Gardening is a hobby that already attracts a lot of people who like being efficient about doing things cheaply and for themselves. For many, recycling is a habit that goes hand in hand with these values, but all too often they don’t combine the passions. Recycling and the garden can come together to create wonderfully cheap ways and create a lot of fun DIY projects.
This article is going to overview some of the most commonly recycled items that can have uses in your garden.
- BBQ Carts
Barbecues are great, until they’re no longer usable. Then they instantly transform into heavy, difficult to get rid of, seemingly useless carts. Well, not any more. Cover the cast iron bottom with screening and a coco mat and you can instantly have an ideal spot for a herb garden (and one on wheels at that!). DIY-ing at its finest I’d say.
- Buckets, bathtubs, or even sinks
You can use any one of these fillable surfaces to create a beautiful in ground pond. This can really add to the aesthetic of your garden, and if you plant some pond weed and add some fish you’ll have it taking care of itself!
- Chicken wire
If you have a little bit of chicken wire and a few good solid posts, you have the material to make a decent leaf mould. This is a time consuming endeavour, but it pays off in significantly richer soil.
- Coconut shells and grapefruit skins
This is definitely something most people waste, but it doesn’t have to be. Grapefruit skins and coconut shells are both excellent slug collectors. This is because they appeal to slugs as a form of shelter, leading many to climb in for you to throw out in the morning.
- Containers of almost any kind
Containers can very often make great planters.
- Corn bags
Corn bags can easily be used to double as mulch bags. They’re used to carrying a large load, they breathe (allowing water to move through it, and they break down naturally.
- Egg cartons
You can re-use egg cartons in so many ways, seriously they’re one of my favourite crafting supplies. One of the best garden crafts? Use paper egg cartons as mini seedling pots. All you need to do is poke holes in the bottom to act as a drain, and voila, a little ready made planter.This is another item that naturally breaks down, so when it’s time to transplant them it is a particularly easy process (cut them apart and put in the ground).
- Fruit Peels
Fruit peels are great as composting tools and (in some cases) bug repellants (or attractors, depending on the type of fruit).
- Old Carpet
Old carpet can be used to prevent weeds! All you need to do is cut a ring the size of the plant you want to use it with, encircle the plant, and then cover your creation with mulch. Easiest weeding you’ve ever done, right?!
- Old Coolers
Old coolers can be great for creating make-it-yourself portable seasonal gardens. All you need to do is make a few drainage holes and fill it with soil. It won’t retain heat, it can be moved around, and it offers enough space that you can have your pick of most plants!
- Old Shoes
Did you know that old shoes can be used as planters? That’s right, simply poke holes in the soles (to release moisture) and plant at will! I personally was able to make a great use of these when my father passed, as we were left with a whole lot of shoes without a home. I like to think he would have been amused by the fact that they got reused, and they work really well!
- Onion Bags
Onion bags are great natural sorters. I use mine as a sort of a sieve, sifting through compost to use only the most broken down items.
Pallets can be used to make great composting bins or raised flower beds. Simply take four pallets and tip them onto their side, and voila, a cute and easy to make bin. Obviously the bin is only going to be as strong as what joins it, so I recommend adding some garden wire and twisting it to holding the pallets together.Compost often needs air, so the gaps in the pallets are perfect for creating an ideal composting environment. On top of that, the beautiful thing about this method is that when you’re ready to use the compost you can always disassemble the ‘bin’ and simply spread it throughout the garden.
- Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles, particularly the large water cooler plastic bottles, can be invaluable in terms of their ability to protect your plants. Simply cut off the bottom and enjoy your instant protective wind (and rodent) shield.The only thing with this is you need to be careful. Be sure to leave the top off of the bottle to avoid excess moisture build up, as this isn’t good for plants (it’s only really good for mould). Similarly, watch for when the plants have grown large enough to touch the sides of the bottle (a similarly dangerous situation for the plant and mould alike).
- Plastic Pipes
Plastic pipes can work as homemade tunnels for easy management of rows of garden, or even some watering systems.Try cutting the pipe into equal lengths of 1.5 metres, and then combining them in the ground to create 60 cm hoops. All you need then is some fleece or netting and you’ve got a nice weighted little structure.
- Toilet Paper Rolls
Toilet paper rolls are another item you probably frequently throw away that make an ideal planter. All you need to do is fill them with soil, plant a few seeds, and water when needed. Like egg cartons, toilet paper rolls naturally disintegrate, so this is another recycled item that makes transplanting a dream.
Windows can be a great way to cover garden frames, or to make homemade greenhouses to protect your plants in the winter.The best windows have no sharp edges and are double glazed, offering all of the benefits of protection with none of the risks of cutting yourself.
- Wire hangers
Wire hangers can be re-purposed to keep strawberry plants from separating themselves before you’re ready. Simply bend the hanger in a way that it will hold the stems off of the ground, and keep them off until after the initial harvest.Strawberry plant’s natural desire to propagate can be great, but it results in smaller berries. This wire hanger trick will yield a much better harvest.
People frequently sell off (or even give away) “scrap” lumber, untreated pieces of board that are perfect for forming frames or compost bins in your backyard. You can even use them to make raised flower beds, so always be on the eye out for a good plank. .A little bit of insider advice? Watch for scaffolding planks, as they are often gotten rid of very inexpensively at the first sign of wear (so there’s plenty of use left in them!).
- Yoghurt Pots
These can be used as slug traps. All you need to do is sink them into the ground and add a little bit of beer, and it will attract (and destroy) these irritating garden pests.