Old and junky, metal, wood, whatever - vintage wheelbarrows have a place in my garden, along with all kinds of other garden tools as well.
They are sometimes planted with succulents or other plants, or as a display for terracotta pots or other vintage garden stuff, to show off a prized pumpkin, or just to put my collection of rusty metal in for use at a later date.
I've got a good start on my wheelbarrow collection - if you're not careful, they'll build up on their own, so make sure you have room to store them, full of plants or not. Luckily, I have several acres of garden, and I can always find another corner for this kind of garden art.
This one, being totally metal except for the tire, was used to cook garden soil to kill pathogens. I would build a bonfire, and fill the wheelbarrow with soil, moving the soil around with a rake to completely heat it up. After a while, the wheelbarrow would be dragged off to allow the soil to cool.
As a grower of succulents of all kinds, I'm always looking for new places to tuck in a few - the perfect spot for these hardy Jovibarba is up off the ground and away from dogs or rabbits.
I drooled over this selection at a yard sale last summer - what would you do with all these? I think I could find a place for at least one or two.
Totally rusted out in the pan, this wheelbarrow got a new lease on life with a wooden box, now planted and frothing over with Sedum cyaneum 'Rose Carpet' and surrounded by a sea of Pulmonaria, or lungwort.
Half hidden by the undergrowth of the shrubbery, this weathered specimen is due for an overhaul and replanting. I quite like how mysterious and poignant it is this way.
So next time you see an old wheelbarrow in sad shape, don't let that stop you. There are years left yet in something that is used up and wretched from its original use - give it a new lease on life and display it with pride.