10 Materials That Can Be Repurposed for Landscaping
For some of us, those who grew up with an affinity for Lego blocks and similar stuff, our favorite part of gardening is the landscaping, the building of garden beds and trellises. We are almost growing our edible plants to decorate our creative flourishes in the art of landscaping.
What makes landscaping even more fun and creative is steering clear of big box stores, nurseries, and landscaping products, learning to use what’s around to make unique gardens. Different forms of “trash” can make the most wonderful settings for growing food and flowers.
Not only is there no need to buy something, but repurposed in a unique yard and garden often looks much more impressive and exciting. And, of course, taking advantage of garbage means there is no more energy or resources consumed to build your garden.
It’s a win-win-win! And, there are so many recycled resources at our disposal.
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Old bricks are fantastic to use in gardens. They can be used for constructing raised beds (see keyhole gardens), making permanent walking paths, putting in stepping stones, and creating thermal mass heat sinks, great for keeping the surrounding soil warmer in spring and fall. They can often be found for free or very inexpensively.
Secondhand food-grade barrels, both plastic and metal, are easy to find and have all sorts of uses. They are ideal for rainwater catchments so that we don’t have to use municipal or well water for irrigation. They can be cut in half to make plant pots or (lengthwise) to make small container gardens. They also make dandy compost bins.
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With those barrels in mind, containers of just about any size or variety can be good for the garden. There’s no need to buy plant pots or starter pots. They can be made out of tin cans, bottles, take-away cups, and whatever other containers are around. For that matter, many nurseries give away old plant pots as well.
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Truthfully, pallets are getting a little harder to come by, particularly for free. But, they can still be found, and though less trendy than a few years ago, pallets are awesome for garden crafts. They can become fencing, potting tables, vertical gardens, benches, raised beds, and more.
Urbanite, which is broken-up concrete for construction/demolition sites, can usually be sourced for free, and it can be used in many of the same ways as bricks, gravel, and rocks can be used. It can act as garden borders, garden paths, patios, fire pits, and wildlife habitats.
6. Corrugated Metal
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Old corrugated metal, aka roofing tin, is an amazing repurposed resource for the creative gardener. It can be used to create cool fences, windbreaks, and suntraps. It, of course, can become roofing again for little potting tables or seed starting areas. It can also be used to build high-raised beds, particularly useful for those who can no longer bend over very well.
Old doors and windows are commonplace at salvage yards and places like Habitat for Humanity. They can be pieced together to make cool greenhouses and used to make cold frames for extending growing seasons.
Cardboard is an amazing garden material, especially for those only just starting to construct their garden beds. It can be used as a weed barrier to cover areas of grass and start no-till gardens. Shredded cardboard also works in compost as a carbon element to balance nitrogen-rich food scraps.
Old newspaper is another common “garbage” item that quickly finds purpose in the garden. A few layers of newspaper under a layer of mulch can act as a short-term weed-blocker, as well as attract earthworms. Newspaper can be shredded at put into compost as a carbon element. It can also be rolled into compostable pots for starting seedlings.
Rocks are often something gardeners and farmers try to get rid of, particularly in places where tilling the soil is a thing. That just means other gardeners can make the most of them, likely—with a little effort to locate them—for free. Rocks, as noted with bricks and urbanite, are awesome for garden borders, pathways, stepping stones, fire pits, patios, and more.
They can also be piled in strategic places to work as wildlife habitats. Beneficial animals like frogs, toads, lizards, and snakes love a good rock pile.
In short, as we move more and more into gardens over lawns, it’s important not to create new, artificial demands for resources that are already at our disposal. We can repurpose what we’ve got to accomplish all sorts of stuff in the garden.
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