What to do with an Old Fish Tank Stand – From Trash to Treasure – When Neighbors Throw Garbage in Your Yard

When you own a bit of property, it seems that surrounding neighbors often look at it as an opportunity to dump trash into it.  When my husband caught one of the neighbors throwing all of the brush from his yard over the rock wall, the neighbor’s response was, “It’s just leaves and branches!”  They don’t want it in their yard, yet it’s okay to throw it into ours.  Another neighbor dumped part of her well into our yard after she had to have a new well dug and told me, “We thought it was state property.”  Well, I’m sure the state would appreciate the illegal dumping as well.  You would think that the idea of it being state property might be MORE of a reason NOT to dump.

Another neighbor had a four foot high, 100 foot long, pile of leaves set up near the rock wall with his blower pointed at it ready to create a leaf overload into our yard (which was obvious he had been doing for years looking at the stack of leaves), when he suddenly looked up with surprise at my husband standing there staring at him.  He immediately turned off the blower.  Another set up a circular fence onto our front yard the size of an above ground swimming pool, and proceeded to create a dumping ground for all of his yard debris to make a huge compost pile.

When you’re new in the location, the last thing in the world you want to do is make enemies with the neighbors.  At the same time, you wonder what the right way is to approach the offenders and ask them to please stop throwing the garbage into the yard.  It makes more work for us, items are thrown over that cost money to dispose of in an appropriate manner, and it’s downright un-neighborly.

We didn’t know what the appropriate way to approach the neighbors might be when we moved into our home, but we didn’t want them to continue to throw garbage and trash into our yard.  Dumping garbage and debris into another person’s yard is so wrong on so many levels, yet we don’t have a desire to offend the offenders.  All of these neighbors have good sized yards, and there’s no reason for them to dump on our yard to beautify their property.

What’s so striking is how neighbors get angry when you ask them to quit throwing their garbage into your yard.  There’s an assumption that, if you have trees and a decent amount of property that they have some sort of right to throw their trash over.  They see no harm in cutting down a tree and throwing a six foot pile over the property line.  They also throw plastic buckets, metal objects, glass, and things like fish tanks and fish tank stands.  When my husband placed a fish tank stand in front of me that was thrown into the yard,  instead of getting angry,  I decided to make the most of the situation.




I was asked to stage a house, and a request was made for a table to put against the wall to place a lamp.  I took one look at that fish tank stand and decided that I was going to create something without purchasing anything.  I had purchased Oops! paint at Home Depot without a plan awhile back.  I thought the paint color was pretty, so I picked it up.

I used a wire brush to brush off the rust.  Then, I created chalk paint using 1 cup of paint mixed with 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris.  Water was added to thin it out a bit, but that wasn’t done by measuring.  I just mixed in a small amount to make it easy to brush.

I’ve seen people use old beaters to mix the paint, but for a small price, you can purchase an attachment for your drill that looks like a beater of sorts.  It’s under $10, and it’s great for paint mixing.  Buy yourself a $2.00 plastic bucket to mix paints, and just clean it out when you’re done so you can reuse it again.

I painted the paint onto the metal and let it dry overnight.  The next day, I distressed the paint with sandpaper.  Then, I added some antiquing glaze over the top.  The glaze changed the color from a turquoise to almost a sage green.

After the glaze dried (within an hour), I used Minwax Paste Finishing Wax over the top.  I followed the directions on the can.

I looked around my property for some other items.  I needed wood to make shelves.  I found some old, weathered looking wood and managed to get enough out of it to create the shelve sizes I wanted.  I liked the beat up look of the wood.  I cut it to size.  In order to get the width I needed, I had to cut two pieces for each shelf.  I drilled holes into the shelves for dowels.  I added wood glue to the holes, hit the dowels into the holes, and secured the shelves together.  I just wanted everything to be secure for the staged home (and didn’t want to spend money on furniture either).


After the top shelf was dry, I installed it onto the top by laying it on the floor, turning the stand on it, and taking finishing nails, nailing them partially into the board, and turning them over the edges of the metal rim to keep the shelf in place.  There are better ways to secure a shelf that aren’t so remedial, but I was using what I had in my house.

The bottom shelf had to be made so it could slip into the space.  Also, I had to rip one of the boards and make it smaller.  I chose the one that looked like it had been partially chewed.  I used dowels for the lower shelf.

After the shelves were installed, I added some of the paste wax to the wood because it made it look and feel nice.  I used a toothbrush to remove extra wax out of crevices.  I’m not necessarily advising to do this, I just wanted to try it out, and I liked the effect.

The end result was a cute table that could go into just about any room in the house.  I’m not sure that I’ll keep that wood on there in the future.  I would like to have a piece of wood from a fallen tree to put onto the top, but, for now, this works as a piece that no one could buy, and one that I didn’t have to spend money on since I had everything here to make it.


A trip to the thrift store produced two candlesticks for 99 cents, two wood candlestick holders for $5.99, a lamp for $7.99, and a distressed painted green wood bowl for $3.99.  Not bad for using throwaways!  My husband has now become attached to this table and insists on keeping it.  Now, the real question is whether or not we should tell the neighbors to stop dumping the garbage into the yard.




Related posts

2 thoughts on “What to do with an Old Fish Tank Stand – From Trash to Treasure – When Neighbors Throw Garbage in Your Yard

  1. Marie

    I also have a wrought iron fish tank stand that Im thinking about making a vessel sink base but not sure about my wale ideas whats your thought on this

    1. Donna

      It’s feasible, but unless the underneath is covered, your plumbing will be in view. There are great options for that. You can purchase a more “decorative” option of plumbing parts that will be seen and make it part of the “art” of your piece. It could be very cool and a conversation piece!

Leave a Comment