Do you ever look at other people’s trash pile and think you could repurpose half of it? Do you balk at the idea of paying good money for overpriced gardening items? Then you’ll love these recycled gardening ideas.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on mass-produced gardening supplies when it’s so much fun to reuse old materials.
There are really no rules to what you can repurpose and recycling old materials saves you money, stops things going into the landfill and you get a unique look for your yard.
Let’s look at a few recycled gardening ideas.
What Can be Recycled in Your Garden?
You can use anything you want, so get creative. Waste from home remodeling projects and those piles you see on the side of the road during spring clean-up are both goldmines for things you can re-use.
That said, there are some things to be aware of:
- Don’t use anything that previously contained harsh chemicals or poisons, especially if the material is to be repurposed for growing food.
- Avoid pressure-treated timber if it’s to be used in the production of food.
- Wood decomposes in the garden unless it’s painted or stained.
- Be aware that items covered in old paint may contain lead.
Recycled Gardening Ideas
The possibilities are endless when it comes to reusing items, but there are some of my favorite recycled gardening ideas.
1. Kitchen or Bathroom Sink
Kitchen sinks are a versatile tool in the garden. You can get them cheap at demolition yards or even free at junkyards.
Depending on the size, you can grow pretty much any small plant in a kitchen sink. I’ve grown vegetables, flowers, and microgreens.
Some sinks are already on pedestals while others may need supports. Or you could just set it on the soil.
The great thing is they come with drainage already – the plug hole.
Alternatively, you can use a sink and your garden hose to wash vegetables and garden tools while you’re working outside. Place a bucket under the sink so you can reuse the water in the garden.
P.S. – Don’t just stop at the sink. You can also use an old toilet as a planter for a whimsical addition to the garden.
2. Window Frames
Window frames are maybe one of the most popular of all the recycled garden ideas out there. You can find wood window frames at antique stores, in demolition waste sites, or at junkyards.
If the window frame still has glass in it, you can use it to make a basic garden cloche for protecting and warming seedlings or early greens.
Place the frame on cinder blocks positioned at either end and place the frame on top. Watering is as simple as lifting the window frame off.
If the frame is windowless, you can staple or nail chicken wire to it to provide a stable structure for climbing plants. You can also build a box at the base of the window frame to make a window box.
If you have multiple windows you can create a wall around your garden beds. It doesn’t have to be functional. The wall can be purely artistic to create depth and texture. Paint it for maximum effect.
3. CDs and DVDs
I use old CDs and DVDs to keep birds away from the fruit in my orchard. Hang them in trees, where the wind will cause them to move and twist. The movement scares the birds away.
The trick here is to use thin twine or string. I made the mistake of using thick twine, preventing the discs from moving well. That year, the birds got to my peaches.
The next time, I used fishing line, which allowed the CDs to move a lot. That time it worked.
Tie strings to multiple discs at various lengths. Secure these to the tree. Use plenty of discs to get as many reflections moving in all directions as possible.
4. Old Boots
This is purely decorative, but it’s a bit of fun. If you have old work boots, fill them with potting mix and plant flowers or succulents.
Be creative and plant lots of colorful flowers in different sized boots. Cut holes in the body of tall boots and plant flowers there to add a creative flair. It makes it look like flowers are bursting from the boot.
Bricks are my favorite material to use as garden edging. They never rot and are light enough to adjust or move if I need to.
There is no need to cement them in. I lay mine end to end, each one laying on the next. It makes for dramatic effect and if you’re a lover of straight lines like me, you will love the look.
6. Wooden Pallets
If there’s one recycling material making a splash, it’s wooden pallets. They can be used for so many recycled gardening ideas, including fencing, tables, raised garden beds, vertical planter, planter box, and temporary paths.
My favorite recycling project with a wooden pallet is to make a wall planter.
Staple landscape fabric on the back of the pallet. Double up the fabric to make it stronger and staple every inch or so.
Trim the fabric so it’s tidy around the edge and then turn the pallet over.
Paint the pallet with your chosen color. Pallet wood is extremely dry, so make sure you undercoat it first. You can leave the pallet unpainted, just be aware that it will decompose over time.
Now, tilt the pallet up so it’s vertical. Depending on the pallet you have, you may be able to just fill the spaces in between the boards with soil or containers and plant your chosen plants.
The plants sit between the fabric and the wood slats.
If your pallet is too narrow or the boards are too far apart, nail in small boards to create little beds.
This system works well for plants that like to trail, such as strawberries and tomatoes.
7. Plastic Bottle
I love using plastic bottles in the garden because there are so many of them and they often end up in landfills rather than recycled.
Plastic bottles are perfect to use as cloches. Use all different size bottles by cutting the bottom of the bottle off and placing over germinating seeds and frost tender seedlings. It’s like having a tiny little glasshouse.
You can also use plastic bottles as pest traps. Cut the neck off about one-third of the way down the bottle.
Remove the top, turn it around and insert it into the bottom. Pour a little beer in the trap and lay it down in your garden.
In the morning check the trap and tip the dead slugs and snails out. Refill and trap more.
You can also make a stink bug trap in a similar way.
Plastic bottles aren’t just good for getting rid of pests. You can use them as small planters, as well.
8. Car Tires
One of the simplest things to do with car tires in the garden is to make a potato tower. Place one tire on the ground and fill halfway with soil. Plant seed potatoes and fill them to the top.
When the potatoes push through the soil add another tire and more soil. Build the tower incrementally as the plant grows until you reach three tires high.
When it’s time to harvest the potatoes, all you have to do is take the tower apart.
You can use them as planters for large plants, as well. Stack a few of them and fill with planting soil to make a container that can handle trees or bushes.
9. Tin Cans
Recycled garden ideas for tin cans are almost endless, which is great, because there are so many of them ending up in the landfill.
- Drill holes in the bottom of the tin cans and use them as planting containers.
- Drill holes in the side and place in tea lights or battery-powered lights to decorate the garden.
- Use tin cans as scoops for things like potting mix and seed raising mix when you’re planting plants and seeds.
Don’t forget the tops of the cans that you usually cut out and discard. You can turn these into wind chimes to keep birds off your fruit trees.
Drill a hole in several of the discs and thread string into the disc. Add additional discs and tie in place until have a line of them with three or four inches in between. Be creative and tie colorful beads in between each disc.
10. Old Drawers
If you have an old dresser that you can’t use anymore, don’t throw out the drawers! Use them as planters in the garden, instead.
You can line them with garden fabric or just leave them as-is and fill with soil.
Plant any shallow-rooted plant inside.
Share Your Recycled Garden Ideas
The materials you use and the projects to use those materials are endless. Don’t be afraid to experiment and be creative. You have nothing to lose except material you generally throw away anyway.
If you have any ideas on how to recycle materials to reuse in the garden, we’d love to hear from you.