Painted Sticks

Painted sticks will brighten up your garden even when the flowers aren't in bloom. Kids will have fun decorating and then planting them. Will they grow more when planted? Try them and see!

Age: 6 and up

Difficulty: Easy

Time Scale: 2 - 5


  • tree branch about 1/2 - 1 inch in diameter or driftwood
  • pruners
  • Craft paints in various bright colors (neon green, pink, purple, yellow, orange)
  • Paint brush
  • small plastic container
  • Black wide tip permanent marker
  • Spray sealer


I have a confession... I am a stick collector, or should I say tree branch hoarder? I can't help it. Big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones. I love them all. There are so many projects, just waiting to be made. It is hard to throw away a stick! Sometimes they get put in the wood chipper and are made into mulch. I don't feel quite so bad that way, because they are still being put to good use.

There are a pile of branches in my back yard, hiding behind the shed, just waiting for the day when I can turn them into something. Finally, I did it! One lowly stick has become something. It has been made into colorful garden art. Now, if I could only round up some kids to come help me, I could have a whole bunch of painted sticks done, in no time at all.

Painted Sticks for the Garden

Use pruners to cut branches. Younger kids will obviously need help from Mom, Dad or some other willing person, for this. If you don't have a tree that needs pruned, offer to prune the neighbors tree or go check behind my shed. I'm sure I can spare a few branches that are already cut and waiting to be used.

The tree branch that I used had the bark peeled off. Certain types of wood when green, will peel quite easily, just using your fingers. It isn't necessary to peel off the bark if you can't find wood that will cooperate with this procedure. The bark can be left on and the paint put over top, if you want. Trees with smooth bark work best for this. You can also use driftwood, that has already been worn smooth.


Look at the surprise I found when I peeled the bark off this branch. This was a very pretty, dark pink. Unfortunately, the color fades quickly when exposed. Too bad! It was such a nice color, it wouldn't have required much painting.


If you are doing large painted sticks, stand them upright, leaning up against something, to paint them. Use bright colors like yellow, pink, orange and neon green. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Do one color at a time, in various spots. Rinse the brush and then start with another color.

Doing this outside works best, especially if you are painting large pieces.
If you do your painting outside, you may have the added bonus of hummingbirds coming around to see what you are up to. They love the bright colors!

The design can be whatever you choose. Cover all the stick, or parts of it. Let the paint dry and then add polka dots and squiggles over top. This is so fun and easy, you get to do it however you want and it will still turn out great. 

Let the paint dry, then use a wide tipped permanent felt marker to outline between each color. Draw circles, dots and lines with the felt.

Spray with 2 coats of an outdoor spray sealer, to make the paint last longer.

When this is dry, it is time to plant! Poke your painted sticks into the ground. Arrange in a group or spread them here and there throughout the garden. This quirky art will add some fun to your yard and provide year round color.

Check out these painted branches. This is a very basic design but they look great.

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