stores, and flea markets up in New England.

This month she found some pretty cool stuff for the garden at the Todd Farm Flea Market.

Wait until you see what Jennifer found that is perfect for her New Hampshire garden!

flea market store

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close up of galvanized metal buckets found a the thrift store and antique flea market
snapdragons in garden
Bricks 'n Blooms at the NJ home and garden show booth

Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 172

Hi there! I hope you had a great week! Random Things Happening Behind the Scenes at Bricks ‘n Blooms What a week it was! It was all about the New Jersey Home and Garden Show this week. Not gonna lie, this was a lot to pull together but we pulled off an amazing booth and…
Read More Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 172
chinese evergreen and white amaryllis flower with a clock

Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 171

Hi there! I hope you had a great week! Random Things Happening Behind the Scenes at Bricks ‘n Blooms Where do I even start about the week? My Garden Damage We had some snow earlier in the week and when our plowing service came (who is also our landscaper) they drove 15 feet through my…
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Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me?

I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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  1. Yes, know when to stop shopping!! When you know you know…I loudly proclaim “I’m done” and head for the car!!!

  2. Knowing when to stop shopping is the tip I may need help with Stacy! One of these days we’re going to have to go thrifting together.

    1. We need to! I would love all that awesome garden decor you shared today! I have so many things still in storage because I’m not sure where they will all go but there is always room for more stuff! hahaha

  3. All super helpful ideas and tips!! Thrifting is my absolute favorite pastime and, for me, it’s always helpful to have a running list of what I’m looking for and what I’m willing to pay before I go. Thanks for sharing today!

  4. I love these tips, Stacy, and your list of “must-haves” Makes me excited for my next thrifting trip! I’m going to share a link to your tips in my week in rewind post on Saturday!

  5. Gardening and thrifting are 2 of my favorite activities and I have found some great items for my garden at thrift stores, estate sales and yard sales ect.One of my most recent was a great outdoor fountain new and still in the box. There was no price on it and when I asked the clerk she said how about $8.00. I quickly agreed, paid and flew home with my treasure. Set it up on my deck and it worked perfectly. The birds think it’s great and the sound of the water is so relaxing when sitting out there. It is about 30 inches tall and made of faux concrete so not to heavy.
    Never doubt the fun and value of thrifting.