Fun with Adhesive: Aluminum Duct Tape Garden Markers

I do not have a green thumb.

All summer, I spend ridiculous amounts of time and money on plants for the little garden plot behind my apartment, only to see them whither away in the sun, or be ravaged by colossal city rabbits.

Not bunnies—city rabbits—big as cats with meaty legs the size of ham hocks. All winter they feast on hot garbage and mate with possums, spawning ferocious hybrid marsupial-rodents in the spring. Then the spawn go and consume my little garden as though it were Old Time Country Buffet with a sign on the door that read GIANT MARSUPIAL-RODENT SPAWN EAT FREE.

I hate those little bastards.

Despite my failures, my inner farmer will not be tamed. The battle continues every spring with a new crop of tomatoes, herbs, and the fantasy of a September BBQ of feasting on home grown summer bounty. Not to be outdone, my plants must be marked in style, with cute little markers. Now, do I really *need* to mark the plants? No. 
Does it make me feel accomplished, even when the leaves have been eaten to stubs? Totally.

Traditional Copper garden markers range widely. The fancy shop down the street sells beautiful hand pressed picks for $2.50 each, but I have seen alternatives in seed catalogs selling at 50 for $12.00. Not bad, but you can easily make several hundred on your own, for about $5.00 using plastic knives and aluminum duct tape.


Aluminum Tape can be found in the hardware store. It is traditionally used to seal the seams between ductwork and ventilation units. It is super sticky and waterproof. Runs around $5.00  for an 50 yard roll. You can also buy copper tape at the hardware store, closer to the electrical section, but it comes a little more expensive and I have not found the adhesive to be as sticky as I like it. You try and see for yourself.

Important: This needs to be aluminum duct tape, not just silver duct tape — these are two different things. The aluminum duct tape is made from thin strips of metal sheeting and has removable paper backing. Several people have emailed me to say their markers failed because they used the wrong kind of tape. Again, let me emphasize: aluminum duct tape.     

Plastic Knives from the bottom of your junk drawer. I know you have some. These pictures would sure be cuter if I had used black or white or clear plastic knives, but you know what, I kept it real and used the electric pink knives from my junk drawer. Know why? Because I’m authentic, I’m thrifty, and my inner farmer would have thrown a hissy fit if I had gone out and spent money on a stupid thing like a plant marker.

Start by slicing your tape to size and sandwich the dull end of the knife in between. The tape is *very* sticky, so don’t use your good scissors.

Use your pen to write the plant name backwards. This might take a little practice on scratch paper first.
Now flip it over and admire your work. The letters are a little wonky, but reverse embossing like this is darn impressive!
Now take it out to the garden and stick it in place. Stand back and admire your handy work. If your gardening talents are anything like mine, this will be the last time you feel a sense of accomplishment for the season 🙂
 Lola stands guard under the tree, on the lookout for giant marsupial rodent spawn. 



  1. says

    Love these!! I’m going to try them with popsicle sticks. Thanks for the tip about writing backwards.
    Good luck with the Giant Rodent Spawn! LOL. Around here we have “Evil Midnite Marauders” ( AKA white-tailed deer that think they’re dogs, but eat any and all vegetation. This year, we are trying hoops over the garden beds, covered with deer netting.

  2. says

    what a good idea!! they look adorable and so does your cat 🙂

  3. says

    Oh my, no doubt, you’re brilliant. I’m about to give up on any garden endeavors. We live downtown with a very urban feel, cars everywhere and STILL have deer roaming our towel sized yard…

  4. says

    From now on, dearie, I’ll be reading your lovely blog sans beverage. Too many times have I snorted my drink of choice through my nostrils as I innocently blundered up against a gem like today’s. “spawning ferocious hybrid marsupial-rodents,indeed.

  5. says

    So pretty! I don’t know if I can write backwards…but for something this cute I’m willing to try! Lola looks so wild in that pic – why does it look like she dug a hole to nestle into? The evil bunnies may have met their match.

    • says

      Get a thin piece of paper, a black marker (the permanent kind) and a surface you don’t care about staining (like a piece of corrugated cardboard). Write on the paper using the marker. When you flip the paper over, it will have bled through, or will show through enough so that you can “draw” the letters instead of writing them.

    • Tammy says

      If you can’t write backwards, print it on your computer then reverse it (horizontal flip) print it out and use it as a template! You can even experiment with fonts that way!

  6. says

    Thanks for the tutorial. If you get a chance to take a pic of the big rabbits…please share. I loved your description of them.

  7. says

    Your brilliance strikes again! I wish it wasn’t going to be a year before I have a garden, because I can’t wait to make these.

  8. says

    Great idea–I will try this.

    Also, I grew up in rural Iowa (read: lots of critters), and my parents always had glass jars filled with water placed around the garden, to scare off the critters, particularly rabbits. You might try it–can’t hurt, might help.

  9. says

    You are the bomb. I have some of this tape leftover from a vbs craft project gone very wrong! I have kept it for years, wondering what the heck am I going to do with this giant roll of tape now??? You should make one that says…annoying rodents eat here free and make sure you plant something very poisonous! Sorry, I have my own nature issues…

  10. says

    I’m going to have to agree with Wendy; you are “snort inducing” Peaches!

    And while I don’t have a garden, I may do this to put some inspirational words around our plants rather than the standard stones etc…

    Freaking sweet!

  11. Darcy777 says

    Love Lola… oh and those thingies the tutorial talks about… what where they? I’ve forgotten while basking in Lola’s beauty.

  12. Christena Davidson says

    I went to the hardware store to get the tape and while I was there I saw those wooden paint stir sticks and they said I could have them for free so I am going to use those instead of knives, still cheap but a little taller! : ) thanks for the awesome idea!

  13. says

    Absolutely brilliant idea! So effective and so lovely, and so simple! Love it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. says

    “GIANT MARSUPIAL-RODENTs”?? I dont believe you! I want a picture! :p

    P.S. I love this idea! I am totally making some up for my mum for her belated mothers day present!! 🙂 Thanks Aunt Peaches

    From Lisa in NZ 🙂

  15. says

    Pscht… be quiet… you reveal secret breeding strategies of the super-monster-marsupial-rodents!

    I love your signs! And I ams o astonished by the pure green emeralds of your cats eyes! Please give her some pure admiring from me 🙂

  16. says

    To help with keeping the rodents out hang cheesecloth bags filled with blood meal at about rabbit nose height around your gardens. What also helps if you take the hair from your cats brush after you groom her and snag it on some of the fencing or pegs around your garden it deters them as well. So does a mix of lemon rind and cayenne pepper sprinkled around the outside of the garden (deters other cats and dogs as well). Many of these you will have to refresh after a lot of rain.

  17. says

    LOVE this project! – I’m always looking for fun plant markers to make and recently shared three DIY ideas using pegs, old spoons and even mini-blind slats. I’m going to add this fantastic project to my next blog post on DIY Garden Ideas! Thanks so much for sharing.

  18. Kelly says

    Seriously? Found this post via Pinterest expecting to get a dry tutorial…not so much. I laughed my fanny off! Thank you for posting – you put a bright spot into this infernally rainy day!

  19. Tess says

    Well, my attempt to make these was an epic fail. I couldn’t get the embossing deep enough to be read on the opposite side. Oh well.

    • Linda W. says

      I also tried backward embossing and wasn’t happy with results. I did it the regular way and filled in with black permanent marker. Worked like a gem and very easy to read in my crowded garden! I needed taller than plastic kitchen knives so we bought plastic-covered metal tomato stakes and cut each 4′ stake into four – 10″ pieces. Not as economical as the plastic knives but perfect for me!

  20. Tricia from Bluffdale says

    OK – I’ve been reading a few of your posts because of your great ideas and creativity,,, but after reading this post, I laughed my head off about the rodent spawn and you officially became one of my favorite blogs. thanks for the laugh – and the great garden marker idea! I too am not a green thumb, although I desperately try again year after year to make my nasty clay soil produce the Garden of Eden.

  21. Eqcasa says

    Aluminum tape…who woulda thunk? Great idea!! I will peruse my hardware store and get busy during these cold winter months!

  22. PeachesFreund says

    Thanks Tricia! Yes, I have a black thumb too. If you pick up any tips, pass my way. I could use it!

  23. Koi6pond says

    going to give this a try.

  24. Leesarah says

    Inspirational! I laughed out loud, which after my day was very good! Thanks

  25. RLeeHendrickson says

    I love this and can’t wait to make my own.

  26. Sara MacFarland says

    This is such a great idea….I’ll be making some for my daughter for her garden this summer!

  27. Christenmf says

    What a great idea! Those are so pretty! Thank you for sharing. Try making a hot pepper spray for the hybrid spawn. I ordered some SUPER hot pepper powder from an online bulk herb supply company. It lasts forever because you don’t need a lot and it has kept out what were fearless rabbits, hungry woodchucks, deer, racoons, skunks, you name it. When I sprinkled the powder in the dirt around a couple cabbages it even killed slugs, don’t know how but it must have been painful! he, he. Be careful spraying it or sprinkling the powder.

  28. Jane J Thomas says

    Neat idea! My husband is like you and the country rabbits get his garden each year. This year he was able to harvest some after he went and bought some chicken wire and wrapped it around the plants. We have a problem with squirrels who can climb the little fences and they take a bite out of a tomato and then throw the rest on the ground. Next year he is going to try and use twist ties and make the top where they can’t get in, but it will be easy to open it and harvest his little crop. Hope this gives you an idea.

    Jane T
    Backwoods Louisiana

  29. Robin says

    My tomatoes are in large pots that we put hardware cloth around. Then my hubby used a piece if wire the diameter of the hardware cloth and covered it with screen. We use clothespins to attatch to the top and have no problems with anything getting to the tomatoes.

  30. Trixie56801 says

    I LOVE these! I am too cheap to buy garden markers, but didn’t want to just write on a rock or a wooden stick with a Sharpie. This is exactly what I had in mind. Can’t wait to get started making them!

  31. Linda Braden says

    You had me at giant marsupial rodent shits. Yeah, I’m a city dweller too (Chicago). And there is some scary shit lurking in my alley. But my pretend to be a farmer nemesis is a squirrel. Not squirrels plural. A singular squirrel. Who has staked his claim on our tiny back yard lot. He sits on a branch outside my screen porch and clucks at me. And he taunts the dog daily. And then he digs in my planters and buries and digs up and reburies peanut shells.

    And I swear if it wasn’t for that damn squirrely squirrel I would be hailed the number one planter box farmer in all of Chicago …

    … where’s that Moose when you need him …



    Oh, and you completely destroyed my afternoon. I had grand plans to work on said screen porch but then I found you through a pin on Pinterest (which I’m repinning) and then you were too freaking funny not to explore more …

  32. Joedygirl says

    My neighboors finally got smart and put a 4’+ garden fence around their garden to keep the critters out. They had deer and who knows what else stealing thier goods. We have a 6 foot privacy fence all the way around so nothing other than our dogs can get to ours so I put a little garden fence up to keep them out! I wish I would of known about the label Idea before I printed mine and put them in snack baggies and tied them to the bamboo sticks…This would have been much nicers!!! I will know for next year!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  33. Liz says

    Write on see through trace paper first, and then turn it upside down on the tape and trace it out! 🙂 Love this! Thank you for posting!

  34. says

    Many Thanks for a brilliant idea, going to wow the neighbours with mine now! ………… as an aside I have a lot of problems with little shits too but slugs are my main thorn so I got some duct tape, smashed a load of glass in tiny pieces onto it and lay the stuff round my veg patch – seems to deter them a treat!!
    thanks again and I pinned this because I loved it so much

  35. Maria says

    How much fun is this? I am making my own…thanks for the idea!
    Love your writing style!

  36. Anonymous says

    The ‘pink’ stem is so cute and easy to spot.

  37. Anonymous says

    Very good idea! About those rohdents.. is that for real? Rabbits mating with possums? That’s bad….thanks for your site..

  38. Anonymous says

    plant mint at the edges of the garden to keep rodents away. set 12″ pots into the ground if you want to prevent root spread. 🙂

  39. Anonymous says

    LOL! Giant marsupial rodent spawn! That made me laugh out loud! Great idea about how to make the plant markers. Thanks!
    ~ Kate

  40. says

    Love your idea!! You can also go on to your computer and make a list of garden plants and then reverse the image. Then you have your plant names perfectly written. Then place each name over the tape and trace the name onto the aluminum tape.Going to make some today!

  41. Roxie Antil says

    love the idea, Gonna make some today but I am cutting wire coat hangers for the stakes. Very sturdy and won’t break.

  42. Jennifer says

    Very cute & thrifty idea. I actually like the hot pink knives, it gives it a stained glass look.

  43. Linda Whitlock says

    Every year I replace my wooden identification stakes in my day lily garden because they have faded and/or broken. As I need about 200, buying the expensive metal ones has never been an option. Went out today and bought aluminum tape and some plastic covered metal tomato stakes that my husband is going to cut to size for me. Assuming this works as well as I expect, I should have all of my new stakes made for less than $60! Can’t wait to get started!


  1. […] was a roll of aluminum tape left over in my cupboard from these garden markers a couple of years ago. You look this stuff and assume it’s silver duct tape, but it’s […]

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