Thrifty Things Friday ~154 Finding Freebies for the Garden/Yard

Hi everyone!

Bringing back to life discarded garden and yard freebies. I’m talking about Dumpster Dives and Curbside freebies!

Welcome to TTF #154! Linda and I are happy you joined us!

TTF CoHost 1

Okay, let’s talk FREE. Being on an extremely tight budget means fun or pretty things are generally not going to happen around here unless I can get them very cheaply or absolutely free.

And I do love me some free stuff!

“Curbside Crawlers” & “Dumpster Diving”.

I have been doing the above pretty much my whole life. I grew up in a frugal and thrifty home. On trash days, my eyes automatically scan the curbs for free treasures. It is just habit. Until relatively recently, it was never “popular” to do these activities. Now you see all over the blog world and TV people jumping on the thrifty bandwagon and looking for thrifty junk treasures along side the road. It’s a hot topic now. But, it certainly wasn’t always.

People in the past would give you THE look that said, “What a loser”, “How disgusting” or “Oh that poor person having to do that”.

Here is a little story. It happened way before blogging, Ebay or even internet popularity.

I was working at a retail store (large box home improvement store) and I would notice these two men come in on a fairly regular basis. They always drove this beat up old truck and they dressed pretty scruffy. Old dirty baseball caps, beard stubble, old work boots and dirty torn jeans and shirts. They were always polite and kept to themselves. They would search out the store and it soon became evident to me (yes, I am a people watcher!) that they would scope out just the clearance items. I could totally relate to that because that is what I did and still do. However, they would find some small item that was extremely reduced (remember back in the day when stores wanted to get rid of their stuff and would clearance them WAY down?) and they would buy them all up.As a manager, I was happy about this because I needed the space and that crap merchandise gone. I got to the point where I would watch for them and take them right to my latest clearance stuff.

I would also often find them in our stores dumpsters and other local stores dumpsters gathering things. As long as they didn’t make a mess and scatter stuff, I really didn’t care if they took things. Once again, being the manager one of the budgets I had to concern my bottom dollar was trash pickup. So, if someone is taking half of the trash, yay for me!

Then one weekend I went to a large local outdoor flea market. Now I had been going to this flea market for years myself and have actually sold there in the past. As I pulled in, I saw their old beat up truck. I thought that made sense, they pick trash or find things super cheap so, it’s not a surprise to see them here.

I bet you know what I am going to say right? Yup, they were vendors at the flea market. They still wore their grubby clothes, dirty baseball caps and scruffy beards. They were selling some fixed up dumpster five items and al the clearance things they had bought for of course, a bit higher than what they paid for it. And I could see that my store certainly wasn’t the only one they hit for clearance items. I thought to myself, “Well, good for you! Any time you can take the initiative to help make some money, I’m all for that”. I know it is hard work and time consuming do this so, I actually smiled when I saw them.

A little more than a year later, I was working with a contractor on a kitchen design and I needed to go to the house for measurements. I pulled into this exclusive community and up to a gorgeous Million plus home. I was prepared for that because I had seen the budget for the kitchen and blueprints. What I wasn’t expecting was to see at the side of the garage that old beat up truck! And even more surprising meeting the owners of the home! You got it! One of the guys that was all scruffy, dirty clothes and baseball capped men answered the door. I barely recognized him. Had I not seen the truck and had that in my mind, I don’t think I would have known who he was.

We ended up talking all about his “other” persona and our common skills for “pickin’”. I learned some wonderful tips from this man and have used them since. And he is still one of my favorite people to think about when I go pickin’.

These two guys met in college when they shared an apartment. They didn’t have any money to spend on furnishings so, they started trash collecting. And the old truck was the guys first truck and they still use it. They discover that not only did they have a talent for dumpster diving/curbside crawling, but, they were one of the few guys at their college with a truck. So, they started selling to other collage students their picked treasures and were able to deliver them to their apartments. They made extra money this way.

They both went on to be successful in their chosen profession but, they said that once they caught the pickin’ bug, they couldn’t  stop. And they still do it together and have fun with it.

This man really was a wealth of information when it came to pickin’ and overall thriftiness. I learned a lot from him and am very thankful for it!

Okay, so finding a treasure in a dumpster or at a curbside can save you a lot of money. When you see an item, don’t just “see” that item for what it is or how it looks. Think “Potential”!

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Some of my long time readers are going to recognize this particular example of freebie. I am pulling this from the TTG archives to share with newer readers.

Pots/planters are not cheap. And I am always needing more. So, it is one of the things I watch for. Generally the best time to find old used thrown away garden/yard/lawn items is in the Fall. People don’t want to store these things or they bought the pot with flowers already planted in it and now the flowers are dead so they just toss the whole thing. Sometimes in the Spring (like right around now) you can find some of these things as well because people want fresh new items in their yard and so out these old things go~!

I snatched up this large pot and used my rare skill of washing it out (insert sarcasm here) and cleaned so it was ready for a makeover.

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I always have plenty of black spray paint on hand. Why I have several cans that are half empty is beyond me, but welcome to my unorganized world! This is cheapo….and I mean the cheapest spray paint you can find black spray paint. I did two coats.

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I knew I wanted to add some fun detail to the pot. I went through my stash of cheap embellishment type things and found this wall cling from the dollar store. the only problem was the color of the cling was a light translucent gray. I wasn’t going to show up very well. So, I snatched a cheapo can of white spray paint and thought “What the heck”. and spray painted the cling itself. and it worked like a charm!

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Yup, I just spray painted the whole kit and kaboodle. Then peeled off the clings and stuck them on the pot.

projects 7-10 006_thumb[1]The surprising thing is that I didn’t seal this at all. I figured in a couple of years it would wear off. Well, it has been 5 years and this pot pretty much looks the same way. I never take it in during the winter months or even tuck it under something. It has always stayed right out there in the harsh weather.

I had the paint and the cling so this was a Freebie project!

What are you waiting for? do a little curbside crawling on your neighborhood’s trash day! you will be surprised at what you find.

A forewarning: There are profession crawlers out there and they try to snatch up stuff before anyone else gets to it. So, start early!

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On with the thrifty show!!!


  1. You gotta love free! Then you gave it a makeover - awesome. I have some old plastic planters that were faded and I spray painted them, looked like new. Thanks for the party - Dawn @ We Call It Junkin

  2. I LOVE your story!!! For a year we lived in a tiny town where we walked continuously. Even to the grocery store. Because we could. The alleys were paved and I loved walking them to see the gardens in people's back yards. Over time, I also discovered goodies waiting for the trash man. Some big, some small. But, I had the best time making them mine once they came home. Right now...I'm living in the country in a new area and I haven't seen the treasures. Then again, this endless winter probably has something to do with that. My husband laughs because my eyes are always open to possibility. I wish I were a little bit more creative in that dept...but I'm hoping it will come with time. thing I have that when you have less you see more. ;)

    Hope your week is filled with extraordinary finds!!

  3. Very interesting story--but if those guys did so well at picking and selling, I am actually surprised they would spend so much on a home and kitchen remodel. I mean once you know how cheap you can find things, its hard to spend more.

  4. Yes, I also agree with Susan...a very interesting and I loved it and enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing cause I lived in a town like that a few years back, now the town has grown and I walk only to excersise, lol! I think kitchen remodeling are expensive and so much worth it, I mean, I KNOW, but love mine for ever! We remodeled it almost 4 years ago.
    Thank you so much for hosting.

  5. Love the story about the two pickers. Wonderful, indeed.

  6. Love your stories of how you got started junkin!! Thanks for handling the party while I'm so busy. I will visit some posts this week for sure!
    hugs, Linda

  7. What a great story! Thank you so much for hosting.

  8. Thanks Diann and Linda. Love thrifting. Great story.

  9. Loved reading your story of the two collage guys. Thanks for Thrifty Things Friday.

  10. Holy Cow! You're a genius -- never would have thought to spray the decal like that!! LOL I had to laugh because I have all my friends looking for fence boards at the curbs. I use them alot and I'm out of them now. I figure it's spring so people are going to be replacing those broken down fences soon and tossing the old boards at the curb....for ME!

  11. Excellent idea on painting the vinyl! It definitely pays to be thrifty...:) Love the story of the two thrifty cool! Thanks for hosting...I linked up this week!

    Blessings, Vicky

  12. What a great story - love it... I am going to have to look at those wall clings at the dollar store a little differently now... thank you for sharing.. Cathy

  13. What a great story Diann--you described everything so well, I could just picture it in my mind! Love what you did with the pot, and that was a stroke of genius painting the stick on letters. Excellent work :)

  14. Thanks for hosting - appreciate what you do.
    Have a great weekend.

  15. I always see the best stuff when im out in my tiny car and OH is off with the van somewhere . There have been a few incidents where ive loaded stuff in the back of the car thats been hanging out all over the place

  16. Thanks for Thrifty Things Friday. Have a great week.

  17. ! I love finding old pots and painting them, but never thought of adding a stencil..great idea! I never see anything curbside though...well, anything you'd want to take home. :)
    Thanks for hosting another great party.

  18. love the story thrifting is a great way to go green thanks for the hop have a great weekend

  19. Just love how you did that planter, very cute and original.
    Have a great weekend. :)

  20. Love the "pickers" story. I grew up much the same as you. We did not go to the movies on Sundays, we went to the flea market. And yes I too glance at the neighbors trash as I go by. If I had a truck and a helper my house would be full of curbside finds. Love your flower pot re-do. I have so many pots that need a fresh look and this would be a thrifty way to bring them up yo date. Thank you for hosting.... Candy


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your ideas. If you ask a question, I will answer it here in a comment back to you. Please check back! Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful day! Diann :)