Gardening can be an expensive business! You might want to fill your garden with flowers, or grow your own vegetables, (or perhaps a little of both), but if you buy everything new, you can expect a large hole in your wallet! However, gardening doesn’t have to cost the earth – in fact, with a touch of imagination and by investing some time, you can have a garden that looks amazing for very little. If you have kids, you can harness their creativity and boundless energy, and get them involved in making a beautiful garden. Who knows – it could be the start of instilling a love for gardening that will last their whole life?
So here are seven areas where you can use recycled items in your garden.
1. Recycled pots
Unless you’re lucky enough to have acres of space in your garden, you’ll probably need to plant some things in pots. Planting in pots has several advantages. For example, you can place herbs just near your kitchen door to avoid trekking miles to cut them and you can also have sweet-scented flowers sited near your patio area. But don’t just rely on plastic pots, or even expensive shop-bought ones. Try a bank of colourful wellies (with holes punched in the bottom for drainage), old shoes or boots, or even an old watering can. Food tins are also great – even better if you can get hold of some catering-sized models! Plastic milk containers also work well, or try cutting the top off 2L plastic drinks bottles.
2. Large planters
Some plants and vegetables do better in a larger container or planter, so use your imagination to utilise household objects. Wooden orange boxes or vegetable crates are good, but remember to line them with plastic to keep the damp soil away from the wood, or it will rot.
Wicker baskets and hampers can also be used, or take a innovative approach with old toys e.g. a dumper truck or toy trailer. Or how about old car tyres? Space them singly or pile them into an impromptu rockery – liven them up with brightly coloured paint or leave them black for a more natural look.
3. Plant stands
Smaller pots and containers often look best when displayed all together on a plant stand. But commercial plant stands are expensive, so try a recycled one instead. A raft of brilliant pelargoniums look superb on an antique step-ladder. Train climbers, such as clematis or fragrant jasmine, over a disused child’s climbing frame, or use it as support for your runner beans. A chest of drawers, with the drawers pulled out at different intervals, makes a real talking point. But treat it with preservative first or it will rot away quickly.
4. Hanging planters
Traditional hanging baskets, planted with flowers or cherry tomatoes, always looks good. But create some interest by using alternative containers, such as a large colander, lengths of plastic gutter pipe strung at varying heights, or plastic bottles with one side removed. Again, food cans can be attached to trellis work to make a hanging display, or for a really artistic feel, use an old bird cage.
5. Recycled pathways
It’s not only plant containers that can be made from recycled materials. You can also fashion a gorgeous path using recycled items, such as slices of natural tree trunk, pebbles, short lengths of wood laid parquet-style, or reclaimed bricks. Try natural stones or bricks to make the path outline, or for a more colourful approach, up-end glass bottles and bury them so that only the base is showing.
6. Upcycled furniture
It’s amazing what fabulous furniture you can make using recycled items. Old wooden pallets or crates can be fixed together to make a chair, a sofa, or a sun lounger. A coat of paint and they’ll look like new, and they’ll be even better if you add some brightly coloured cushions as well. If you have the skill, try cutting old (clean) oil barrels and adding cushions, but be sure to smooth any sharp edges off before you use them!
7. Garden lighting
The garden isn’t only for the daytime – you’ll want to be enjoying your garden at night as well. So why not continue the recycling theme with your choice of lighting? Tea-lights are an old favourite – place them in jam jars or cut-off glass bottles, with sand or gravel to hold them steady. To increase the artistic impression, decorate them with glass paints. Solar lights are also a good choice. Wind them round planters and baskets, suspend them inside metal cans, or insert them into cut-off plastic bottles, for a different look.
Once you get started using recycled items in your garden, you’ll find your imagination takes flight and you’ll think of all kinds of innovative ideas. Kids will love to be involved – they’ll probably have ideas of their own as well. Why not make renovating the garden a family project? Then you can all enjoy your garden at its best, knowing it has been kind to the environment and to your pocket.
Photo courtesy of Scrappy Annie at Flickr Creative Commons