Garden art turns trash into treasure

Turning trash into garden treasure is an art form of its own.

recycling-in-the-garden-blogMost of the gardeners I know recycle found objects to add interest and personality to their gardens while turning waste into a resource.

The weathered wooden chair with a missing seat becomes a way to prop up droopy plants, a leaky birdbath makes a fine feeder and an old leather work boot planted with hens and chicks really adds some kick to the rock garden.

Repurposing objects, whether whimsical or functional, stretches a gardener’s creativity and provides another frugal outlet for artistic expression. Just about anything can be recycled into a work of art for the garden.

Instead of throwing away a rusty iron headboard, it can be planted with an assortment of colorful annuals to create a real bed of flowers. A leaky metal bucket can find a new life when placed it on its side on a small berm and planted with blue and purple flowers making it look like water spilling out.

All it takes is a bit of creativity and a knack for looking at ordinary objects in a new way. A colorful cracked ceramic teapot may have outlived its usefulness in the kitchen, but it can have a rewarding second life as a patio planter for herbs.

There are no rules for turning trash into garden treasure, but there are a few guidelines. Items need to be sturdy enough to stand up to all kinds of weather; avoid glass or mirrors if there’s any chance for breakage.

If you’re going to use an item as a planter, make sure holes can be drilled in the bottom allowing for drainage and consider how serviceable it will be: When filled with potting soil and plants will it weigh too much to be easily moved? Is it large enough to keep plants from drying out? Will it add interest during all four seasons or only when it’s planted?

Safety should always come first, especially when putting old metal wash basins, watering cans and coffee tins to use. Broken pottery may make a lovely border for the garden, but it also presents a hazard to bare feet and paws.

If decorating fences with rusty antique tools or gardening implements, make sure they’re securely fastened to the fence. Take care when hanging or arranging rusty farm paraphernalia and always watch for sharp edges.

If using old painted wooden doors or window frames don’t plant in beds close to edibles because lead-based paints can contaminate the soil.

Have you turned trash into garden treasure? Please share your ideas by posting a comment here.


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Absolutely love that purple chair. I too turn trash into treasure in my garden. Having fun with rusty tools lately. An old shovel head with a broken handle and a mini bird house connected to each other with tiny screws is a cute new edition to my garden. It sits in a flowerbed near a bird feeder and the birds like to use it as a perch. Please consider looking at my blog to see a few pics of trash to treasure ideas in my garden. Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to have another gardening friend? I live in Weed California and garden in high winds. Makes for an interesting challenge in the garden! My name is Angie. Nice to meet you. I enjoy your blog.
Happy Gardening!

Hi Angie:

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving the link to your blog. What a lovely garden for place called Weed! I love love love the picture of your tree–what a wonderful living sculpture in your garden.

If you grow vegetables in windy conditions you might want to try the new plant protectors I wrote about on May 9th. These babies really stand up to the wind.

I’ll plan to drop by your garden every once in a while, too.


Jodi Torpey

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