A Sign of Things to Bloom.

Thai Basil Chalkboard Herb Garden Sign

A DIY Chalkboard Sign, to be exact, for my herb-an garden that I started last month on our patio.  I finished the signs a few weeks ago and was finally able to snap a few shots of them keeping my blooms nicely labeled and organized.  It was a really quick and easy project: it required only 3 materials, costing just under $14 all-in.  I ended up making just 5 signs but I have enough materials for 10 more and for many other chalkboard paint-related projects for years to come.  So that’s a pretty good investment, especially considering I’ve seen signs like these retailing for $25-$35 on various websites.  I really like the fun touch it adds to the potted plants, and the look goes well with our half brick, half stucco back patio wall.  I’d love to say this look was intentional (we’ve gotten so many comments over the years), but it’s not.  It’s just nature doing its thing to an old layer of stucco that was never well-adhered to the brick wall it tried to cover.

Here is a tutorial for making the signs, along with a cost breakdown.  I assure you it’s like the easiest outdoor project ever, even though it looks like lengthy steps.  I just like to talk.

What I used:

Wood for signs and/or stands. (I chose to use basic shims from our local hardware store as the base for my signs, but you could really use any scrap wood you had on hand.  Depending on the shape of wood you might need to make a stand for the sign, but extra BBQ/shish kabob skewers could probably solve that for you). Shims: $2.79 for 15.

Chalkboard paint. (I find spray paint to be easier for any quick painting project so I went with Rustoleum Chalkboard Spray Paint, also found at our local hardware store). Chalkboard Spray Paint: $9.99

Chalk. (Good old fashioned Crayola, found at the Rite Aid down the block from me). Box of Chalk: $1.03

Total Cost of Materials: $13.81; most are pictured below:

Materials for Chalkboard Herb Garden Signs

What I did:

Step 1: Spray paint shims.  I laid them out on extra newspaper first, and did this outside so I didn’t breathe in the fumes.  I did not bother with primer for this paint job.  Instead I sprayed several coats of paint, keeping the nozzle about a foot away and using long, level strokes.  This made for thin and even layers that dried well.  I did 3 coats on one side, aiming for about 20-30 minutes in between.  We were in and out of the house that day so I did my best to do a quick coat whenever I could.  I let them dry overnight (both days were dry and sunny) and did the same to the back.  I let them dry out another 2 days so they were nice and cured.  Here they are drying after their last coat.  Ignore the popsicle sticks that are also in this pic, I was experimenting using another base surface but didn’t like how they turned out.

Chalkboard Paint on Shims

Here are the signs after drying for about 2 days:

Finished Painted Herb Garden Signs

Step 2: “Condition” the signs.  This was actually one of the instructions on the back of the spray paint can and I’m not exactly sure of the purpose, but basically once the surface had time to for a few days I rubbed chalk all over and then wiped it off.  Here are the signs before I wiped the chalk off:

Rub Chalk on Chalkboard Paint to Set

Step 3: Use the signs!  I labeled them for my herbs, and placed them in the pots accordingly.  I had to move them around a bit so they wouldn’t be in the way when I watered the plants, otherwise the chalk would wash off.  I’m also contemplating buying one of these chalkboard markers to make more permanent signs.  But for now these work well and look great!

Here are the signs inside before I placed them in their more permanent potted homes: 

Labeled Chalkboard Signs for Herb Garden

 And here are glimpses of the final product.  See how much my Peppermint has grown?!  It smells great, and I’ve found it to be a very refreshing addition to tea and ice water.

Peppermint Chalkboard Herb Garden Sign

And here is my Thai Basil.  It’s started to flower which makes it look pretty, and the shape of the pot allows for the chalkboard sign to be off to the side a bit and really stand out:

Thai Basil Chalkboard Herb Garden Sign

Ignore the glass jars in the background cluttering up this shot.   (We’ve established that along with having a black thumb, I’m also a terrible photographer).    After my big outdoor furniture refinishing project is complete I’ll fill them up with fun flowers to give the patio some color.  I’m still chipping away at that project though.  It takes good weather and a full weekend of being home during A’s naps to work on it, and we’ve been traveling a lot recently.  So hopefully soon.

In the meantime I’ll be enjoying my new chalkboard signs, which were a great quick fix to spruce up the herb garden.  And I’m now completely addicted to chalkboard spray paint.  I’ve been daydreaming about the next thing I can turn into a chalkboard.  I’m thinking a menu board in the kitchen would be fun, or maybe a big framed family calendar/planner.  You know, because we have so many social engagements to attend to these days.  But there I go again creating another project for myself.  I really have to stop doing that.

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4 thoughts on “A Sign of Things to Bloom.

  1. KIN – this is a GREAT post! I’ve always wanted chalkboard signs but didn’t feel like spending $35+ for them. Not being especially handy I never thought I’d have the skills to DIY but you have shown me otherwise. Cheese boards ahead!

  2. KIN- Just curious, how much maintenance is involved in your herb garden? I am interested in starting one down at the Shore, but as you know, I am only there on weekends. Have you thought about planting any veggies? I am interested in that too! Thanks!

    • Hmm. They aren’t a lot of maintenance, but they do require watering daily. Do you have a neighbor or housemate that is down there during the week?

      I don’t think we get enough constant sun out back for veggies, unfortunately. Also, I figured herbs were a better way to ease my black thumb into this whole urban gardening thing!

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