Recycling Ideas for the Garden

Saving the planet and creating a healthy, well outfitted, decorative garden are not always mutually exclusive. So much waste passes through the average household on a daily basis, it can be a windfall for the frugal gardener. Using recycled materials and a little bit of creativity in your gardening space not only allows you to keep items from landfills, but provides you with a bevvy of unique materials and resources that a non-recycling gardener might not have, or might have to pay top dollar for.


One of the easiest areas to use recycled items is that of container gardening. Even if you have an in-ground garden, containers can add a decorative appeal to your garden and keep plants that spread and take over, such as members of the mint family, from taking over. Look at items you throw out on a daily basis. Coffee cans, soup cans, soda bottles and cans, milk jugs and butter, yogurt and cottage cheese tubs can all contain smaller plants. Use larger items, such as discarded sinks, bathtubs, tires, shoes and aquariums to add a decorative container or two to your garden. Don't forget containers to hold water. Set out clean, used detergent or kitty litter tubs to collect rainwater. Use ever popular milk jugs as a watering can. To take it a step further, collect run-off water from your shower or bath (termed "gray water") to use in your garden.


Composting is possibly one of the most beneficial ways to recycle in the garden. Using old food scraps and a large container with a sealed lid that sits in the sun, you can utilize household food scraps, pieces of cardboard and newspaper and garden waste to create a fertilizer so rich in nutrients that some gardeners refer to it as being more valuable than gold. Salad greens, egg shells, coffee grounds and old teabags can easily find a home in the compost bin, along with most other items that aren't meat or meat by-products. And don't let the thought of worms deter you--plenty of non-vermiculite, easy-to-manage compost systems can be utilized.


Create whimsical decorations by getting crafty with recycled items. A bit of fishing wire, two sticks, and a broken glass bottle can become a charming wind chime. Label your plants with soda cans that have been cut open and sectioned off, flattened and had a small arrow shape cut into the bottom. Write the names on the soda cans with a ballpoint pen that has run out of ink. Make a mosaic tile from bottle caps or glass shards to enjoy while spending time in your garden. Sculptures can be made by twisting and welding old silverware and metal items together, while temporary birdhouses can be made from sturdy shoe boxes or plastic containers. Scraps of yarn, old fabric salvaged from T-shirts or craft projects, and hair from your hairbrush can be set out for birds to collect during nesting season.

Keywords: garden decorations, gardening, gardening containers, composting, gray water

About this Author

Elizabeth Tumbarello is an eclectic writer from Ohio. Tumbarello has ghostwritten for a number of years, and has just started to publish her own work. She is an avid animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society and is currently pursuing her associate's degree in veterinary technology.