I was in my favorite housewares store the other day and noted five more or less frivolous items for the garden that I could very easily live without, in light of current financial restrictions. But if, like me, you'd still like to dress up your yard a bit, you can get the same, or close to the same things for $2 or under at a dollar store. Here's what I found:

Solar light sticks -- The ones at the housewares store are metal and come with batteries. They cost $3.99. The solar light sticks at the dollar store are $2 each, made of black plastic and are a bit taller than the more expensive ones.

You may get a little brighter light from the more expensive ones, but they are more or less simply for decorative purposes along a path and, in that case, why pay two bucks more for each one? I bought five, which means I saved about $10 over buying the $3.99 ones. Wal-mart also has a light stick that looks exactly like the dollar store one, except they are a little bigger and come with a rechargeable battery. They cost $2.93 each and could be worth the extra buck if you simply must have light along your path rain or shine.

Metal wall art -- The housewares store had a large, beautiful piece of metal butterfly artwork . It cost $49.99. Or you could buy three to five of the 11 1/2" x 13" metal butterflies I recently found at my local dollar store for $2 each and create your own masterpiece. They come in different colors, but I opted for the copper-looking ones. Even if you buy five of these, you're still only paying $10, or $40 less than the expensive art. You can sometimes get smaller metal butterfly wall art for only a buck and you could group a few of these together in various ways until you get the desired effect.

Metal animal garden stakes -- Strictly for decorative purposes, but cute. Still, you needn't pay $9.99 for one at the housewares store when you can find something very similar at the dollar store for only $1.25. They come in various animal shapes, but mostly cats and dogs.

Paper lanterns -- Got my battery-powered ones for $1.25 each at the dollar store. They come in a package of two at the housewares store. The cost? $14.99. So, you decide -- $2.50 or $14.99? Hmmm.

Stone-look figures -- I love to add poly resin critters and other whimsy to the landscaping. Small bird figurines at a grocery/department store near me cost $5.99 and were a similar size to a 5" stone bird statue that I bought at the dollar store for $2. The dollar store also had stone cherubs, owls and painted mushrooms, just a sample of the many garden figures available.

Please check prices and availability in your area.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for creating home decor using only items from the dollar store.


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