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DIY Birdhouse Gourds

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

After accidentally growing gourds instead of cucumbers, Katie channels her inner Picasso and creates birdhouse gourds as garden gifts.

A newly painted birdhouse gourd

Many things grow in a garden that were never sown there. -- Thomas Fuller

a large gourd growing on a house

I'm blessed that there are wonderful people who want to help Katie's Krops grow by donating items such as seeds. One time a donation turned out to be a pleasant surprise: Donated seeds labeled as cucumber ended up being gourds.

These were not the small decorative gourds you find in the fall at your local pumpkin patch. No, these were giant 8-pound birdhouse gourds. What does one do with a birdhouse gourd? Turn them into craft project --something special for our feathered friends. Plus, they make a great gift idea.

We planted the seeds near a trellis. Much to our surprise, the "cucumbers" began to reach far beyond the trellis, growing up the side of our house. Soon they were clinging to the window screens of our sunroom. And then, they reached the roof!

Just about the time my dad was convinced the screens were ready to rip from the weight, we harvested the gourds. As I investigated the surprise growing up our house, I learned that these gourds were perfect for birdhouses. I love crafts, much like my mom does, so I decided this was a great project to take on.

spray painting a dried gourd

I began by washing the huge gourds in mild soap and water, and then I placed them on a well-ventilated shelf in our garage. (Or, you can just leave gourds in the garden on the vine to dry.) Either way, it's important to wait until they are fully mature to harvest.

The drying process can take months, but it's definitely worth the wait (when they are completely dry, the gourds sound like maracas). I used a diluted bleach and soap mixture to clean off any moldy spots and dirt that accumulated during that time. Then I removed rough areas with fine sandpaper and sprayed the gourds with Kilz white primer.

The next step was drilling holes. I drilled a large bird-entrance hole in the center of the gourd, about 1½ inches wide, and filed down the rough edges. I also drilled two 1/8-inch holes across from each other, about an inch from the top of the gourd, to hold wire to hang the birdhouse. Lastly, I drilled a ¼-inch hole at the bottom of the gourd for drainage.

The final touch is a dowel. I used a 1/8-inch dowel, about 2 to 3 inches long. You can get these at any Lowe's store. I drilled a 1/8-inch hole about an inch below the bird-entrance hole. Then I put wood glue on the dowel and inserted it into the hole.

pencil sketching on gourd

Now came the fun part -- finding my inner Picasso. Painting the birdhouses was a blast! Using a pencil, I drew my design on the gourd. I created a floral design, and then brought my penciled-in flowers to life with acrylic paints.

After the paint dried, I took small-gauge wire and looped it through the two top holes, twisted the ends of the wire together, and created a loop from which we could hang the birdhouse. To protect the design, I sprayed several coats of satin-finish polyurethane.

 

finished gourd

To do this project, you'll need:

  • Dried gourd
  • Kilz spray primer white with sealer and stain blocker
  • Wood glue
  • Spray polyurethane, satin finish
  • Wire
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • 1/8-inch dowel, 2-3 inches long
  • Drill
  • File
  • Fine sandpaper (1 sheet)
  • Soap, water, and bleach

You don't have to go out and buy all of these items. We borrowed from neighbors and used things in our own garage to keep the cost down.

Katie holding her finished gourd

The completed birdhouse turned out better than I could have ever imagined. Our accidental "cucumbers" turned into one of my favorite garden craft projects. So thank you to the seed company for that accidental mix up!